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Entries in Back to School (5)


Overheard at Back to School...

By Ray Franklin

Sometimes the most important "learning moments" come during the chats between presentations, such as this randomly overheard comment:  

“Interviews show that often there is one key person or turning point in a student's trajectory, where one particular comment or recommendation by a teacher or other respected person will change that student's life path.”

Ever since hearing this comment, I have been reflecting on the teachers and turning points that have led me to 20 years of teaching English in Osaka, as well as how some seemingly random comment by a teacher like us "Your English is good." or "You should consider studying abroad." could change a student's life and send them on adventures across the world!

So let's try to do more of that.


2011 Back to School: Michelle Graves

What follows is a summary of the presentation by Michelle Graves. 

Student Self Management Diary – Helping students to become better students

By Michelle Graves

In the session I demonstrated a tool, that is basically a behaviour modification tool, that I developed to quickly identify to my students what I expected in class (punctuality, pencils etc), but turned the management of it back onto the students. I was driven to create this tool because I wanted to fix things that were important to me in my classroom; to create a smoother environment for teaching, and it needed to be a non-distracter in class.

I believe that students honestly do not realize they are continually late, forgetting textbooks and the list goes on, and it needs to be drawn to their attention.  I didn’t want to be seen as penalizing these actions but rather rewarding the good actions, hence the “√/” and “X/” system.

This behaviour modification handout is given out and collected each lesson.  I do this quickly by either having the students in set groups or rows with one student handing out and handing back the handout each lesson.  I want it to appear that I am not involved so the students basically manage it themselves. But they like the bonus ticks provided by me to reward good behaviour.  While I don’t appear strict, I keep an eye on things.  As a teacher, you know, you soon uncover two types of students - the good students and the trouble makers.  You usually only have a small handful of these students so it easy to keep track of what students are putting on the handouts.  It is not that important to monitor, it is more the threat of an “X”, and the embarrassment of a“√” when homework was not done only happens once (if you are unlucky).

I make the introduction of the handout a lesson.  I use terms like “First and family name”, “Underline your first name”, “What is the day you have this class” etc..  If a student comes late, that is used as an example for “L”, if a student talks, that is used as an example also, if a student does something good, like answer a question etc. he/she is rewarded with a bonus tick.  I find that while they do not actually understand my English, they certainly understand what I like and do not like within the first 15 minutes of the lesson to gain bonus ticks.  A copy of the handout I use is below; I change it to fit the class needs.  The comment section is where I make notes for the student if required, it has been useful on many occasions where I have had to fail a student.  I also take time write positive notes to students throughout the semester.

The handout can be downloaded HERE.


Back to School...

Thanks to everyone who came out to our Back to School event. It was a great day with lots of wonderful presentations. We raised over ¥50,000 to help victims of the Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami. We will be donating the money to Save the Children Japan. Thanks also to the FLP and TBL SIGs for helping to make this event happen.

For those of you who couldn't come, we will be publishing summaries of the presentations starting later this week here on the blog. Be sure to check it out!

We have several more things lined up for the coming months and we hope to see everyone at a future event.