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Posted: Mon May 12, 2008 6:20 pm
by iain
In one of our regular workshops the following theme emerged. "Can you have good lessons with a teacher you don't like?" This lead on to the connected question "Can you learn well with a teacher you don't like?"
Most people reflected on personal experiences from their own schooldays and there was the fairly frequent and familiar recollection along the lines of "he/she was a mean old ...... but they were a good teacher."
How do people feel about this as regards adult-to-adult situations in the language classroom?

Posted: Mon May 12, 2008 10:42 pm
by Macavity
The problem that I have faced is that when adult students haven't liked me they have sometimes tried to get other students to follow suit. This can be very disruptive and, on occasion, I have been more or less left with no other option than to ask them to leave . I don't feel the need to be liked by all of my students, although I think most of them do like me, but I want to be able to teach as many of them as I can. I quite often don't like this or that student, for whatever reason (human nature I suppose), however, I try to put this to one side and get on with the job in hand. If the students who don't like me aren't able to do this, even after I've done all that I can to try to help them overcome this block, they have, at some point, to leave the course. Recently I had the experience of having to abandon a group which had gradually set themselves against me. I spoke to my director of studies about the problem and arranged a new teacher for them. On the day that I handed over to the new teacher it was quite stressful, but I think part of our job is being able to see where we are failing and putting the needs of the students first. Or was I just a coward taking the easy way out? Perhaps :(

Posted: Tue May 13, 2008 5:13 pm
by Sally Olsen
Congratulations, if that is the right word for caring about your students more than you cared about yourself. I have never in all my years heard of this happening. Most teachers have hung on until the students were able to drive them mad so they had a medical reason for leaving.

I always expect about 1/3 of the students will be less than enchanted with my teaching but as you say, try my best to do what I can to answer their needs. However, they decide in the first 15 seconds whether they are going to like you or not and it takes 15 hours or more to change their minds, at least according to some research I have seen.

For some reason, probably because I was one of those students, I like the rebels the best though and it is the perfect students who I have the most trouble with.


Posted: Tue May 13, 2008 11:34 pm
by mcb859
This is kind of the problem I'm having this week at my school in South Korea. I feel like this student doesn't like me. He's Korean, in his mid twenties, and just does the minimum work possible in response to each exercise. I think he's giving me some of the attitude just because I'm a woman, but who knows. He speaks very little and is a little snappish with me, so it makes me dread coming in to teach in the morning. I'm working at a new school & have very few students. In this 7am block, he's sometimes the only student. I'm supposed to be conducting "conversation" classes and have only a beginner level book which the students(totalling maybe 5-6 over the course of a day) have cruised through in two weeks. The other English conversation classes here are taught in Korean. Anyway, please feel free to advise or commiserate! Thank you!

difficult situation

Posted: Wed May 14, 2008 2:06 am
by shaodantracy
I am not a teacher yet, but i will be a teacher in one year. As an adult student now, I can understand those students who can't learn well under a teacer they don't like. Now, when I have a class which is very boring and the teacher cannot control the class or use some fresh methods to teach us, I feel very bored, thus I will do other things on the class or even worse, some students will talk on the class, so I think a teacher's ability to manage the class and his or her capability of creating fresh and exciting environment for the students to learn are very important. But, as a willbe teacher, I don't have any ideas about classroom management. I hope I can get some help from you. :)

Posted: Wed May 14, 2008 3:56 am
by woodcutter
If you are teaching lessons in a regular kids school, then you want them to respect you, rather than like you. If you are teaching to make money for somebody's business, more students more money, you can't easily afford to be stern. Some people are, but it is a very different kettle of fish form high school etc. Anyway, liking the teacher isn't that important for learning. However if you are running a class in a very communicative style - and you are generally supposed to be doing that - it sure helps the chat flow.

Posted: Wed May 14, 2008 4:26 pm
by Sally Olsen
Certainly we commiserate with you mcb859. If you are having to have conversation classes with this fellow, try to think of as many situations as possible where he has to explain things to you. I used to use card games and explain the rules but not very well so the student had to ask questions to really understand and play. You could bring in maps and get him to explain how to get to such and such a place and what is good to see along the way, or ask him to explain how to use your cellphone or computer or some equipment in the school. In other words, play the damsel in distress and see if he responds. Of course, you keep it professional but let him teach you and you will be teaching him at the same time as he has to explain it in English.

Posted: Wed May 14, 2008 8:17 pm
by Macavity
Sally wrotre:

Congratulations, if that is the right word for caring about your students more than you cared about yourself. I have never in all my years heard of this happening. Most teachers have hung on until the students were able to drive them mad so they had a medical reason for leaving.

I didn't have a medical reason for leaving and I'm sure that Napoleon will be a much better teacher for them than I, Claudius , ever was :lol:


Posted: Sun Oct 19, 2008 2:40 pm
by Rp
This has driven some very interesting discussion. I, too, teach adults. I have always worked under the model that we have 3 types of learners. Prisoners [ I have to be here ], vacationers [ here is better than there ] and learners [ I want and need to learn ].

All categories have their own "needs". Sometimes their needs conflict with ours [ which is to say the contracted programme ]. One could also say that culture plays an important role, however you could spend hours on that subject alone.

Suffice to say, recognising a "needs" conflict and making appropriate adjustments tells me you put your students first....and really, shouldn't we all.

Posted: Fri Jan 16, 2009 12:16 pm
by Králík
I think people generally like me as a person, and appreciate when I make an ass out of myself in order to explain something, if anyone doesn't like me it will be because of some occasions where I showed myself to be completely incompetent in explaing some grammar point.. or worse still.. didn't understand it at all!

But that's just because this is my first year of teaching. I'm sure that part of it will be better in the future.

I do want my students to like me, but I don't try to make them like me, not consciously anyway.

Quite often when i first started teaching I thought students didn't like me.. but it was idiotic of me because they simply didn't understand what I was saying and I needed to slow down and stop using so many polite conditionals all the time. " If you would maybe like to move over there by Mirek is that okay? "

I have some students who seem to roll their eyes an awful lot.. But I think they're more annoyed at me for teaching the entire class and not catering to their individual needs. So if I spend too long explaining something one person finds easy, that person is annoyed at me, and why should I care.. I'm teaching them.. I want to be a good teacher.. I want people to learn and if they say something about me I want it to be "You should do her class, you'll learn a lot with her"
not "She's really cool"

That is for some classes.. for others...

I teach a few teenagers at a high level, and sometimes they just are not in the mood to work, and I tell them they can talk about whatever they want as long as they speak in English, otherwise they will be miserable and the class will be no fun for any of us. I don't want it to be an extension of school for them I want it to be fun, they're not an exam class yet so I don't see why not.
I think they're my favorite class when they're in a good mood, they always make me laugh.