Choosing your teacher

Getting rid of the boring teacher
Catchy title don’t you think? Well, this was the title of a reading text I was using with my students today, so I thought it would be a good idea to talk a bit about this title, activate my learners’ schematic knowledge. So I did, and my, oh my, was I surprised!
Let me begin by giving you a bit of context though.
Context
At the moment, I am teaching English for academic purposes in the UK. The majority of my learners are post graduate students who will be moving on to a master’s degree. Their English is not at the necessary level so they are attending this EAP course. Most of these students are Chinese and this is for most of them, their first time in the UK. Today, my focus was on reading and the aim was to get the learners to make predictions about a text by reading the title. So I did.
Getting rid of the boring teacher-the title.
I asked my students, ”Look at this title. What do you think this text will be about?”
They replied, ”this text is about firing boring teachers”.
So I then asked, ”What makes a teacher boring?” and this is what I got. Some of the answers I expected, others, not so much.
Boring is a teacher:

  • who is not funny and does not have a sense of humor.
  • who only does things from the book/ reads everything from a book.
  • who is strict (?!) not flexible.
  • who does not show any facial expressions, stands still.
  • who doesn’t have a lot of knowledge.
  • who doesn’t tell us stories about her/his life (: O Didn’t see that one coming!).
So this is what, for my learners, makes a teacher boring.  we discussed them in a bit more detail and then ….. Then I decided to become the devil’s advocate and said, ”Yes, but what you may think is boring, I may find interesting”.  That is when they said something which I really, did NOT expect.
”That is why we should have different teachers teaching the same subject. We should be allowed to choose the teacher we want”. ” Huh? Say what?”In fact, one of my students told me that at her college in China, the students could choose the teacher they wanted and that there were teachers with 60 students and others with 3!A learner can do this if it is a one to one lesson but at school? At uni?
Choosing your teacher?
So, when we think of learning styles, do we also consider teacher styles? Isn’t a learner’s learning style affected by his/her personality? Does it actually all come down to rapport? Learning something, for me, has to do with giving and taking. The teacher gives, the learner takes. The learner gives, the teacher takes. So, why not match different teachers with different learners based on what type of teacher the student wants?
I am a happy, chatty teacher, who moves around and makes jokes occasionally, but is that suitable for all my learners? Maybe not. I also run a business in my home town. I have never, till now, thought of giving the students the option of taking a class but choosing the teacher. I know of students choosing subjects cause of teachers or their friends, but choosing among teachers, teaching the same subject? I like the idea! I think it is very learner centered actually. I do not know if it is practical or realistic but it would be a good idea, don’t you think?

Final thoughts
I am really interested in your views fellow teachers so feel free to comment. Does this happen somewhere you know? Do tell : )

Till next time……..

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2 thoughts on “Choosing your teacher

  1. At our local south-coast language school, students have a number of teachers during their stay for the reasons you mention and for the experience of hearing English spoken in a variety of ways – as we all have different teaching styles and ways of speaking. They have one main teacher but also lessons with others.

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  2. It would be ideal if we could choose the type of teacher we want to study with. The reality in my location is that the number of English language teacher's that are located here is limited.

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