Thursday, March 26, 2015

an email from a student

I've been asking my students to give me periodic feedback about the class during mandatory consultation sessions. I told them they had to do three consults with me: once during the Week 1-5 period, once during the Week 6-10 period, and once during the Week 10-15 period. At least one consult would have to be face-to-face; the others could be via text or email.

So here's part of an email I just received tonight:

At first, I was difficult this class because students should talk in English. So, I was nervous in class. But This class has different format with other class like Round-robin format, Team play style ,, Thus, I could participate in class more and more. And now I enjoy this class.*

Cut the girl some slack: she's a Level 1 student, so this wasn't a bad effort when put in perspective. I've once again got the students doing round-robin work (per what I did in Daegu, not what I did last semester at Dongguk's Seoul campus—last semester was primarily team teaching, with the round-robin format being used only twice the whole semester), and they all seem to be enjoying it. Time passes faster; the classes are noisy, and the kids are speaking nothing but English (barring a few exceptions) for 90 minutes straight. I'm still convinced this is an awesome method, and I'd be proud to let any colleague walk around my class, watching how on-task and focused my kids are.

I'm hoping that the mandatory consultations will alleviate some of the end-of-semester shock and bitterness when grades come out: students get upset, I think, because they're surprised at their own grades, and they're surprised at their own grades because they don't fucking bother to check on their grades throughout the semester. It's a mess of their own making, really, but we teachers pay the price in our evaluation scores. "Tanj," as Larry Niven's Known Space characters are given to saying: There Ain't No Justice.

This girl who wrote in isn't the only one to express pleasure at using the round-robin approach. All the students in all my classes were smiling and laughing and clapping: their energy was self-sustaining, and it all happened with little to no intervention from me. All I did was provide the format for the interaction.

I've got one more round-robin day planned for this semester, then two team-teaching days on the calendar (keep in mind that these are three-hour classes that meet only once per week, so I see the kids only sixteen times). I sort of wish I'd planned for more round-robin days, but the calendar is already set, like it or not.

*A cleaned-up version of the student's email might read as follows:

At first, this class was difficult for me because students had to talk in English, which made me nervous. But we also used different [learning] formats from [those in] other classes, with things like the round-robin method, team teaching, and so on. I found I could participate more and more, and now I enjoy the course.


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