Saturday, April 24, 2010

The tragedy of indoors on a beautiful day

It's yet another gorgeous Spring weekend in Brighton, with wispy white clouds gracing the blue skies and sunshine that tantalises your skin. After a long, cold winter, the season's change is finally clear and it feels like it's going to be a hot summer already. Not that that's much of a guarantee of one in this country though, I'm afraid!

I'm stuck indoors for much of the weekend trying to finish of as much work as I can on the final essay and lesson plan for my DELTA course, the postgrad diploma that's going to put Cambridge University on my CV. What a strange thought for someone who, 15-odd years ago, was determined that dropping out of university was the cool thing to do. It seems almost criminal to have to be inside on a day such as this, but sometimes one has to do what one has to do.

The course has been tough going in many ways, particularly the balance of simultaneously working and studying but also in having to drop so many of my other projects. However, it's been a very worthwhile experience so far. I've felt my teaching improve significantly as a result of it, plus it's brought a certain camaraderie with my fellow teachers who are taking the journey with me.

Funnily enough, I've actually made a bit of a switch amidst it all and am now spending half of my working day teaching IT as well, instead of just English. It feels like I'm gradually moving closer to the direction I want to be going in professionally, even if that end point or ultimate goal is not that clear yet.

I had a dream last night about my final observed lesson - the pending one which is going to be watched by an assessor from Cambridge. In the dream, I hadn't prepared the lesson at all and was trying to 'blag' my way through the class. This is something that many teachers have to do when they are either unprepared for the class or the needs of their learners change according to the language that emerges. It's even been formalised as a technique (visit the Dogme ELT discussion group), borrowing its name from the Danish Dogme 95 film collective's approach to bare bones filmmaking. However, it's not something to try when there's a Cambridge assessor in the room trying to see if you've taken on board what you've been studying for. An indication perhaps that I need to get on with it and finish off my preparations this weekend!

'Pink Blossom' photo by Dominic Alves, issued under CC-A 2.0 licence


Anonymous said...

Regarding your 'hot summer' remark: over the last few years april and may have been really nice but don't get your hopes up as by the time we get to proper summer it has been a wash-out. This year I am sure it will be the same, british weather is a basterd and will always let you down.

Globalism said...

Yeah, I know, a bad British summer's as reliable as the likelihood of a white Christmas in Moscow! Still, I'll take the optimism that comes from a long stretch of good weather here in Brighton - brings a smile to the face!

Darren said...

Interesting you should equate dogme with blagging it.... not everyone would like that assessment!

Globalism said...

Agreed Darren, and I'd counter that it takes a certain amount of skill and experience to 'teach off the top of your head' (so to speak). But there are equally those that do equate it with blagging!

I guess I was trying to get across that sometimes one is woefully under-prepared for a class and yet the class goes far better than expected, even very well sometimes.

Upon my discovery of Dogme ELT, the idea of teaching without a lesson plan and responding to the language that emerges in the classroom struck a chord with me in that it sounded rather familiar to the kind of lesson planning described above. Might be a case of not having looked too closely into the background on it though!