Love all, trust a few, do wrong to none
March 17, 2011 § 6 Comments
Were it not for the sympathetic ear of a daughter, Cintia’s dad’s journey of a thousand miles in English would have ended after the first step. His spirit had been broken, and he needed a hug. This, along with her more recent story about the relationship that unfolded between her and one lone student next to a pile of idle photocopies suggests her natural empathy will guide her well, but for now, she’s grateful to know there are trustworthy hands to hold out there.
Shelly’s Goal 22 is about mentoring.
It’s a long drive to this one school and I’ve been setting off when the little birdies have still been clearing their throats and tuning up. They’re a leading school in the area, and teachers from other schools will be looking to them for ideas on good practice in a few weeks’ time at the Festival of Learning, which I’m privileged to be part of.
I’d done a demonstration day with them a few weeks ago – teaching a number of classes with teachers and teaching assistants watching, but the head and EAL leader had contacted me on Monday to say that the assistants had cold feet. They needed to see me again.
We laughed afterwards as one had flashed glances at me while she was employing techniques we’d talked about beforehand, simple dogme stuff like not fighting against the tide but going with the flow. Last time I was down, a plane had flown past the window. To 6-year-olds, this is nothing to be sniffed at, so they were offered the chance to tell their talk-partners about a time they’d flown, or been on a long journey somewhere. Then back to the whiteboard, their curiosity sated.
I had told the head that I’d like them to cycle by themselves, as it were, with me running after them, holding on to the saddle and letting go once they’d picked up speed, rather than me doing the pedalling. Of course, they sped off straight away, and more often than not I was just a willing bystander. Using Language Garden is easy, there’s a clear focus and engaging activities, and in small groups, learners pretty much direct themselves. Like the lesson I did with Rachel, only more talking in between, and more repetition of the branches.
In another of the sessions, two older children, a boy of Russian and Lithuanian descent, and a girl from Zimbabwe, were amazed at all the connections, history, geography, economics, we’d woven from the following verse from a poem about the market in Zanzibar:
I love the smell of the colourful spices
and the feel of the soft silk from The Orient
in the winding streets of the bustling market
in the old town of the important port of Zanzibar.
We’d taken a short CLIL detour into the long voyages to the spice islands of Indonesia, and the little role play had unearthed “profit”, “cost -” and “selling price”. The assistant positively brimmed with pride during the feedback session when I said I thought it was a perfect lesson. Well it was, replete with language, learning, laughter and love. She’d thought as much. She just needed to hear it from someone she trusted.