Adapting to Needs

Teaching a new skill area and proficiency level has been wonderful. I’ve loved learning along with my students, but it has been challenging to present the information clearly and succinctly when I am still becoming familiar with the textbook format, the course objectives, and grammar rules I have never explicitly taught before. However, this experience has reminded me how important it is to teach students and not lessons.

Because I structured my calendar and course based on materials I received from other teachers, I started off relying heavily on the experience of others in teaching this course. However, it became apparent very quickly that the pace set in other semesters was not going to suit my learners. I’ll admit that I struggled with this at first because it meant relying on my own intuition and ability to find resources. But once I got over my concerns about how to make the adjustments and just did it anyway, I felt an immediate difference in the classroom.

For example, when I planned out the week last Friday, I had an idea of the pace that needed to be maintained in order to get to where I felt we needed to be by the end of the week. But after Monday’s class, I realized that what I had planned to cover in two days would need four. And as I looked at my lesson plan, it hit me that there was no reason for me to push my students to do something that they were not ready for.

It has meant that I needed to scope out some ideas on the internet and talk with other teachers about how to help these students have a solid foundation before moving forward, but that extra time spent on planning yielded great results. Yesterday in class the students were much more motivated as we talked about controlling ideas and topic sentences. They got it. They were excited to show me their sentences. Understanding a concept is empowering.

Interestingly enough, my planning time has been more enjoyable as well. It is liberating to remember that my teaching schedule is driven by student needs. It may take us a little bit longer to meet all of the course objectives, but the second half of this week made it clear that it will be worth it.