When I became a replacement teacher in a relatively challenging secondary school it was my first experience teaching teens.
I was almost eaten alive, discipline was a nightmare.
I think I was saved by the fact that the kids realised I could actually speak and teach English, if only they’d be quiet enough to let me.
Also, I was the only English teacher that had that didn’t have to take time of for a nervous breakdown.
Young and naïve that I was I insisted that no one would get left behind, then followed ten weeks of games and exercises on the verb to be, the rest of the class patiently (at first) waiting for Johnny, who was clever enough to realise that things would get much harder if he ever gave in and got something right.
Talking about this in the staffroom, one colleague’s comment has stuck with me ever since;
“I don’t bother about what they’ve learnt or not, as long as they say they like English at the end of the year, then I know I’ve succeeded.”
At the time I was shocked and vowed I’d never be like that, then I went back to my classroom for a few more fun things to do with “BE”.
Only fools never change their minds. More and more I see that students can’t/won’t learn if they’re not comfortable and at ease in the classroom, as a student myself I can see that learning things I enjoy is much easier, and that relentlessly beating away at the same grammar point is not enjoyable, being challenged is.
Interestingly Scrivener has been talking recently about demanding high, and I find that the more you expect of your students ( to an extent), the more they will step up to the mark, and the more self confidence they develop in their English.
I’m not in touch with this colleague any more, but I wish I was, I’d tell her that my students love their classes now, that they are challenged and interested in their learning, and even if they don’t get it all now, they will soon, because they love English.