This is the second of a series of blogposts focusing on some of the best songs of the last fifty years and looking at how we can use them in the classroom and how they can help us as teachers to remember how we can survive in the classroom and reflect on our practice.
You can read the introduction to this series here.
One of my fave songs of the sixties (just as International House Teacher Training was getting in to the swing of things) was ‘It’s My Party’ by Leslie Gore.
We have already looked at how we can use this song in the classroom, so now let’s have a look at what the song might say to us as teachers and how it inspires us to reflect on our teaching.
As the slides to the talk outline
this song helps us to remember that:
It’s not our party! and We shouldn’t cry in class!
What this means to me in reality is:
•Put the students first, don’t talk about or plan ‘your’ lesson, plan theirs!
If you have a problem class or student for example, you might find it easier to deal with them if you have them in the forefront of your thoughts when you are planning ‘their’ lessons. This simple change in attitude / approach to planning, can help you to focus on what they need rather than what you (or your course book, perhaps?) want to do. Which brings us onto:
•Do what the students want to do and need to do
It’s their party, so always have their wants and needs in mind when you plan your lessons and as you move through the class, don;t set the agenda yourself or be led by your institute or an anonymous course book writer who’s never met your students, if it’s going to be to their detriment.
•Listen carefully to what your students are saying
Make sure you respond to them as human beings first and language learners later. Make sure you listen to how you can improve the language their using – and also the language they’re not using – are they avoiding using any more natural or better ways of saying something and so need to focus on it?
•Always be in a good mood
Your job is to also be positive and to ensure the students are provided with entertaining and challenging classes that allow them to learn and motivate them to do so too. Don’t bring in any downsides to your life (be it an argument with a colleague just before you go to class or your grumbling about your lack of a pay increase) to the classroom. The students want and deserve a happy teacher in a good mood. If anyone cries in the classroom it should be the students’ tears of joy.
The third of these four points inspires the observation task that goes with this song – you can either use this to self-reflect on your own lessons or use to observe a colleague during the peer observation process. We use this task each month on our CELTA courses at IH in Buenos Aires.
I hope you enjoy these ideas and I’d love to hear yours – how does It’s My Party inspire you as a teacher?
How helpful do you find the observation task? Do you have any similar or better to share?