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Teach, learn, teach. (Mosaics series, #1)

09 Sep

What do most teachers unconsciously do?

I’m sure you do it too 😉

I do it too!:)

Whenever I read, listen or watch something, I almost always think how I can use “this material” in my lessons.

This habit sometimes puts a smile on my face and I think to myself: “Can’t I just read a book or watch a movie for mere pleasure and entertainment without necessarily connecting it to my job?”

This habit of keeping our eyes and minds open for teaching and learning opportunities undoubtedly makes us better teachers. And something is telling me that it’s our restless and creative nature that compels us to search for more, to do more and to give more to our students.

So here I go again picking up ideas from sources unrelated to teaching languages.

The other day, as I was reading a book on developing habit-forming products, I came across two interesting thoughts which had nothing to do with teaching but which, as I immediately thought, might be used in our teaching practice.

The first thought:

“The first place for the entrepreneur or designer to look for new opportunities is in the mirror. […] Instead of asking “what problem should I solve? ask “what problem do I wish someone else would solve for me?”

(Hooked by Nir Eyal)

The second thought:

“As you go about your day, ask yourself why you do or do not do certain things and how those tasks could be made easier or more rewarding.” (Hooked by Nir Eyal)

So here, entrepreneurs are advised to look at their own everyday experiences through the eyes of their customers to see what problems in their lives the entrepreneurs themselves want to be resolved.

What does this advice have to do with us, teachers? Everything!

We, too, need to look into the mirror for opportunities.

[Be a learner]

What would it be like if we were our own students? As we prepare another lesson to teach, why not to stop and think about it as if we were the students to attend and learn those lessons? Would we like the lessons? Would they be relavant and engaging to us? What value would we take from them?

And of course, as the time-tested advice has it: teachers should become learners from time to time; they should try to master a new skill or a new language (the latter option is of particular importance for language teachers, I think) to remind themselves what it is like to be a learner.

As we are learning something new, we start to reflect on our learning experience and see what problems we’d like to get resolved or made “easier or more rewarding” for us by our teachers or learning materials and how this could be done.

It’s refreshing, I think, to look at what we do in our classrooms and revise the things we do through the eyes and aspirations of our learners. Is what we do exactly what serves our students best? Do our classroom activities and tasks really meet the needs of our learners? Is that what they really need? Does it really help them to reach their learning goals? Is it truly effective and relevant? Is it fun, after all?:)

[Me learning French under a tree]

Now, as I’m learning French, I see clearly where I would need the help from a teacher; where I can get along on my own; how I want to be motivated; and what I need to keep me going.

I will write about these observations of mine in several posts later. But for now, I’m really curious about your experiences as a learning teacher:)

Namely,

  • What was the latest skill you were mastering?
  • What insights did you get as a teacher from your learning experience?
  • How did you apply those insights in your teaching practice?

Please, do share your experiences because we all will learn from them!

Next post in this series is due on September, 23. Don’t miss it:)

#learning #learningtolearn #learning2learn #learningstratogies #languagelearning #teaching #teachingmethodology #languageteaching #elt

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