Thursday, March 13, 2014


The importance of relaxing with students

A sample dream flag (made today!)
A while ago I posted about a couple moments where I really felt being a teacher was worth all the fuss.

Today, I had another moment like that. Before I talk about the moment I want to talk a bit about what led me to this moment: dream flags.

I love the dream flags because they combine art, poetry, literature, global awareness, school pride,personal pride, and proof that English is a global language. They also help me get to know students better. I am always surprised by the theme of some of my students poems. Knowing what their dreams are really does let me see a part of their life I don't always get to see in class.
Plenty of supplies for three people, not 30!

However, dream flags also help me get to know my students another way. Because of limited space and supplies I don't have my classes create dream flags at one time.

In groups of no more than three students are assigned different meeting times according to their ability and preference. This is instead of a normally scheduled class (though some students will choose to meet during the normal class time).

At their assigned time the students come and meet with me on a picnic table in the back of the school. I have all the supplies laid out, and I quickly go over rules (e.g. cut the fabric 8.5 by 11), suggestions (tape the fabric to the table so the wind doesn't blow it away), and reminders (English only!). After that I sit down and start grading letting them create as they wish.

I do occasionally look up and comment on their creations, but overall, I leave them to their own means.Then the peaceful power of art works. Before long, I have students telling me about their families, friends, and struggles in school. They tell me what they like about my class and what they don't like. They confess their fears and worries about English.

Today was the first group of students From 10am-2:30 I sat with 15 students. I have been teaching them since January, but for a few of them, now is the first time I feel like I really know them

A sample dream flag (made today!)
If you have the chance to set aside conferences or at least mandatory office hour, I strongly encourage you to have them do something.

Have them play a game of cards, or checkers. Have them paint a picture. Have them mold something from clay. When the brain plays, it becomes less inhibited. Your students will be more willing to open up, and in turn you can become a better teacher.

As for me, I learned a lot today, but my favorite nugget of knowledge is that I am on the right track.

One of my students was talking about an assignment due later today, "Teacher," she stopped working to look me in the eyes, "I hate your assignments." I paused ready to accept criticism hoping it was constructive and not mean, "they make me read...and think...and write!" I can't stop smiling =D

Have you ever had a chance to get your students one on one? Did you find it as beneficial as I did?

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