An international group of teachers participated in Sunday’s #KELTchat, exploring what it means to ask our students to demand more of themselves. The chat began with the question, “What does demand high learning look like?” Participants determined that it is individualist encouraging students to push their own limits and not be satisfied with a correct answer or a high TOEIC score. It is autonomous, and the role of the teacher is motivational as well as helping students determine the gaps that need to be filled. It is not exactly the same as demand high teaching.
Demand high as a tool:
#KELTchatters discussed the value of demand high teaching as a tool that lets go of preparation and expectation on the teachers’ part, so that the teacher can respond to the moment. A teacher’s expectation of what students can achieve is limiting and teachers do well to be flexible about their preparations for class, willing to give over at the moment of learning, quoting @jimscriv: “Go where the learning is. Deviate from that lesson plan.” One participant pointed out that the demand would be on the teachers, but the students do all the hard work. Demand high teaching and learning cannot exist without intimate knowledge of the context and the students.
Bridging the gap:
Another question that arose is how to bridge the gap between the students and their goals? Suggestions included input, not demanding high (in terms of accuracy), and demanding high when the situation emerges. This led to the question of fluency and accuracy, with chatters debating whether it is appropriate to demand high in terms of either or both, deciding that it depends on the context, the age and level of the learners. Is there value in repetition? Is there value in expecting students to apply strategies they’ve been taught? Several teachers commented that accuracy is given preeminence in their teaching contexts internationally (Korea, France, Indonesia) and that demand high is limited to exam preparation. These issues all had a place in the chat. One chatter commented that demand high is a tool and the fluency/ accuracy dichotomy need not be an issue.
The teacher’s role:
The chat turned to the question of the teacher’s role in helping students “demand high” of themselves. Chatters suggested motivating students to push themselves, helping students explore the language conundrums they encounter when they encounter them, providing explicit feedback based on a belief that students can do better, and setting expectations for themselves in order to give them focus.
The importance of context:
Context proved quite important in the chat. One chatter pointed out that different contexts necessitate different objectives. Another added that it also meant different opportunities to achieve the objectives. A chatter pointed out that age and level would impact the point at which one might demand high. One participant lamented the tendency in Korea to see CLT as a hoop to jump through. Another said that the place of CLT activities in Korea seem to be “fun” rather than “learning” and that focus on improvement may often be lost. A chatter wondered if demanding high might be a way of challenging the perception of CLT in Korea.
Helping students “demand high” of themselves:
What are some ways to help students to “demand high” of themselves? Responses ranged from suggestions: modeling that learning doesn’t follow a set path so that students will be free to be more exploratory; giving activities and tasks that provide an opening for demand high learning; helping students set individual goals (and find a way to assess whether they are achieved) to pessimism: one participant argued that there is no room for more demand on students in Korean public schools because test preparation is everything. Several teachers suggested helping students “demand high” of themselves so as to fill the gaps in their test preparation and that a change of learning goals may not be necessary.
Final thoughts from chatters:
@michaelegriffin: Final thoughts: Don’t be satisfied with just smiles and communication. Students are capable of more and need to be helped see it.
@annehendler: Final thoughts: Giving students tasks that help them get to know themselves and point out their strengths and weaknesses can help.
@Penultimate_K: Key phrase that sticks with me is @jimscriv ‘s ‘Go where the learning is’ That and ‘prep vs plan’
@bryanteacher: As a movement, is “demand high” appropriate for Korea? It seems to address a problem in CLT. But lack of CLT is problem in Korea. → @michaelegriffin: Well said, BUT I also think there’s a distinct lack of any demand of or belief in SS as well.
@breathyvowel suggested that it might be individualistic, encouraging students to push their own limits. @michaelegriffin contributed the definition that “Ss not just being satisfied with a correct answer or a high TOEIC score but pushing themselves.”
Shared links and things:
@bryanteacher shared some videos where he learned what “demand high” is all about.
“My memory of Scrivener+Underhill vids: demand high about not just letting ur communicative lesson plan trundle along. Be proactive.”
@trent_mcintosh shared this article from the Guardian: http://www.theguardian.com/education/2012/oct/16/demand-high-teaching-challenge-students?CMP=twt_gu
@Penultimate_K shared the #AusELT demand high teaching chat summary: http://auselt.com/2013/03/08/demand-high-elt-chat-summary-7-march-2013/
@yitzha_sarwono wise words: “We have to give them the view that there’s no limit to English, I mean twerk & selfie just made to the dictionary!”