Revisit an idea and reinvent the wheel

When I first thought about this goal I couldn't think of anything huge, interesting or innovative to write about. So I discarded the idea to reflect on this topic and went on with my usual daily routine. But then something made me come back to the idea. Ironically, the fact that I've eventually come back to the idea of writing a post about revisiting an idea means that I've actually revisited an idea.

This wordplay brings me to another point: teaching itself is all about revising ideas. Don't we revisit ideas every day? Don't we try to reinvent the wheel all along the line? I think we do. We revisit our own ideas but we also get inspired by fellow teachers and our students. It happens on a daily basis that a student calls out: "Wow, I loved this game. Please, teacher, can we play it again next time?" At that moment, based on the student's wish, I decide to revisit an idea. Even if I feel my students were bored and felt discouraged during an activity, I don't give up. I'm not afraid to revisit the idea, although next time I get rid of what was redundant, replace what went wrong and improve what was mediocre.

The funniest thing about teaching is that revisiting a wonderful idea will not always guarantee an excellent outcome. Of course, it's highly probable that a great activity will work as well as it did last time, or even better. However, it can well be a total disaster. One never knows in teaching. And this is what I love about my job - the prospect of insecure results, the challenge, the need to create, revisit, change, improve ... Nothing ever happens exactly the same way it happened last time, not even with the same classes.

Enough of theory, I'd like to share an activity which I think worked really well with one of my classes of 13-year-olds. Chinese Whispers is nothing new under the sun - I didn't invent it and I've done it many times in many variations. I love this game because it can be easily adjusted for students to practise various language areas. I especially like it when it's linked to grammar and translation practice. Grammar exercises are notoriously unpopular with students. Why not make them fun?
This activity works particularly well with younger learners because of the game element. Everybody is involved; some students practise listening and speaking (especially pronunciation - they must be understood to succeed), while others practise writing, spelling and grammar. The best part about this game is that the students invent their own sentences. They are not forced to use some complicated grammatical structures, so the activity perfectly suits their level. The more advanced the learners are, the more complex structures they'll use, but this will happen quite naturally. The language will simply emerge as they play.

Next time I revisit this idea, it will probably be slightly different. I'll be working in a different classroom and/or with different students, and by that time I'll have changed a little as well. If you decide to try this activity, it will never be the same either because you are not the same. Our lives and everything we do are truly unique. So revisit ideas, reinvent the wheel and keep changing.