Teaching plugged-in

It’s been three years since I last entered a classroom to teach big groups as I used to. Of course, I miss it a lot.

To deal with that gap in my career after the birth of my daughter and after moving to France I became a mom-teacher. My little daughter had no option. I was decided to start some home-schooling days with her. And I did it! She loved it and learned a lot. But she is four now and going to full-day school in France which means that my sole student will no longer have time for my classes. OMG!

No panic, though! The Internet came to stay and become part of our lives. Didn’t it? I had no longer my favorite student but I still had many things in mind. Time to a new project which I called ‘teaching plugged-in’.

Teaching plugged-in meant to me teaching online (or blending online and face-to-face ) counting basically with all up-to-date tools and educational technologies I could grasp. Apps, Sites, Dictionaries, Youtube channels, LMS, social media and press. I had always liked the idea of teaching unplugged by Scott Thornbury and Luke Meddings . Dogme ELT approach would be a challenging but productive way to guide my classes. This could be the base of my one-on-one classes. However, I was not prepared for the art of improvising professionally. I still felt the need of having something well-prepared. So I came up with ‘teaching plugged-in’ instead of teaching unplugged, even though Dogme was still part of the approaches I love to use.

What I do is what all traditional good teachers do: I study and prepare lessons before I meet my students. I study the possible themes that might come into a conversation during a lesson, I prepare material related to them (with videos, audios, books, journals, songs, article…), I try to have at least one prepared stuff for writing, reading, listening and speaking opportunities and build up my archive. The lessons prepared and applied end up inspiring the next to come. Thus, after a lesson, I always have new lessons ideas material to create and gather. There is still place to improvisation, but that’s not the basis.

As an example, once I selected the theme ‘working spaces and facilities’ to a B1 student and after the first 30 minutes, the student talked about his experience being a master of ceremony in a wedding. I guided the talk and we ended up with a list of wedding vocabulary, some revision on past perfect and simple past and a listening activity on my best friend’s wedding. It wasn’t planned but it worked well because I had my archive on wedding and on the grammar the student wanted to clarify at that moment to narrate his experience. Learning took place in the most natural possible way. It was an online student-centered class, by the way.

In this kind of classes, the teacher knows how he is going to start the lesson because he had a complete lesson prepared; however, he never knows if the lesson will follow as he previously planned or if he will intertwine his plans with his ready to use material. Any good opportunity is a good reason to change plans and create a more personalized and meaningful moment of learning. So the first plan is just a bite to unveil another.

Finally, there is no good reason to stop teaching and learning.


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