Wednesday, 23 June 2010

Reflecting on problem solving

I've made a decision to re-energize my reflection routines in this blog. So here I go with the first reflection about the just finished school year.

At the beginning of the summer holiday it suddenly dawned on me that, for the last months of the school year, probably even longer, fun had seeped out of school. David Hamilton wrote about reflection in his blog, and said the following: 
In fact, it is often the emotion – whether it takes the form of doubt, puzzlement, or distress – that drives people to engage in reflection.
So true. I realize I have felt distressed for quite some time. Tired of classroom situations with big (over 30 for me is big), very heterogeneous groups that pose such a challenge, even with my years of experience.

More specifically, my problem are students, the vast majority boys, who are bright but thoroughly bored day after day, and who finally start giving trouble. They come to our school at 16 with a good basic knowledge and understanding of English, but with the unfortunate attitude of thinking that they know it all, or at least enough, and thus they absolutely don't need to do anything to learn more. I despair when I see them wasting all their promising potential, and underachieving in the end, because studying as we present it to them, simply isn't their cup of tea.

I know it seems to be a pattern in certain young boys' world that, above all, you need to be cool, and avoid being seen as a swot. With English, though, the learning never ends. It's a wonderful language with such a wide and colourful vocabulary, with a startling variety of nuances you can express with it, that the learning will never end. Yet, that kind of middle-aged female teacher's passion about the language won't stimulate these young rebels. Neither does it help that half of the class have been almost totally immune to understanding even the basic structure of a foreign language, and valuable time is spent trying to help them to at least the minimum passing level.

But all this is just old, repetitive complaints and moaning about the undesirable situation. It is not going to lead to anything. The question is: what am I going to do to make it better next year? Nobody else is going to solve this problem for me, nor is my school willing to adopt a concerted effort to change things. I need to wake up and smell the coffee, and keep reflecting to be able to move on and design a new action plan before the next school year begins.

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