Thursday, July 9, 2015

June 15 2015

I was struck by the comment “There will never be a definitive answer to the ‘how to teach’ question because it is not an illness; there is no cure.” As a non-experienced teacher this is frustrating. We want definitive answers. We want to be told how to do this. I want to know how to teach grammar. The fact is there are a million ways to do just that and most of the “art” of teaching comes in deciding which approach works for the particular learner of group of learners. Comparing the art of teaching to finding a cure for an illness was something I’ve never heard before, and made me think twice. Maybe there is no cure for this particular learner? Maybe with the right blend of instruction and motivation a magic light bulb will click onto high. More likely though there is no magic pill, and that learner success comes from a combination of quality, well-planned instruction and hard-work and practice on their part. Which brings me to the part of class where we talked about teacher and learner roles. I have thought a lot about what role I want to play in the classroom, and what role I am BEST at playing in the classroom vs. what role would be IDEAL for the group of learners I have. I am uncomfortable with authority figure that I am sure of, but I fear that is how learners see me as a native speaker. I have no desire to be a parent, but I am very nurturing and have trouble with not taking that role naturally. I like to help and sometimes go overboard, giving students probably more than they need. I’m probably more of a friend now, but I’m sure that will have to change as my career progresses. I have a hard time pushing people out of their comfort zone, so I make a lousy coach, even if that’s what that particular learner needs from me. I like and dislike the fact that my personality is the biggest factor in what role I play in the classroom. What if I dislike my personality? What if I know it needs work? Personal growth is difficult for everyone. I am a hard worker and a rule-follower, I enjoy when people tell me what to do, but I’m not confident yet in my own abilities to make the kinds of decisions I need to make to be a successful teacher. I suppose I have 2 or so years in the program to do just that. I also wrote down the statement “Graduate professors often train people to do what they do – reproducing themselves….they’re proxy is ‘you will do what I do’.” I take comfort in this statement. While I don’t wish to be a clone of anyone else, I have always looked to others as a model for what I would like to be. I know this can be dangerous, so I will be careful to form my own thoughts and make sure that I know why I am doing what I’m doing, but it’s comforting to have a model to follow when I’m not entirely sure that I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing. That’s just part of my personality for better or for worse. 
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