Everybody can paint!

I’m writing this post in response to @kalinagoenglish challenge presented in her blog. You can read my answer to the previous challenge here.

I will start this post by thanking my students for having inspired me to write it, and I would like especially to thank Gisela for being so generous as to share pieces of her life with us every class. One of those was this photo, and a moving retelling of her mother’s 60th birthday.

Cake prepared and decoarated by Gisela (one of my students)

You may be wondering what is the relationship between this picture and Karenne’s challenge. By the way, talking about the challenge, the quotation for this week is:

Dogme is about teaching
materials light.
I have to admit that on the day in which Gisela brought this picture to the classroom, I had entered it material heavy, as I had prepared a lesson based on an article from The Guardian newspaper. However, as soon as I entered, I noticed one of my students had come carrying a burden too. Of course, as you can imagine, everybody (including me) was more interested in her burden than in mine. So I let things flow in order to see what came out of it. She opened her rucksack and a magical element came out of it:
Not only was she going to impose her own agenda in my class, but she was also going to obligue me to plug it, when the whole TEFL blogosphere is all the rage for unplugged teaching! How cheeky of her! (jajajaj) No, seriously! At that moment I realised she had been well-trained. What an honour to have a student in my class who was  becoming autonomous and getting in charge of her own learning. And what’s more, without having realised it.  She said, unaware of  my enthusiastic thoughts,  “I’ve brought  the pictures of my mother’s birthday. Remember I’ve told you about it?”. Yes! Of course I remember!
She started going through the pictures and telling us about what was going on there. She even showed us a video. Everybody was looking at the screen, asking questions, happy to finally put a face to  Gisela’s daughters. While we were discussing the pictures, I wrote some things on the blackboard. We revised how to make questions, I introduced them to vocabulary to talk about people’s personality, and so on and so forth. Time flew and  it was almost time for ending the class.  My students realised they had learnt lots of things without having noticed.
Gisella told us that her mother loves painting and that’s why the party had been  thematic, art had been everywhere! The guests before leaving the party had to paint a little part in a picture that had been started by her mother’s teacher. I loved the idea. Everybody had to paint a bit as a gift to her mother, no matter how good or bad at it they were.Here you can see the final product:
And what I loved the most about it was the metaphor… everybody needed to paint for the picture to be concluded. Does it ring a bell? The teacher had started the picture, but then, everybody followed their own path. I’m very happy because this resembles what  happens in my classroom. My students are the ones that come material heavy to my classes. They are the ones that are painting the picture in whatever way they like. I’m just their assistant. I’m there for whatever they need, but they are the ones who give the orders. We can all paint, and all of us should paint!

Posted on November 3, 2010, in Reflections on Tefl/tesl and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 24 Comments.

  1. What a beautiful post! Thanks for sharing! I think all our students should come materials heavy! This is what I feel learning should look like everyday. Our students bring in their experiences, make connections to new knowledge, and engage others. This is how language works in the real world.

    • Thanks Shelly for your nice words. You are right, we should try to bring into the classroom, what happens outside in real life.

  2. Wow! I love this so much Sabrina. I can’t tell you how many times over the years, I carried in a guardian article (do they still do the ones that are like lesson plans?) and then realized I didn’t need it after all!

    I absolutely love reading how your lesson unfolded and how autonomous your students were becoming so thank you so very much for sharing it!


    • Yes, Karenne I’ve brought just one of those ready-made lessons from The Guardian weekly. I have to admit I’ve come up with something better jajaja. Thanks for having set all those wonderful challenges, I’m having a lot of fun trying to answer them!

  3. This article would make a wonderful lesson to present to a new class to show them what you want them to get out of their class with you. We are all a part of the picture so our contributions should be shown and celebrated.

  4. I loved the article, through your words I could almost see your eyes moist with tears for the pride that you feel for your students. I’m pretty sure that you motivate them so much, and give them so much freedom, and that’s the reason why they do that kind of things.
    Please, please, keep spreading your pasion for teaching as you’re doing, always!

    • Thank you so much for passing by and a big thank you for those kind words. I’m just trying to do my best and I think it shows that I love what I’m doing. It makes me so happy when things work out well in my classes. Though I have to admit, that’s not always the case jejej.

  5. A beautiful piece.What’s great is that beyond the lesson itself you’re setting a precedent for people to share their stories,their lives.Meanwhile your role in allowing this,while helping them build on their existing language-assisting in every way-is very clear.

    • Luke thanks for passing by and for your kind words. It means a lot to me really. I hope we can continue learning from each other. See you in twitter.

  6. Hi Sabrina, I can only echo the thoughts of the others, it is a beautiful story, told beautifully.

  7. I finally found this via the Blog Carnival and am really glad I did; what an inspirational read.

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