Tuesday, July 10, 2012


The Guild web series
A lot of the traditional teaching methods in Kuwait and South Korea revolve around the students sitting alone at their desk and facing the chalk or Smart board as a teacher lectures. I was guilty of this when working in Incheon, South Korea, because I had no teacher training. I knew it wasn't the best approach, but I didn't know how to adapt my teaching.

Since moving to Kuwait, I've noticed that my students have a lot of trouble working in groups. They have little prior experience with group work and they have rarely been held accountable for their own learning. I struggled with group work this year. It drained me trying to keep them on task. I had many failures, but many successes too. My grade 9s initially struggled when practicing their Shakespeare scenes, but with diligence from the ESL support teacher and myself the final products were very good.

This upcoming year I want to put more of a focus on group work. I think kids teaching each other is a fantastic way to solidify content, especially for students who are ESL and don't always understand the conversations in the class. To that effect I plan on weaving the groups into the class narrative through the guild moniker.

The guilds in my classroom will be organized first according the stream (I have academic students and applied students - an Ontario distinction) and second according to personality. Obviously some of the students will be moved around throughout the year as issues crop up, but I will try and keep the guilds intact as long as I can.  The notion of having them working for a specific guild gives each member a sense of community and cooperation from the outset, and it will fuel their desire to compete against other guilds.

In the guild format, group participation and accountability will be promoted throughout the year. I want the students to enjoy learning in that environment and I want them to see the benefits. One of the ways I plan on doing this is by having students create things like flags/symbols for their guild and having a point system that encourages them to help each other. I have a lot more planned, and a lot more I'm still planning, but I think that focusing on group work conventions from the get-go will help set the stage for the year.  

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