August 26, 2015

Rumour has it…

Student: [waves book at teacher in hallway] Sir, this is the right book for our course, right? 

Teacher: No! The correct book is the one I listed on the course outline, ordered through the bookstore, and showed you in class! Where did you find that one?

Student: A friend took your course a couple of years ago and said this was the book…

Forbuden_Frugt_smager_bedstThis was the gist of a conversation a friend reported to me last week. He was frustrated that despite his efforts to ensure that students had access to his chosen course text, this student – who, he says, is a good student who has taken other courses with him – seems to have ignored the official channels and relied instead on information from another student. And this isn’t just a matter of a new edition of a recurring text; the books in question are two completely different tomes.

Many teachers have experienced the hearsay phenomenon: a student will let slip that there’s a rumour circulating that a deadline has been extended, or a reading eliminated, or a class cancelled, and the teacher is left scrambling to undo the misinformation. As we can perhaps surmise from the list of examples, often the rumours are wishful thinking – of course students hope that deadline will be extended, or they’ll have one less text to read, or find themselves with a free period. But how do these whispers get started? Continue reading

August 1, 2015

Let’s get physical… or not

As well as being a college English teacher, I am a certified fitness instructor and a registered yoga teacher. I wear a pedometer, and try to exercise every day. I play tennis, I run, I train with weights. My yoga/gym clothes outnumber my ‘street’ clothes.Lotus Head from Johannesburg, Gauteng, South Africa

My love of physical fitness is something to which I came only recently. As in, within the past six or seven years. My motivation came from approaching forty and feeling fat and sluggish – but the real question, I think, should be “how come I wasn’t motivated before?”

As teachers, we often agonize over how to motivate our students. One factor that we should consider, it seems to me, is overcoming demotivators. I wasn’t motivated to become fit or athletic before, because I encountered discouragement early in my schooling, and never questioned or challenged that demotivation. So even though I was aware, in theory, that being active and eating well were good for me, in practice, I tended to avoid sports and exercise because I was shut out of that world as a young student.

Continue reading