Today I had a lesson with a learner and I had planned to do a lesson on phrasal verbs. I had my lesson plan ready (not really a plan, just a few ideas on what I would do and when), my presentation uploaded (this was an online class) and everything was set. The phrasal verb lesson was quite challenging and my learner did want to be challenged, so I was really pleased with what I had prepared for today.
My lesson started and I did a bit of chit chat. My learner said,
I am working from home because I get distracted at work.
and bam…. my lesson plan went down the drain, and I just changed everything!! You see, this phrase got us talking about distractions and working from home.Penny dropping.
I then decided that THIS was the chance to change the lesson into something that was prompted by the learner and something that made her very chatty. So, scratch the grammar lesson, we are gonna do a speaking/ listening class.
What did I do?
I found the Jason Fried TED talk about ‘Why Work Doesn’t happen at Work’ and asked her questions that were actually answered in the TED talk.
Where do you go to get important things done?
What is the connection between work & sleep? She actually got this right!! It is phase based.
What distractions do you have at work? Can you categorise them in real and not important distractions?
We spent about 10 minutes talking about those questions.
I then asked her to take notes of the answers Fried gave to those questions.
Because the TED talk was long (15 mins), I broke it down into 2 halves. Half way through, we discussed her answers to the questions and issues that came up from what she heard. We then heard the rest of the talk and did the same.
So,we talked about what the learner already knew, what she learnt from the talk, and what she wanted to learn from what she heard. This talk actually inspired her to do some research on meetings, managers differences between the USA and France, and Jason Fried!
Did I just have a learner driven lesson?
I think I did. Yes, I prompted her and gave her a provocative TED talk as stimulus. I have never had this learner be so chatty before! She loved it because she is a manager and she could relate to what was being discussed. She actually asked for the link to the TED talk cause she wanted to use it during a meeting.
Me, to myself.
Did I meet my learning objective?
Well, we did not do anything about phrasal verbs, and if my objectives were to
*familiarise learner with phrasal verbs of verbs XYZ and blah, blah, blah,
then, we didn’t, but this spontaneous 5 minute planned lesson was one of the best we have had and she loved it. I am glad the penny dropped when it did, and that I was actually ‘listening’ to my pre-lesson chit chat.
Joanna’s words of wisdom
Do not underestimate the power of chit chat.
Listen to the ‘chit chat’.
Use it to guide you in your choice of material.
It’s OK to chuck out the lesson plan and be spontaneous.
Oh! But do keep in mind that I do have a lesson plan for the Jason Fried TED talk (which I have shared here) and I have used it many times, so while the ‘chucking out’ was spontaneous, I did know what I was doing and talking about. I knew my material very well. I just hadn’t prepared it for today.
So, folks that was my lesson today.I am a Happy Teacher today!
Do you guys have similar experiences? Let me know when you chucked out your LP and did something completely different. How was it?
Till next time…..