11/2/11

Flexibility is Key

Having a plan is incredibly important when entering a classroom. Being organized is a key characteristic of a good teacher and leader, but, as one WorldTeach Colombia volunteer found out, so is flexibility.

"The best laid schemes o' mice an' men
Go oft' astray." Robert Burns

It seems as though Mr. Burns spent some time in a Colombian educational institution, for he speaks the truth. My day revolves around plans. I spend days making them, mere minutes carrying them out, and only seconds changing them or throwing them out entirely. And it seems as though the more I plan, the more my plans go awry.

This afternoon I strode into my English 5 classroom, ready to work. We did our daily journals, peer-edited the newspaper articles they had written for homework, and talked about some idioms. Then came my pièce de résistance - the computer lab. I had finally figured out the university's online classroom (SAVIO) and taken the time to carefully upload information about the grammar topics we were discussing as well web sites with important vocabulary used to talk about mass media and communications, our topic for this portion of the semester. I had crafted a worksheet to get them writing definitions and creating, or finding online, examples of each word. I had planned to have them work on it in the computer lab during class, and then, drumroll please, submit it electronically through the online platform. I must say that I was quite proud of myself, seeing as I have not been blessed with a flair for technology.

The students made it to the lab, and logged into their accounts. And that's about as far as we got. Apparently, the computer lab is not equipped with Word. I had created the worksheet in the Language Center office, and even switched over to the student view in SAVIO to make sure they would be able to see it and download it correctly. But, of course, I didn't imagine that the computer lab would. not. have. Word.

By the time I figured out that was the problem, I had lost them. Some students had left, others were playing Tetris, and everyone was whining like three-year-olds who had missed naptime. With only 20 minutes left of class, I revised my plans. I assigned the worksheet as homework and let them go early.

I have another English 5 class tomorrow morning. And my plans will be changed. But, this time, I shall plan on revising my plans on the spot.

Think you have what it takes to adapt your plans on the spot? See if WorldTeach is right for you! Click here for more information on teaching in Colombia.

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