Tonight I got onto #langchat late, but when I joined in the question was “What strategies help teachers be more student- centered at different proficiency levels?” My first thought was:
I think the biggest thing for me is that I need to give up control. I have been trained that if I am not talking or not the center of the classroom, then my students are not learning. UNTRUE!
What I have learned this year so far with my level 3 students is that they want to learn. They want to be able to use the language. Recently, we have been doing a lot of reading and listening in the past tense. In my teaching past, I would isolate the preterite and the imperfect, but I decided not to this year so that my students can see how the two are used together. I was nervous because I am used to thinking that they won’t be able to understand the difference and that it wouldn’t be comprehensible.
With our current unit, I have done a lot of story-asking and questioning, but other than that, the activities have been very student-centered. During class time, I often think,
I am doing nothing, but answering questions.
I should be doing something more productive!
I WAS WRONG! I began to see my students use the language. They were making their own conclusions and being inquisitive. I began to see my students’ attempts to use both tenses in their writing and they used them well. It wasn’t always correct, but they were risk-taking, which is what I want from them. There inhibitions were down and they did that, not me.
I have a far ways to go yet, but I am glad that I know that giving up control is okay and sometimes necessary.