TESOL France: Luke Meddings and Chuck Sandy on reflecting on how to be yourself in the classroom

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(Photo: Chuck Sandy)

The main thrust of this very lively, participative and practical session was to stimulate and provide us with opportunities to take a step back from our role as teachers in the classroom, and reflect on and explore the ‘self’ – who we are outside the classroom.

Both presenters gave several examples of non-teaching folk who had influenced their lives, they talked about an object that symbolised who they are, and read inspirational texts. In short, they laid their souls bare – including their love for music and literature. Leonard Cohen’s lyrics – the crack where the light gets in – explained a technique, and the Elvis song (Too Much) a real-life example of a move away from traditional roles. For us, we need to break down the artificial divide between our identity inside and outside the classroom.

During the session, we explored ourselves, and described and selected items which represented, in some way, who we are. It was a small step, a nudge, which set us off on the endeavour of identifying self. This self is the soul we should be taking into the classroom, rather than being technicians who are driven, for example, by a lesson plan, the CEFR, standards or a curriculum which descend on us ‘like a James Bond film’.  Such are the things we need to move away from so we can take the real us into the classroom, thus allowing for magical elements, spontaneity and unprepared joy.

Reflecting teachers, rather than reflective teaching – and we had made a start. The crack … I wonder?


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