Hi everybody! I have been thinking quite a lot about which challenges I face when teaching german to larger groups. I also talked to some of my colleagues and it seems like we are all facing more or less the same issues.
At the moment I teach a class of 16 students on B1.1 level. They are all dear students, some more and some less eager to improve:)
Now, my main goal as a teacher is to make the classes as varied as possible using different classroom formats – frontal, individual, group and pair work and changing the tasks around every 20 minutes.
Now this is harder than you might think. Even though I bring different kinds of exercises, there has to be a common thread throughout the whole lesson. If I jump from topic to topic, students will get confused and as a consequence frustrated. In addition there always has to be a plain purpose of why they are learning this or that, and it is my responsibility to expose it to the students. I always remind myself of how kids are learning while they grow up. It is amazing to watch them do this, and there is one thing that I notice: it’s a very rewarding kind of learning process, because they can see the immediate result and purpose in front of them. They get a kick out of the learning experience so to speak. This is the ideal learning scenario.
That’s what I want for my students to happen. But guess what. Not every topic is equally interesting to each student. Some topics in fact are not interesting to any of the student but because of the teachers handbook, I have to push it through. If that is the case, I try to find alternative topics that cover the same grammar that is supposed to be on the schedule. It does not always work, but at least I can go to bed at night with my best conscious that I have tried.
Another great challenge language teachers are facing is the different speed in which students finish their exercises. Some of you are sooooo fast while others need more than double the time to master an exercise. The latter also tend to need more of my attention. Now often times the speedy ones go on to check their phones or start staring at the ceiling in plain boredom. This is not a great feeling for any teacher or the fellow students. I don’t want to forbid my students the use of their smart phones as they often use them as dictionaries. In these kind of situations though I wish that I could split myself up so that I could deliver to everybody´s personal needs. But it is impossible.
But you know what is the best thing that can happen to me or any teacher really?!?! When you are able to engage the whole class, students really being able to learn from one another, asking questions curiously and having a lot of aha moments. It happens and when it does I love it. I feel that I could make a real difference that day for the whole group, not just for some individuals.
Having said that, keep learning everybody, even if you’re going through rough patches now and then. It’s worth the while – teachers and students likewise:)