Every single “lesson” we teach is an opportunity for us to learn something about the educational process, if we so choose. All we need to do is to put aside some time to reflect about what may have happened or could have happened or should have happened, but didn’t.
Last Friday I was in our Tijuca 1 branch to lead a session on Teaching Young Learners
to 27 Rio-based teachers. (Please keep in mind that, as I’m not currently in the classroom, my “lessons” are “training sessions”.) Considering the fact that I have not taught young learners for at least 15 years, I thought it was very brave of me to volunteer to do such a session. In order to make it work for me, I had to build a story behind the session itself. I decided to build a castle to myself and the teachers who came to visit me that morning. I made the teachers wait outside the auditorium/castle and we all came in together. After all, castle doors are heavy to open. And when I met them, I had a dragon puppet in my left-hand.
I have never had so much fun in a session as I did last Friday and I need to thank all teachers who were present for having been such “sports” and for playing along with me from very beginning.
I followed the session plan carefully, yet I was able to improvise and imprint my own style to the session. I had loads of fun. I made a fool of myself at times (a couple of times only!) and I didn’t care. Based on some of the final remarks coming from participants, I think I managed to achieve my aim, which could be roughly described as raising teachers’ awareness to the crucial need of involving students – true of all levels, but particularly so with YLES. (From this perspective, for instance, teaching a song may imply using a good 20-30 minutes of your lesson, as we soon realised!)
What could have happened differently?
I would have liked to have a little more time to discuss the rationale behind what I was doing, but I suppose this is just the good old boring adult
within me talking. Also, in the way actors are trained to do, I would have liked to enjoy the silence between words a little more. Deep down, I was a little nervous and when I’m nervous, I talk more than I would like to.
Overall, this session forced me to consider the learning event from the perspective of the learner
and I’m grateful I was able to do the demonstrations in a way that resonates with children and with my inner child
. Also, I had loads of fun doing it, which in general is a good indicator that we are going in the right direction. The castle doors closed after a brief 1 hour and a half while another door has opened within me: the latter might be more difficult to close.
GUILHERME B. PACHECO
Guilherme works as a Senior Academic Coordinator and is based in Botafogo.