My mantras with trainees include ‘We need to make our lessons student-centred…they’re the most important people in the room…let’s give them a choice of what to focus on!’ Of course, for integrity, I also do these things myself when planning my training sessions. This week, on Day 1 of a two-week in service course called Language and Methodology Refresher, I proudly showed the group of ten trainees a menu of possible sessions. They diligently followed my instructions to discuss with their partner and write which would be most useful for them. The expression ‘if you don’t want to know the answer, don’t ask the question’ came to mind when I saw the outcome. No single session attracted more than five votes, and most had been chosen by only two or three.
As a professional wanting to provide course participants with a model of what to do in the classroom, I ploughed on, asking the two or three who had chosen these to write their names next to where I’d written the sessions on the board. The result was 1. what you see in the photo and 2. me ending the session in despair. My plan had seriously backfired and my breezy assurance to them that I would run parallel sessions ‘buzzing from one side of the room to another like a happy bee’ had me on the computer for most of the evening trying to work out how to combine sessions and then moaning that I’d have to plan them scrupulously so that only one group needed my attention at any one time. I might have been tempted to pull the plug on the parallel idea, but didn’t want to take from them something I’d promised. So here I am, summoning the energy to buzz around the room – wish me luck!