Walking An Extra Mile – Why Should I Want to Do It Alone?

Having embarked on the teaching of English in the public sector, little did I know how many hours would take my students to walk an extra mile! You must be thinking that a mile is a mile. Indeed, yet not many students have the knack for measuring it properly.

Forgive me my fellow mathematicians but a mile does not seem to represent the same distance to learners. Much to the contrary, a mile will last as many hours to some as fewer hours to others. That is to say, learners who are more organised and disciplined towards their ‘miles’ will succeed more often than not.

I was amazed to learn that homework is a sort of ‘so-what’ word and this has been haunting me since then. I have engaged myself into doing some research on the subject and have come to the conclusion that such an issue goes beyond the academic issues a teacher may face within the educational environment. As my quest shows me that I still have some substantial ground to cover, I decided to share some aspects I have found out so far.

As a novice teacher in the State School System, I reckon that Homework is a big issue and Learner Training seems to be a rule of the thumb. Further down below, I will discuss some simple yet practical ideas I have been trying to implement with my learners at a State School.

  • Focus. That is a great departure point. Doing homework requires concentration and studying alone may give way to the butt-ins of the home environment. I tell my teen-learners to pretend they are at work, consequently, they should show their family what the meaning of ‘no trespassing’ on their bedroom door means. Privacy, most of them would marvel at that, right! At least, it is for a good cause, one might think.
  • Old habits die hard, new ones live longer. Coming up with a study plan in which you have your schedule respected will facilitate how fast you can walk your extra mile. Once this routine requirement is met, a learner will appreciate how much can be covered in less time without losing sight of quality. Trust me, been there, done that.
  • It’s only homework, but I should like it. I try and make sure that my learners enjoy what they are doing, above all, do what they enjoy doing. Studying can be boring to tears for most; however, it does not mean that you have to be marooned in your study-room. A healthy body leads to healthy mind and vice and versa. I tell them they have a life too, hence, sports, hanging out with friends or even lazing around the house could well be a good way of balancing mental and physical efforts.
  • It is (not) my place. Bearing in mind that walking your extra mile will be your working environment, it is fundamental that you choose a place in which you can have the ‘all-I-need’ items to assist your either long or short mile. It is extremely easy to get affected by external factors, so your studying environment should maximise rather than minimise your time.
  • Diversify to unify. Books tend to send us to a grey environment in order to improve our grey matter. By the same token, we are now bombarded by information on VLEs. The hardest part is to transform this abundant information into knowledge. However, such diversity can certainly add variety to the way students grapple with the learning process.

In conclusion, the ideas may sound a wee clichéd, yet I have been asked to search for alternatives so that I can best assist my learners in this process. I am sure this is just a small step for more experienced educators. On the other hand, it is proving to be a huge leap for the students in this environment they find themselves. So far, so good? Well, yes! Though, it is a long way to Tipperary.

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Adriano Zanetti

Adriano Zanetti – BA in Letras, Post-graduate in Language Teaching Methodologies, RSA Dip. DELTA. An educator for 30 years, an ELT consultant/teacher trainer at A2Z English Consultancy, a teacher/trainer/coordinator at FISK São João del Rei and Cambridge Assessment English Speaking Examiner. A Pronunciation SIG member responsible for Pronunciation courses for teachers/students. Presented several times in LABCI/ABCI conferences, Braz-Tesol Regional/National Chapters and different institutions in MG. /

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