Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Teaching tip: Let the kids pick the next person to go

After months of waiting ‘round for some brave soul to raise his hand and go first to read or speak, I got tired of it and instead went for direction action: I pick the first student to go and have him pick the next student. The next student in turn chooses the next one. Since doing so, activities run smoother and quicker thanks to eliminating the down time. It worked so well I wish I’d done it sooner.

I was warned against letting the students choose the speaking/participating order in the States because it usually results in kids picking on other kids and bullying them into speaking before the group. I was told to have kids volunteer because it makes the teacher less of a dictator and more of a facilitator. And while yes, I have seen kids bully other kids and disrupt the class in the States, I noticed that the bullying doesn’t happen in the classrooms here. The students do tend to choose their friends, but those friends choose other friends, so eventually everyone gets to go.*

One classroom reality is no one wants to go first because volunteering to do so takes nerves of steel. This reality’s doubled in Korea because the culture revolves around group activities. Moreover, the students are generally shyer than their US counterparts due because they don’t have to do as much public speaking as US kids. They instead wait to be told what to do and therefore have no problems with being asked to pick the next person. And while I suppose taking direct action makes me more of a dictator, I’ve also helped the class run better. Sometimes the teacher does indeed need to step in and direct the traffic. Doing so certainly beats standing there for 30 seconds while the group wonders what’ll happen next.

*This may have something to do with Korean classes spending all day together. Each grade gets divided into classes and those classes get their own room.

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