The Worst Class I have Ever Taught… So What?

Today I taught what I (now) feel might have been the worst class I have ever taught in nearly 20 years of ELT.

To add to it (or just because Murphy loves me…) I was being observed by my school’s pedagogical coordinator. I was observed because it is part of our routine, to be formally observed. But first and foremost I was being observed because I had asked to. It has been a while since I have last taught beginner adults and I wanted to make sure I was doing it right.

It was all fine in the beginning. I got the students to stand in a circle, talk about how they were feeling, practice new chunks of language…

And then…. Booom!!!! Disaster hits! The Power Point I had prepared as an activity to last 20 minutes – and be the lead for the rest of the class – didn’t work.  What??!?!

What do you do when something like this happens? You improvise, you tap from the pool of activities and knowledge you have built over the last (nearly) 20 years, right? Right!!!

What if your mind goes blank?

Because that’s what happened to me. Despite having taught the present simple countless times, and this being a revision, I panicked.  I couldn’t think of what to do. Frustration took over for a minute or two and I didn’t know what to do next. Within a few minutes I managed something, let go of the PowerPoint which had taken me an hour to do, and moved on. I drew a smiley face and a sad face on the board and wrote things I liked / didn’t like to do. And I moved on from there, got students talking, monitored… But still I feel like I fell short. And you know what?

I did. I feel I fell short and I know I could have done better. And that makes all the difference,

We all have bad days, don’t we? Maybe it was the frustration of having  thing go wrong, maybe it was the fact I was being observed that made me nervous… I just wasn’t myself. But it worked. And I feel the students learned. So why am I writing about this?

Because most teachers are terrified of being observed. They feel their job (or life) depends on every move they make, every activity they do – especially when being observed. But surprisingly enough, I didn’t.

I was upset (to say the least) the class hadn’t work the way as planned. I knew it wasn’t the kind of class I’m used to teaching. But it was all fine. No nervousness, no anxiety. I just want her (the coordinator) to observe me again in the same class.

Now… a few years ago, being observed in such a lesson would have devastated me. It would have made me crumble and question my abilities as a teacher. But tonight, it didn’t. And I left the room feeling ok, and analizing the lesson so as to think of what could I have done differently / better? I didn’t feel I was a bad teacher, or incapable. I was frustrated, yes, but that was not as important.

So what has changed? Is it me or the classroom? Is it my self-confidence as a teacher? Does having 20 years under my belt make a difference? Should it? Is experience in the classroom THAT important? Or is confidence more important? Or, even more complicated, are experience and self-confidence  so tightly related?

I’d really like to know what you think, and hear about your worst classes.

#ELTchat: the loss of eltchat.com – Plan B : A Repost

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I haven’t posted in a long while, partly due to lack of time – traveling, too much work and too many projects. I hope things will slow down a bit soon. And partly because I’ve been thinking a lot about teaching lately and have been having a bit of a difficult time organizing my thoughts enough to put it down on a post. But I hope to be blogging again soon. The reason for this post is simple: #ELTchat. I used to be a very active participant in #eltchat (lately I’ve been teaching at the times it takes place, so I have been having to catch up by reading the summaries and the wiki) and I know the value it has had on my professional development (and I know that is also true for countless other teachers) and the professional and personal relationships it has brought me. I was really upset by the news below, and I could never refuse a request by Marisa and Shaun to help spread the word, so everyone knows what is happening.

 

This is a repost of their post about the issue and what is going to happen now.

For the last – well, almost two years now, since September 15, 2010, #ELTchat has kept us on our toes and forged hundreds of professional and personal relationships amongst its followers who turn up on Twitter every Wednesday to talk about  topics they have suggested and voted on – a community of peers which was created by a small group of colleagues – which grew and grew some more and became something that counts as an important  part of our continuous professional development.

Like many great ideas, it didn’t hit just one person but several. And that is how #ELTchat was created.

The website to keep up the communication of its members, a base and repository of our ideas was one of the first things we all thought of creating – the wiki came later.

Andy Chaplin was keen to join the moderation team and help with podcasts and technical stuff; he was quick to buy eltchat.com and announced the good news to us after the fact. A few months later, right after TESOL France 2011,  he suddenly disappeared – some say for reasons of health. We never found out for sure. We never received a single word of response to our emails. eltchat.com was and still is registered in his name.

And yesterday we lost it


On August 8 the domain expired and we have no way of taking over unless it goes up for sale again; it was very sad that Andy Chaplin did not find it appropriate to renew.

The news is really upsetting.

The work we have put in on this website cannot be told in a few simple words – but it has been a labour of love and we have got so much out of it that we have never regretted one single moment

We are pretty upset at the behaviour of this individual – disappointment is one big understatement.

But we trust that our community of #ELTchatters, our PLN for short, will again gather round the new domain which we have purchased – eltchat.org

It will take us a few days to put the website back on its feet

And all will be as it was before – all the posts in place all your thoughts and comments, all the polls and great summaries which got us on the shortlist of the ELTon Awards nominations

We will be back with a vengeance

We are not just a website – we did not get on the ELTon awards shortlist as just another website!!!

We are a great community of teachers and we have a Plan B!

See you all in September!!!

Marisa Constantinides – Shaun Wilden

Cecilia Lemos

P.S. We would greatly appreciate it if any of you belonging to this great community of teachers,  teacher educators, bloggers, #ELTchat followers,  reposted this on your blog

If you decide to do this, please add your name to the post under ours.

Marisa Constantinides – Shaun Wilden

Cecilia Lemos

P.S. We would greatly appreciate it if any of you belonging to this great community of teachers,  teacher educators, bloggers, #ELTchat followers,  reposted this on your blog

If you decide to do this, please add your name to the post under ours.