Friday, May 23, 2014

Learner autonomy?!?

                       The Mama bear teacher

For a couple of days now I have been wondering about my dedication to the job regarding how much I, should I say facilitate (?), my students' learning. I have come to terms with the fact that, yes, I am a spoon feeder (not in the evil spoon feeder way though, don't get me wrong). I often consider myself a mama bear teacher who in an attempt to help my learners, ends up making them over reliant! I am talking about simple things, things they should be doing on their own but in the end, I am the one doing these things for them. Where is the line between helping your learners and nipping learner autonomy in the bud?
Here is my list of sins. If you find yourself ticking the same boxes as me, join the club fellow mama bear teacher!

  •   My students (young or older) continually come to class without pencils, erasers, notebooks. My solution: I go buy pencils, notebooks and erasers and give them to them.
  • I schedule extra lessons with my learners. I tell them 100 times. I even ask them CCQs (: P) but what do I do in the end? I text message them a reminder a few minutes before the session.
  •   My EAP students have difficulty finding sources for their research projects. My normal teaching method: Show them how to search the Uni library/show them how to search Google scholar, muse etc. My learners are still frustrated (?!) My solution: I look for books myself, in my own time, and give them some titles.
  •   My Business English students: I suggest reading an article and talking about it together. “Time to talk about your interests”, I say. " Read something you like and send it to me" But only rarely do they send me something. My solution: I ask them,” what are you interested in?” They tell me. I find the articles and send them to them.
  •   Project time for my young learners. They have decided on what they want to write about. They write it. They bring it to class. Sometimes their work is incomplete though. They haven’t found pictures to accompany their texts. My solution:  I find the pictures for them.              
Am I actually helping my learners or am I cutting their wings, making them over reliant? Is this part of the job or have I turned into a control freak teacher? If you ask me, it is part of the job. But is it?When does caring turn to overbearing?
I love my job. Sometimes I think I even do it well, but I do wonder, "When do I draw a line and let my students be? Am I supposed to be a mama bear teacher?"
Tell me what you think!
Self made pic. Meet the mama bear teacher.


Till next time.......


                               

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