My Last Lesson – Guest Post by Phil Wade (@phil3wade)

Phil Wade, EFL educator and blogger (Image by Phil Wade)
It is a great honour to introduce my new guest blogger, Phil Wade, a great educator and very prolific blogger. You can see all his posts and work on his blog, EFL Thoughts and Reflections.

Thank you so much, Phil!

I seem to be stuck in an endless circle with full courses in that the first few lessons/weeks involve getting to grips with the course and the students. Then it’s mid-term and there’s often some kind of test and just a few weeks later everyone is stressed about the final one and then…it’s the last class. Job done, time for a holiday and to think about next term.
I only really feel like I’ve got to grips half way or even towards the end of the course. There is the usual ‘trial and error’ phase or classes where I tried different approaches, some work some fail. I’ve always been one for adapting lessons to individual classes, I don’t believe in ‘one size fits all’, never have and, well, probably never will. Yes, I hear you say, it does mean more work and effort, stress too but that’s me and many of my PLN are the same. I know countless teachers who just ‘do the course’ with no differentiation at all and every year is the same. Not for me.
However, after teaching the same courses, age groups and with the same materials, in theory I can hit the ground running in the first week. Many years ago I had this situation and I had the courses down to an art form and was super slick, I even knew every page of the books. Yet, it was dull and pointless as I was just delivering something to people, not students. They could have been mannequins actually.
Now that I’ve finished another term I’m in the war room developing a new plan of attack for the next battle. Ideally, I need to think about what worked well and figure out why so I can emulate it but it also must allow space for adaptation.
The other things that I’m prepared for are all the ‘last minute surprises’ from the admin people. Next time the “you need to mark 50 reports in 3 days” won’t give me a heart attack like last time. I’m also aware that deadlines are not real deadlines and I’m prepared to say “I don’t have time”. This is how it seems to be done so I’ll just do as the locals.
As my students recently got their grades though there may yet be trouble in store. There is always at least one student who questions their grade and support from your boss varies from place to place. What I don’t like is when you get no guidelines or comments about your grades but then if someone complains suddenly you’ve done something wrong. This period is perhaps the calm before the storm and there may be one or they might not. Perhaps it’s a good time to go abroad for a long holiday. ‘Til next term I bid you adieu!

8 thoughts on “My Last Lesson – Guest Post by Phil Wade (@phil3wade)

  1. Hi Phil!

    Many thanks for your blog post! It is a great reflection on your last lesson. I hope you will be able to have some holidays as well : )

    Thank you so much,

  2. HAHAHA! Holidays? For us freelancers holidays mean no pay but things are getting quiet and I owe my family a break so maybe I can squeeze something affordable in somewhere.

    Thanks again and now I’m REALLY looking forward your guest post on my blog!

  3. Very interesting post.
    I certainly grapple with some of the issues myself.
    Surprised that there are no clear guidelines for grading. I guess there are some advantages to being a teacher in the school system.While there is always room to argue a bit its more of a clear cut issue.
    Hang in there, its worth the extra work preparing new materials, keeps you sane!

    1. Well, I have some very precise, too precise actually, guides for some but places always have their own slant on them. What I mean is that some school gives high grades and others low. I asked a secretary about it and she said 1 or 2 100%s was OK. However, that really isn’t possible according to the bands on the sheet yet what for me is ‘excellent and diverse grammar’ probably isn’t what the locals think it is.

  4. It’s the “You need to write 50 young learner reports in 3 days, oh and do it in Catalan” that usually gets teachers in Barcelona! Thankfully I’ve not had that one come my way, but I’ve heard the horror stories 🙂

    1. Ey up George lad,

      Ah, I see we are brothers in arms. In Catalan? Eeek. My friend’s coursebook was half in English and half in Chinese in 2009. That was a bit difficult to say the least but saying that I think all of them had some Chinese in. These were often the ‘inspired from western books’ ie the huge Public Speaking book from the US costs 100Euros but the smaller summary local one only 2. At one stage I had 3 versions of that book . I also had a book written by our uni that then appeared with a different cover on in another uni’s publishing house’s shop. Who needs copyright eh?

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