Thursday, 18 August 2011

Mixed Ability Madness

The Scenario

At some point during our career we get one of those classes that are made up of mixed abilities. By mixed abilities, I mean different levels within the same class, not students who are good at writing and others who are good at listening. Of course, I understand that within a level descripter such as Intermediate there are more and less capable students. 

I'm talking about a class where students are really different in levels. At the moment I've got a false beginner and an Upper-Intermediate student in the same class. The problem is when it's a closed group and you can't move them to an appropriate class. "You can't please everyone all of the time" takes on a new meaning in this situation! If you're not careful you can end up pleasing nobody.

This is my reality at the moment.

What I've been doing.

I've only had two classes with this class and I've tried a few things.

1. I've used the stronger students as peer teachers, explaining simple rules to weaker students and helping them complete exercises.
2. I've given the stronger students more teacher like roles, such as reading out texts used in dictagloss activities.
3. I've got the stronger students at the board eliciting vocabulary from the weaker students and writing it up on the board.
4. I've given the higher level students work to do separately whilst in class with the other students.


I'm not happy with this situation. It feels like I'm short changing everyone. The lower levels are perhaps being made to feel uncomfortable and the higher levels are probably feeling used.
The problem is that I have no alternative. What can I do? Any suggestions? What do you do with mixed ability classes?

#ELTchat Mixed Ability Classes

Saturday, 6 August 2011

Work/Life Balance

This is a post I wrote back in February. I didn't post it then. It seems the right time now, as I've not been here for a while. I'd love to say that it's because I've been writing a book or taking part in an International conference but nothing so grand as that only the beach.

Life is a balancing act it seems. Last night after dinner whilst my boyfriend was watching football , I sat in the kitchen cutting up and laminating things for the class. I was quite content as he walked by, patting me on the head ,which I took to mean either poor thing or you're mad!

It's not the first time someone has given me that look. I know as far as my efforts blogging are concerned there are a whole host of people who think that I'm wasting my time and that it could be better spent on other things.

I wrote a book review recently and I was given the same pitying looks. Like what is she doing. The looks grew even more pitying when I informed people that NO I wasn't getting paid for this. 
I enjoy my job. One of the best lessons in life that my own parents taught me was "if you're going to do a job, whatever job, do it to the best of your abilities" . I've applied this to all of my jobs even when I worked in Burger King as a student I took it seriously. My counter service time was fast!

All joking apart. I'm a teacher and as a teacher I have a duty to my students to do my best which I try and do. Sometimes I spend more time planning than others but my guding principle, is that which my parents installed in me as a child.

Commitment to professional development is part of this and increasing my knowledge by following blogs and by joining in with #ELTchats on twitter are ways that I can try to be as "good" a teacher as I can be.

Work is important but so is play and I make sure that I get my own free time whether it's to go riding, to the beach, to the pool or just to lie around and read a book. I find time for myself!

Hopefully this explains my lack of blogging here. I've been at the beach! I'm still reading blogs and trying to make it to #ELTchat but that's all, at the moment. Next week, I'm painting the house and the shed, so I don't expect to be back until September.

If you're on holiday enjoy it!