Tuesday, October 01, 2013


I've chosen the midterm exam to mark a paradigm shift for my beginner-level classes. Without getting deeply into it, let's just say that I've concluded, after several weeks of my own stubbornness, that the round-robin format just isn't working with my beginners; I'm fighting too much inertia and, I feel, wasting both my and the students' time. For this, I take full responsibility. After the midterm, I'll be shifting to a somewhat more traditional style of instruction, although I hope to add some quirky, innovative elements to what I'm doing.

This doesn't mean I'll be dialing down my standards or my expectations, however: my tests and quizzes will still proceed according to their planned formats; my calendar, given out on the first day of class, will still be applicable. By the end of the semester, my students will have learned a good bit of English.

Meanwhile, my intermediate-level students are cruising along with barely a hitch: they get it about the round robin. No need to change anything with them.

This comes as something of a relief. At some point, a person has to stop banging his head against the wall and realize that, despite all the head-banging, the wall's not coming down anytime soon. This will also mean the return of a louder, more active Kevin in the classroom, which was my default style for so many years, and which stood me in good stead with many of my past students. I've always enjoyed hogging the spotlight, and one major problem with the student-centered style of learning is that, with the teacher marginalized and reduced to a facilitator, his performer's ego has nowhere to go, nothing to do.

So that's where things stand. I swallowed my pride and made the announcement to my Tuesday kids today. I'll be doing the same for my Wednesday beginners tomorrow.

Meanwhile, the show must go on.


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