“David, Please report to the Director’s office as soon as your class finishes. He needs to talk to you.” A program assistant handed me a note with those sentences on it. Gulp!
In the early 1980s, my wife and I, without much thought, accepted teaching positions on the Greek island of Lesbos. It was a Greek island, so what could possible go wrong?
It was a prep school that high school students attended in the late afternoons/evenings after high school to study English. Shortly after arriving, we met one of the teachers whom we were replacing. He told us that the school had a lot of discipline problems because many of the students didn’t want to be there. He said that the teacher-turnover was quite high as a result. In fact, a couple of teacher had just disappeared a few months earlier.
On the first day of class, as we walked down the hallway, we could see students literally chasing each other around the class rooms and jumping on the desks. My first class was with 16 tenth-grade students. Although most of the students paid little attention to me but instead continued to chat as I started the lesson, there were three female students sitting in the front row appearing eager to begin. Those three became the focus of my attention. Gradually, most of the others started to engage in the lesson, while a couple slept or doodled or looked out the window.
(This posting includes a handout which you are welcome to use with your students.)
This “tool” has helped me remain calm in many stressful teaching situations. Without this, I probably would have changed careers many years ago. I discovered this tool during my first month of teaching ESL when I was in Africa in the Peace Corps.
Here is what happened that first time in Africa. One day early in the term, I was conducting a lesson in a class of 35 students. Sitting in the front row were two popular students, Kato (the class president) and his best friend, Abdula. They were have a good time privately whispering and laughing while I was explaining the lesson. I could tell the other students had noticed them, so I knew I had to do something before the other students would start talking and I’d lose control of the class. Because Kato and Abdula were popular, I knew that I could alienate the other students if I didn’t handle this situation delicately. I could feel my stomach churning and blood pressure rising. Probably many teachers would have the same initial inclination that I had which would be to just tell them to stop talking. But what if I did that, and they continued talking? Then what could I do? I decided to not say anything right then and to think about it after class.
Excerpt from the article
(This posting includes handouts which you are welcome to use with your students.)
See FREE Reading Units: Reading for Insights (Introduction) for an introduction to these reading units.
Study Guide, Reflection & Vocabulary for Does Social Media Make People Sadder? (and excerpts)
Once a month, I plan to share a reading unit which you can print out and share with your students.
The Features of these units
- High-interest articles at the intermediate level that usually include references to some research study that students can relate to.
- The information is often counter-intuitive. Students gain some new insights from them.
- Study guides involve a variety of comprehension questions and scaffolding paraphrasing ones and vocabulary exercises.
- Each unit includes at least one “Reflection” exercise in which students write:
- Other uses of the articles:
as a prompt for discussions.
as a prompt for writings.
The Reasons Why these Units are Free.