The bell rings. All your teenage students get their stuff and quickly leave the classroom. Many of them say a friendly “Bye, teacher!” and give you a pat on the back while leaving. Ok, the class is over, you’ve been through your whole lesson plan successfully but there were lots of problems you had to deal with: one student was two minutes late, another one opened a lollipop during your controlled practice and you had to throw it away and another student read a couple of messages on Whatsapp after she finished a listening task when she knows mobile phones are not allowed in class! And let’s not even start talking about them trying to change the focus of your lesson from Environmental Problems to what happened this morning at school.
It’s hard to be a teacher, isn’t it? Why do these teenagers insist on disrespecting us this way? After those dreadful episodes, you have to get in touch with the parents of those kids!
Ok, enough irony for today.
Whenever I hear that sort of complaint, I can’t help thinking: Why do some of us care about these small details that make no difference at all?
What really matters in the end?
I’m tired of listening to the same whining every time I attend a teachers’ meeting. I can’t stop wondering why some people make such a big deal out of things which make no difference in how much a person acquires a language.
In no class in the world will anybody have missed something crucial because of a 2-minute delay.
A lollipop does not stop one from doing an activity, even if it’s a speaking one.
The generation Y is so used to multitasking that texting a friend and working on a task in the English class is perfectly doable.
I think most of these ‘concerns’ arise because we are living in an age where teachers and Institutions want to show parents that they are doing something – and by doing that sometimes what really should be done gets out of the priorities list.
Instead of using our precious time discussing great ideas we could try in class, studying and criticising new methodologies, creating experiments and challenging things for our students, many times teachers get together to talk about how parents will see what we are doing, what parents will think of the way we deal with homework and tests, and so on and so forth.
I am by no means saying that parents should be ignored in the education of a teenager. But I do think they are not supposed to be the centre of it. We are teaching the students, after all. They should be our main concern. And by doing a good job with them, reaching their parents is a natural consequence.