The old showbusiness adage, "Never work with animals or children", rings true for teaching, well at least the animals part. However, many long days into the semester, you cannot help but thinking how difficult teenagers can be to work with. They have the habit of pushing the frustration, disappointment, sadness, irritation and irrational buttons of themselves, their peers and of course us, as their teachers. It takes many "counts of ten", "deep breaths" and "time-outs", in order to get through the week. But, that is our profession, and it is what we all signed up for, right?
What do we do to overcome such feelings? Well, experience does allow you to work through those emotions with some semblance of sanity, but it isn't easy for anyone. So, with eighteen years under my teaching belt, I am still looking for ways to make an impact on my students to keep them inspired, motivated and willing to follow through on the promises they make to themselves (and us) at the beginning of the year. My latest addition to my teacher-bag of tricks and tips is
The Class MANIFESTO.
The details and expectations of the Manifesto are all part of what the students know already. With continuous reminders on Monday mornings, when they have forgotten why they are learning, the students have switched off to the warnings, cajoling and, dare I say it, threats from my colleague and myself, we reached a point when we were facing apathy, disengenuous (positive) and rather impartial attitudes from every student. The winning factor, as to why the new strategy has initiated a new face of our prep. class students, is that we didn't force it upon them as something they had to sign up to. We gave them the choice of following the Manifesto and adhering to it. This meant they gave, or didn't, their important signature. You can see how much a teenager's signature means to them when you ask them to commit. We made it work for us, and last week was a huge turnaround. It was an exciting and fulfulling week. Were we tired? Of course! But it was more physical than mental. This was the difference, and I would rather have that type of tiredness any weekend day of the week.
The students were given the option to sign it or not (their version has a blank box for name and signature on the bottom left). Fortunately for us, they all signed up, and here are some examples of what the students think of the new Manifesto and Student' commitment.
“When we think about the Manifesto, it is a new start for us with new rules, and we are happy.” Emre
“The Manifesto isn’t just about splitting the class level. It is also about doing homework on time, and with full concentration.” Talya
“The students who chose not to sign the Manifesto will have less chances to improve in the new activities.” Sinan
“The Manifesto makes us push to speak and use English more.” Rüzgar
“The best point of the Manifesto is it tells us we shouldn’t think only about points, and take more risks when we are learning.” Oğüzhan
“Some of us stopped doing anything properly. It will change our attitude to lessons.” Gözde
“Last week, something outstanding happened in our class. The Manifesto is a huge advantage for us.” Kaan
“I hope when we finish this year we will all have a higher level of English.” Lalmina
“This Manifesto should help us to push ourselves to do better homework.” Melis
If you would like the template, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org