Monday, 31 January 2011

Why do you need to allow 'Talk' in your classroom?

The most powerful tool you can have is your voice. You put your ideas, your dreams, your imagination, your views and your character into your voice. You express your opinion and you find way towards perfection by sharing and listening to other opinions.
The language is the only different ability than other species that humankind possesses. We would like to be heard and valued since we were born. Why do babies cry when they are unhappy? Why do they gurgle and bubble when they are fine? They imitate the older children and parents. They want to be just like them and tell their emotions with words.
I know that silence was overrated in schools years ago. Teachers used to punish students who spoke during the lessons. I remember my teachers did not even talk to us apart from giving classroom instructions and explaining the topics. We had to be quiet and still. We could not even fidget! Honestly, there are times now that I think the old days were better:) However, I know for sure that they were not better! All of us were oppressed  with fear of corporal punishment and could not say what we really thought about the world...No, it was not better!
For example; when you meet with a friend for coffee, you would not sit there for an hour and wait for your friend to talk without disruption. After 15 minutes, you would start fidgeting, huffing and puffing! It's humans' natural reaction. So why do we expect that in classes? What makes teachers so special that they think everybody should listen to them for an hour without interrupting? Absolutely nothing!

Make sure that in your lessons you plan time to talk between pairs or groups. Let them share their opinion even if they are not agreeable. They will learn how to negotiate, how to apply new knowledge and how to internalize them. If you have English as an Additional Language students, they will benefit from other students' and teacher's modelling. They are like babies in their new language. They will listen to others and after awhile they will start to gurgle, bubble, cry and shout! You will see the miracle very soon...I promise....


Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Can you change the fate of a child as a teacher?

I remember when he first arrived to our school. He was eleven. He has been to UK for a year. He was very bright and learned the vocabulary quickly. He was one of the most successful students in the induction group. Always asked questions and listened to the answers very carefully. During parents' evening, his dad enquired about his levels and he seemed pleased with the teachers' comments about his son.
I had high expectations of him and motivated him to study higher education. After achieving a certain level of English, we stopped supporting him intensively because I knew that all he needed was in-class support and monitoring.
In the past year, his behaviour has changed. He became oblivious to his lessons and actions. He parted from our support towards an unknown place.Bad company did not help him to keep up with good standards. He was going through teenage problems alongside with a family who did not spend quality time with him. His sister told me that recently, he was going out and coming back at midnight. This caused a lot of problems between his father and him. The school was in regular contact with the family. It seemed like nothing we did worked for him. Or was it the case?..What else could you do for students like him as a teacher? I admire some teachers who start working with a student and change the destiny for that student. However, when you have over 30 students in one class and nearly 60% of them with similar problems, I suppose as a school, more structured mentoring is needed.
Due to his bad behaviour, his dad saw the only way out is to send him back to his own country. He was not told that he was going there for good. He thought that he was going there for holiday. When he arrived there, his father told him on the phone that he was there to live for the rest of his life.
There are many problems in his country such as; poverty and civil war.  
Was that the only solution? I am not sure...However, when his father took the decision, he did not see that it was necessary to consult the school or anybody else. This is the point where your role as a teacher ends! This is the time, you stop talking! This is the time that you understand, as a teacher your power is limited and your hands are tied!

Sunday, 9 January 2011

Diversity Week Assembly...

Learning a language is a very exciting experience. It brings many advantages to people’s lives.
When we are learning a language it is not enough just to speak, to read, to write the language. Learning a language is like learning a song….We need to feel it. We need to understand the meaning, sense of humour, culture and thought behind it. We need to discover the rhythm of the language. Through this discovery we learn and understand the structure of our first language and our own culture better. This discovery also brings us closer to the native speakers.

As the Sicilian poet Ignazio Butitta said;

“Shackle a people, strip them bare, cover their mouth; they are still free
Deprive them of work, their passports, food and sleep; they are still rich
A people are poor and enslaved when they are robbed of the language inherited from their parents: it is lost forever”

Our school has a very diverse and multi- lingual environment. We value first languages, cultures, religions, identities and race. We aim to create a safe and enjoyable learning space for our students. We celebrate global events such as; European Languages Day, Black History Month, Fair Trade Week, Gypsy Roma Traveler Month, Refugee Week and Diversity Week. We believe all our students gain a lot from these multicultural celebrations.       

I believe that only by getting to know others, our students can get to know themselves better and therefore, their self confidence can grow. If we wish peace in the world, first we should have peace at home.   

I would like to warmly welcome you to our school and I know that you as parents, play a very crucial part in the success of your children. We believe that with your support and the school’s guidance, our students will be able to achieve their highest potential.

Sunday, 2 January 2011

Refugee Week 20-26th of June 2011

What is a Refugee?
A Refugee is a person who has to leave their country to escape danger.

What is an asylum-seeker?
An asylum-seeker is someone who has fled from their own country and seeking refugee status in other countries.

Why do people become refugees?
People may have to leave their countries because of war or because of their colour, religion or beliefs.

How many refugees are there in the world?
There are about 62,000,000 refugees in the world.