The ABC of ELT

How Teaching “is” shouldn’t interfere with how teaching “should” be

Unsplash photo back to school books and study

When I was at university I took a module in Envionrmental politics. During one class, we got into discussing animal rights and one of the points made (and rebuffed) was that seeing as human rights aren’t enforced, what’s the point trying to enforce animal rights. At that point my professor dropped the line “What “is” doesn’t change what “should” be”.

Of course this isn’t just true of rights, ethics and the environment, it’s true of teaching as well. I recently wrote about “bulk lesson planning” and why I think it’s worth trying out. At the same time I knew that it wouldn’t work in many situations, but just because it isn’t right for every situation, doesn’t make it completely invalid. 

I think lesson planning is a great example of this for us teachers. There are many things that would be great IF we could do them. But when we have a last minute lesson sprung upon us or a group of students who no matter what we try don’t seem to want to take any charge in directing their lessons, we can’t always tick every “should box”.

Always seek better

Having said all that, we should dismiss trying to do things better because we can’t do them perfectly.

An ideal teaching situation never exists but that doesn’t mean we should seek a better teaching situation. Just because we can’t always make a super fancy handout, doesn’t mean handouts are terrible or that we should never make them.

I think a classic example for me is trying to make more kinestetic activities. These often take more time to prepare and sometimes I just don’t have time. However, I have seen the difference they can make for certain students in terms of engagement in the lesson (espeically certain students with learning difficulties who can find too much information displayed in front of them as overwhelming. So I try to use them more.

Hello Mr Hypocrite

To be honest,  I’ve been a hypocrite in this regard. There are certain good practices I had in effect dropped due to “real world constraints”. On a one off occasion, they don’t seem to matter but they do make a difference in the long run. Now I’m seeking to not let these constraints stop me for aiming higher in my lesson.

About Chris Wilson

I'm an English Language teacher based in Krakow, Poland. I enjoy writing, using technology and playing the Ukulele.

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