Why I couldn’t teach class today

I really wanted to teach class today. I did. I had a lesson plan and everything. But just before class started  I froze. I remembered someone saying something bad about PPP and it hit me like a flash that my lesson started was in fact PPP. The plan started with big fat chunk of presentation which was followed by a sizable box of practice (from controlled to free) and then a sliver of production from the students at the end.  I wasn’t really thinking in those terms when I made the plan but the epiphany came at the worst time, just before I entered the classroom. I smacked myself lightly in the forehead and decided to move along. The situation was unfortunate and nerve-wracking but I then I remembered Scrivener saying something about the jungle path or something like that and I figured I might just survive the lesson. I was feeling adventurous and thinking everything would be ok in the end. Then it hit me. A teacher without a plan is not a professional. I want to be professional so I can’t be a jungle path teacher. So there I was with a lesson plan I couldn’t use but a need to use a lesson plan.  Frozen again. I remembered hearing about extensive reading from all those culty folks interested in ER. I even had a nice little collection of books in the corner and was ready to distribute them when I was reminded that many people don’t lend much credence to the research that ER “works.” I figured I could do an impromptu lecture on a grammar point but then that sounded too teacher-centered I think someone said the present perfect isn’t even a tense anyway. Cripes. Talk about a spanner in the works. No grammar chalk and talk, no ER, no jungle path and no PPP. What is a teacher to do? Maybe I could have just picked a page from the textbook.  There are some problems with this idea. The book is outdated and I think the imagery is inappropriate for my students. I probably would have used the textbook in an emergency like this but I’d already had students tear up their books, Dead Poets Society Style in a fit of inspiration and rage a few weeks back. Also I didn’t bring my version of the book and I couldn’t handle the loss of face that would come out of admitting this. No textbook, no plan, no extensive reading. This teaching stuff is not nearly as easy as I was led to believe. How can we do anything when everything has flaws and issues or isn’t supported by the experts? How do teachers manage to do anything with all this pressure and inefficiency around them? Finally, I just said screw it and we ended up playing hangman.


  1. Carol Goodey

    I have nightmares along similar lines… I’m supposed to be teaching but haven’t yet decided what to do, don’t have the resources, etc

    It may well be that the teaching stuff would be easier if we didn’t think so much about what we’re doing. That seems to be the main problem here – thinking. Perhaps try cutting down on that? 😉

    • mikecorea

      Can I interpret that as a vote for more doing and less worrying? 🙂

      Thanks very much for reading and commenting! (and general support including but not limited to retweeting)

      You might have guessed that I just made this up. BUT there was a kernal of truth to it. Yesterday I got a bit frozen on shoulds/should nots/don’ts and the like. It was an interesting experience!

  2. Pingback: Couldn’t teach today because Confucianism | ELT Rants, Reviews, and Reflections

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