In my previous post, I tried to analyze the concept of so-called Reflective Practice Mission Statement (RPMS). After having read another post of John Pfordresher's, my outlook on the issue has narrowed down. The author was so kind and this time he offered a practical example, possibly to make things easier for anyone eager to take up the challenge:
This is a fun ice breaker I use in class. It’s also a great way to get an RP meeting started.
strongly disagree disagree agree strongly agree
1) Teachers must teach grammar explicitly if learners are to acquire language effectively.
2) Teachers who don’t utilize technology in class are doing a disservice to their students.
3) Teachers have to understand the correlation between student emotions and student needs to be effective.
I have no clue if the author wants us to ponder about the statements and elaborate on them in our posts, or whether he plans to discuss them on his own. It may be a coincidence but the second statement is actually expanded on in his subsequent post, which, at first sight, has nothing to do with the RPMS challenge (at least it is not stated explicitly). By the way, I can't agree more with the following quote:
"The job of a modern English language teacher is to help students navigate their world through the medium of English. It isn’t about using technology to teach students, it’s about teaching students how to understand, decipher and decode English when using technology".
Anyway, back to my case. It often happens that ideas and solutions suddenly dawn on me. Well, I admit that this is often a result of a previous analysis and contemplation. This 'awakening' usually occurs when I concentrate on something unrelated to the initial problem. Yesterday I was watching the Downton Abbey series, which a friend of mine had kindly recommended to me a while ago, when a new Reflective Practice Mission Statement sprang to mind.
Being a non-native English teacher has a lot of drawbacks, but it can also give me an advantage.
This may sound like an attempt to find an excuse but I'm about to explain it. As a non-native speaker of English I am constantly learning - both consciously and systematically in order to keep up with whatever I need to, and unintentionally (learning is just a side effect). Mind you, I'm not saying that native speakers aren't learning and refining their mother tongue all their lives. But my bonus is that I've gone through all the phases of getting a grasp of the foreign language (as opposed to acquiring it). What is more, I've tried various learning styles and I was a witness to a plethora of teaching methods when I was a student myself. I strongly believe in learner autonomy and my contention is that if a student acquires the right approach to learning, he or she can achieve almost anything. The method is the key.
What on earth then does Downton Abbey have to do with my RPMP? It's simple; when watching the first episode, I found it somewhat difficult to understand some of the British accents. However, as the series went on, I felt more and more comfortable. Was it because I got accustomed to the accents? Maybe. But more importantly, I got more and more context as the plot and characters developed. With more context comes a better understanding. This applies to listening and reading in general.
This insight is something quite obvious for me as a teacher but it can be truly valuable for my students. I'm not implying that a native speaker can't provide the learner with the same piece of advice, but having experienced something, one undoubtedly sounds more authentic.
That's it for the time being - I'm passing the baton...