27. Today I lost it

Today I lost it. Almost.

As I went into the classroom (class 9), many of the students greeted me lazily. Few of them were still doing the work of their previous class. Few were still talking with each other.

I usually treat the students as friends but also maintain a distance. I have experienced how students tend to dance on your head when you pamper them, be friendly with them. But I never punish them, that is not what I am there for. But sometimes, that urge to retaliate is pretty strong.

So I asked this student why he looked tired and lazy. It was just the second period of the day. “ Didn’t you have bhaat this morning?” He said no, in a tone that echoed slight defiance. A bit startled by his tone. “So, you’re hungry?” He said yes. That tone worried me. It is that tone when you know the student is trying to be over-smart. It is that tone when you know the student is challenging your presence in the class and is trying poke on your patience.

My first instinct was to grab the duster and hurl it at him, break his nose and let his taste his own blood. Deep down inside, every human being has that crude instinct. A teacher or not. But then, I tightened my jaws, swallowed a big chunk of air and heard myself exhale that air.

Then asked him, calmly, “May I call your parents and tell them that you’ve come to the school without taking lunch, and would they be so kind enough to bring you your khaajaa as soon as possible?”

He said no. Less cheekily. I insisted. He said no sir, now with his arrogance gone, sensing that I was not letting the incident go that easily.

Yes, I reacted badly. I could have / should have handled it better, in a different way. But, may be I didn’t want to.


“When we bring the concept to the classroom, scaffolding means that teachers should not “spoon-feed” their students, but rather give them just what is necessary for the student to reach the desired communication (by the student) effectively, on his/her own. “

Box of Chocolates

This post is my response to the Dogme Blog Challenge #3 (“The Scaffolding”) proposed by Karenne Sylvester. You can read my previous Dogme Challenge posts here (for #1) or here (for #2). Here’s the quote for this week’s challenge:


“The teacher’s primary function, apart from promoting the kind of classroom dynamic conducive to a dialogic and emergent pedagogy, is to optimize language learning affordances, by directing attention to features of the emergent language; learning can be mediated through talk, especially talk that is shaped and supported (i.e. scaffolded) by the teacher. “

~ Luke Meddings & Scott Thornbury, Teaching Unplugged, Delta Teacher Development Series, 2009.

The term “scaffolding” was first used refering to learning by a cognitive psychologist, Jerome Bruner, in the 50’s. He used it to describe how children learn and develop language with the help of their parents. How parents naturally help children find the ways…

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Read or not to read… aloud !



As I prepare for my upcoming Braz-TESOL presentation entitled Activating the Receptive Skills – Beliefs and Practice Versus Current Research (together with my colleague Marta Rezende), I wonder why round-the-class reading has stood the test of time, regardless of all the recommendations against it. Recently, in a talk about teaching reading, I brought up the reading aloud issue, my pet peeve, and presented all the arguments against it, mine and many specialists’. At the end of the session, a teacher approached me and said, “But my students like it so much!” This comment reminded me of one of my favorite blog posts by Ken Wilson (2010), particularly a part when he says:

If a teacher says ‘My students really enjoy X’, you can usually interpret this as ‘I like X, and I ask my students to do it a lot’. Which CAN be a good thing. But not with…

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24. Once OK?

Once OK?

Used by: primary level students
Meaning: When a student can not say/describe something in English, this is the expression they use, asking for permission to speak in Nepal, just for that one particular time.

Teacher: Where’s your homework?
Student: Once OK?
Teacher: Yes.
Student: mero dai le copy nai haraai diyo.
Teacher: Telling lies again.
Student: No no. I tell true.