Walk a mile in my shoes!

Whether you call it Teachers’ Day or National Education Day, it is true that this is when teachers celebrate their work. It takes different forms in our schools, some students remember, some don’t. Instead of just waiting for wellwishers, why don’t you devote one of your classes to this day. Below are three ideas for foreign language lessons and/or period forms during which you will let students step into your shoes, if only for a short while.

Dr Martens, or strutting your stuff

The first idea is for a language lesson with students preparing for the matura (final) exam. Involve your students in preparing  a set for an oral exam, in which all tasks will be designed with a teacher and his work in mind, e.g.:

Warm-up questions : How much time do you spend checking tests? What do you like about your job?

Role play: a conversation during which a Polish  teacher talks to his English-speaking colleague about his work, educational system, a difficult examination session, or the way  the Teachers’  Day is celebrated in his school.

Picture description and three questions: prepare a picture showing a teacher during a lesson or sitting at his desk at home; ask him to interpret, express an opinion and recall a past event (e.g. Tell us about your first day at work, your first lesson, a time when you had a great/terrible lesson).

Conversation based on visual stimuli; three pictures showing, for example, different types of classrooms for the teacher to choose from, a list of questions about his work, his own and his students’ motivation, the right to strike, etc.

You know your students and you know best if they need examples such as

the ones above, or if they can come up with their own. At least some of the work can be done as a flipped lesson (like selecting photos) and the rest in class. You can also divide tasks among students so that one group will prepare, for example, a picture with 3 questions, and another one will concentrate on role playing. Of course, the final task will involve students playing the role of a teacher both taking and administering the exam. 

High heels, or well-grounded arguments

The second idea can be used both during a foreign language lesson and  a form period. Look for quotes from literature, films or popular culture about teachers’ work, their duties and rights. Make sure quotes reflect a variety of opinions; it is up to us how controversial they will be. Divide students into groups, and give each of them a list of such quotes accompanied by a list of expressions for expressing opinions which they will have to use. Remind students about the rules of polite discourse even if they strongly disagree with each other. At the end of the lesson, ask different groups to share the views which sparked the most heated debate with the whole class.

Patent leather versus wellingtons, or take a closer look!

In the third exercise, not only will students put on our shoes, you will  end up in theirs. This idea is suitable for both a language lesson or a form period.

If your students are not familiar with the iceberg model, show it to them and explain what appears at its tip and what can be found below the surface.

Students work in groups whose task is to prepare a model of two icebergs;  one about the teacher and the other one about the student. What can you see above the waterline on a daily basis? What do students notice about their teachers, and vice versa? What can be hidden beneath the surface? In a language class, it will create an opportunity for intense vocabulary work. Ask groups to present their models, compare them and complete them with the ideas they have not thought about previously. They will have no choice but to reflect on our work and you will gain a new insight into your students.

Whether this topic comes up in your class or not (and in what form), remember, Dear Teachers, that it might do you good to occasionally take off your shoes and socks and step onto cool grass, hot sand, or simply the rug by your bed. Go ahead and do something for yourself on Teachers’ Day!

Feel the wind between your toes!


Author: Ewa Torebko

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