Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Goal: Do a Case Study #30GoalsEdu

 This year the 30 Goals Challenge for Educators is on a world tour and I am happy to be your Inspire Leader for this part of the journey.

Accomplish this goal: 
Think of a student or students that challenged you in terms of your teaching, discipline, that caused problems or made you re-think the way you teach. How did you handle it? Did it make you change the way you are as a person or as a teacher?

 My reflection:
When I suggested this particular goal, I had a couple of students in mind, that were a "particular" case to study, but, I soon realized that each and every one of our students are a "Case study", more or less...
 As Vicky Loras said in her plenary talk  at the TESOL Macedonia Thrace Convention, they are not mixed-ability classes, but "multy- human classes"
Let me give you the definition of this collocation first:
Case study
A detailed analysis of a person or group, especially as a model of medical, psychiatric, psychological, or social phenomena.
So, why do we use this term only when something "bad" happens?
 Maybe because the "good" students, "great" achievements, "big" accomplishments are something to be expected?
What happens to the other students, who have problems in their families, who are going through a hard time with puberty, who have learning difficulties? Are they our "case studies"? 
Let me share a story of a student now:
When I started teaching , it was my second, third year, I was assigned with this class, second year German, students in their early teens.
Among them:
  • A very good student, very serious, talked like an adult actually, very organized, very strict with herself and with others.
  • A student with learning difficulties, could not write well, mixed the letters, could not read well, mixed the words, parents did not admit he had a problem, refused to seek professional help, student trying soooo hard to keep up with the class, with no result.
  • The school- gossip, a girl in her teens who had to know everything and tell it to everybody.... Sign of puberty? sign of character?
  • The class "entertainer", who always had to do something "funny" because he had to...
  • And last but not least... the classroom "bully"... this guy just had to do something bad to EVERYONE, including the teacher (that would be me... )
I have to confess that in Greece, when you study to be a teacher, they don't teach you psychology, they don't teach you classroom management (at least when I used to go to university, we just studied the language we were going to teach and some kind of methodology) 

As an inexperienced and untrained teacher, I didn't quite know how to handle the situation... Not to mention that I did not have any kind of support from the director of the school (all students are clients, therefore money...)

So, avoid the problem? Ignore it is not happening? 
Back then I felt so frustrated... Now when I think about it, after so many years, I am calm... 

  • Good students never bothered me... On the one had it is really annoying when somebody does everything for the good grade and becomes hysterical when they don't get it, but that's not a real problem... the real problem is when the parent becomes hysterical if their child gets an A minus!!
  • The learning disabilities ARE a problem, especially if you are not trained to deal with it...What to do? Try and convince the parents to do the best for their child...
  • The school - gossip? Well... IGNORE?
  •  The "entertainer" Well these kids need attention... why? Maybe they don't get it at home? Usually they are very clever... Give them responsibilities, thank and praise them... Yes it works..
  • Well the "bully" ... this is a problem.... Punish? Will it make a difference? Being strict never made the difference... These kids need attention, support and not punishment... Can we find out about them? What happens at home? Who's to blame for such behavior?
I am sure that all of us have encountered such "case studies".
How do you deal with them? Any particular ones?  Care to share?

About my country:

I live in the second biggest city in Greece, Thessaloniki.
My hometown is a place with lots of interests, tourist attractions, a big harbor and has a lot of history.

You can see some information in the video below (created by my students for the "on the air project")

 If you ever come to Thessaloniki, you should try our famous Bougatsa!!!

 That's all folks!!!

 Find out more about The 30 Goals Challenge for Educators at and join our 30 Goals Facebook community!”

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