It Ain’t Easy…Bein’ Sick (this post originally posted 2/10/10)
For the last week and a half I’ve been fighting mano a mano with a sinus/double ear infection. Between the two days with subs and the fact that talking sends me into long-lasting coughing spasms, my students and I switched from our usual dose of verbal interaction to activities that are more reading-centered and group/pair-oriented.
I like all of the activities. I think that they are educationally sound. I think that my students are getting a lot of good, quality, written Comprehensible Input. But I am astounded at the difference in the classes.
First of all, discipline is off. I have to employ signals and silences more often. I really don’t enjoy that. Neither do the students. It isn’t a lot of extra tension…but it is enough to change the classroom atmosphere.
What is REALLY missing, however, is the strong sense of “being in this together.” When they work in pairs or groups, when they work at an individual pace, there is no sense of collegiality. There are no group “inside” jokes. The class feels very different without that!!!
When I am “conducting” the class, and everyone is working on the same story/idea/conversation/topic, it is like being on a family car trip. Sure, there is a little bickering. Yeah, it’s annoying when someone has to stop and go to the restroom. No, everyone does not like the radio station. But….. there are shared moments of hilarity and common experience that create an atmosphere like no other I’ve taught in.
I can’t wait to get back after a week of vacation (next week). Hopefully the coughing etc. will have subsided and we can get to work on using as much Spanish as possible hanging out together. The story of Ana and her adventures in Casi Se Muere are just more interesting when we read it, and talk about it, together. Not just at the same time in the same room. But really together. It goes from being Ana’s story to our story that we read about Ana.
Oh we’ll still do activities that allow students to work ‘out of the group”……but not as often. We need that together time. It’s who we are. We all miss it.
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