Reflections on 2 successful lessons

Or to be more accurate, one lesson delivered to two groups.


From the outset, this lesson felt mindfully planned and well "shaped". I was confident of its success with this particular group of students - first semester dual study, German business students. I had taken into consideration their stated course goals at the start of the semester and anticipated a positive response to the plan I had come up with. The reality was even more than I could have hoped for.

Why was I feeling so confident?


1. The plan was simple and well structured.

2. It reflected some good advice recently given at a conference plenary talk.

3. I was applying Thinking Environment principles.


A positive opening Round set the students up for optimum brain use. Then after a few minutes of "Memory Talk" to recall what had been covered in the previous lesson, my students were primed for the day's task. The instructions were quite simply:

  • Choose
  • Read
  • Research
  • Relate
  • Present

The end goal was to give a presentation on findings resulting from research conducted in light of what was read from the course material (in this case Business Spotlight, 6/2016), and how it related to their own life and/or work experience. Each student was given free range to choose from the various articles in the magazine, pair up with someone who had made the same choice, then get stuck into the task.


We mutually agreed a schedule for the task, including time for a break, and I made myself available for any questions. They were free to go where they needed to in order to access research options (not everyone likes to work on their smartphone), and create any visual aid material.


For 2 hours, I quietly observed,  giving in to my "teachers should help" voice only once. It was clear that I was not needed. These students were in the zone and perfectly capable of managing the task independently.


Boosted by what I had heard during the TESOL France conference in Paris at the weekend, I was confident of this approach. Harry Kuchah, most memorably, talked about letting children take the lead. While my students are young adults, the principles remain the same - see the image below.


Feedback from both groups at the end of each session, confirmed the effectiveness of this hands-off approach. They all agreed that, having been given the parameters and clear end goal, being able to manage how they went about their work was liberating. Watching them, it was plain to see how engaged they were. Plus, having told me why it was important, they operated in English nearly the entire time. They had voiced themselves, how using the target language supports their overall learning goals. I didn't need to "infantalise" by telling them.


Once the presentations had been successfully delivered and feedback exchanged, I congratulated them on a task well done. I appreciated them for participating so actively, listening attentively during the presentations, and offering valuable feedback to each other. The later group kept going till from 1-5pm, willingly and enthusiastically. That for me, is a sure sign of a job well done!

Harry's summary. Why it works to let learners lead
Harry's summary. Why it works to let learners lead
What one learner said about how she learns better with her friend!
What one learner said about how she learns better with her friend!

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