The weeks after midterms are a depressing time of the year for teachers in the United States. Some teachers even have a name for it: DEVOLSON: Dark, Evil Vortex of Late September, October, and November.
The beginning of the semester seems like a lifetime ago. The freshness and excitement of August and September have worn off a long time ago. Students are becoming more tired and apathetic. Winter is right around the corner and yet the end of the semester is nowhere in sight.
The time between Labor Day and Thanksgiving break is the longest stretch without a break in most schools’ calendars. It truly is a test of endurance. As the days drag on, sometimes you just want to curl up and shut the world out for a few days. Of course, for teachers, that’s not an option. We have to be leaders and drag students, sometimes kicking, sometimes screaming, through the remaining classes of the semester.
Teachers can do a few things to help them make it through and come out on the other end less frazzled, if not all rosy. Here’s how I get through these most difficult months.
The beginning of the semester is a busy time for teachers, so I’ll give you the good stuff right away. Below is the student questionnaire I’ll be using for my classes this coming semester. I kept it in Word so you can edit to your heart’s content.
Some quick background: I teach an adult ESL writing class at an intensive English program at an American university.
Now, if you’re interested in why student questionnaires are so important and want to know what to include in a student questionnaire for your own class, then keep reading!
Have you ever found yourself thinking these thoughts?
I wish my students would take fewer risks.
My students should really stop coming up with new ideas.
I need to structure my classes to reduce creativity.
If you have, then you’re on your way to becoming a good teacher. Every teacher should try to find ways to kill creativity in the classroom before it becomes a problem.
When you teach ESL, there are several barriers between you and your student. The obvious one is the language barrier. That’s not what I’m talking about here. The word “understand” in the title is not referring to understanding pronunciation, spelling, or grammar.
This post is about how ESL teachers often have difficulty understanding the motivations, attitudes, goals, and struggles of their students. I’m not trying to attack anyone, and these might not be true for everybody. But if you read one and say “oh shoot, that’s me!”, then you’ve got some things to think about.