Tuesday 11 October 2011

A lesson with two faces

Reading of the great post by Ceri Jones on her blog Close Up made me think about the situation in my professional life which has kept recurring again and again - one and the same lesson plan in two different classes of the same age never works in the same way and never produces the same result.

Ceri sees the grounds of the different outcomes in the seating of her students. Sadly, it is out of the question for me because my classroom has three stationary rows of desks that are impossible to rearrange. So I have to leave alone the idea of moving the desks.

Seating apart, what makes the same lesson work differently in ostensibly similar classes?

I have two classes this year who are new in the school (they have come from primary schools). The kids aged 13 in both classes are lively, talkative, rather noisy but when it comes to the lesson, a miracle happens and they behave like they have come from Mars and Mercury.

While one of the classes turn into careful listeners and active participants in the lesson activities, the other class stay indifferent, demonstrate boredom and dislike for everything they are asked to do. In addition, they are difficult to calm down and get quiet.

While the former class seem reluctant to go after the lesson ends, they stay with me to talk and share their news, the latter can't wait to run away and likely never come back.
Needless to say, I have been using the same syllabus, the same lesson plans and the same content in both classes.

What is making the difference? What am I doing wrong? How can I resolve the problem?
I don't know. Yet.


Anonymous said...

Hi Baiba!
There are so many different possible factors, it's really difficult to know. Maybe it has something to do with the class they've just come from, or the time of day. Maybe there's some tension in the class itself. And it's so difficult when a lesson really works well with the first class, so difficult to know how to change it to fit the next class. Sometimes we, as teachers, may even be trying too hard - or expecting too much. Good luck trying to figure out the puzzle!

David Warr said...

I feel for you, but also have no idea.

Ann said...

Hi Baiba,

Thnaks for adding this to Ceri's discussion. It seems to be a problem we all encounter and begs for more insight into what makes for good class dynamics. Do let us know if you make any progress...

Have just posted a link to this on the TeachingEnglish facebook page if you'd like to check there for comments.

Please feel free to post on the page whenever you have anything you'd like to share.



Prof. Juan Andrés Pereira de Souza said...

Hi Baiba, each class is a different world and as you have found out, lesson plans do not always work in the same way. A lot of different factors contribute to this: regarding context: time and days of class (it's not the same to teach on a Tuesday morning than on a Friday afternoon), classroom facilities (are the chairs comfortable, is it hot or cold, etc), previous subjects. Regarding students: their background knowledge, their learning styles, their reasons for learning, their previous experiences as language learners, their likes and dislikes.
Have you tried using games or videos just for a change? I'd also reccommend you make a survey about their favourite topics so as to catch their attention (famous people, sports, etc).
Hope this helps!

Baiba said...

Thanks to everybody for your comments and thoughts! I kind of know the answers, just wanted to let off steam :-)

Selga Goldmane said...

It's funny how this proves to be true again and again :) I have one class divided into two groups, so it means it's even the same class and they are all together for other subjects; however, the English class with each of them is always different.

Both groups are very good students, they love to learn English, it's just that they appreciate different things, like different learning ways, they even have different hobbies :)

Foos for thought :)