A glimpse of High School graduates’ perspectives #futuregradsmooc

Upon asking for a volunteer from the current class I’m teaching at college, to conduct an interview on the experience of high school, a female student came forward and had some time to spare to do this interview. I found at first glance that only motivated student could apply for something that is out-of-class!

I asked her the following questions:

  1. Since it’s been a year since you were at high school. Do you have good memories of it, why or why not?
  2. What do you think the purpose of high school is/was?
  3. What are 1 or 2 skills that you think you acquired from college
  4. What are 1 or 2 skills t you think you realized that you need now at college?

Upon interacting with here it became clear that she was motivated to study for a “high grade” because her parents persisted that to ensure a bright future for her, she needs to score high to good a good job and a good future. Additionally she believed that school taught her many skills like teamwork, presentation skills, and “studying hard” as a virtue important at that stage. Upon coming to college she realizes that being in mixed classes, she thought that school can never make her ready, say, to work with men (if she finds a job after school), or to study with boys, since she is at college. She feels always shy to speak or present in front of the opposite gender, particularly. But she thinks, upon spending a semester at college, she feels that she is overcoming that obstacle slowly but surely. She also found time to join student clubs and participate in volunteering activities at school and at her community as well. She still feels she needed to be good at basic computer skills; sending emails and studying online were not part of school preparations.

I’ve realized from this interview that, especially girls, who happen to be dominating at the private college I teach in, seem to be much more motivated to score higher at school, than boys, probably because a lot is at stake; her social status, not finding a job and thus staying at home, etc. I still need to further investigate this by talking with a male student for things to sort of clear out. That being said, for her, home has played a major role in setting attitudes towards future life and study while school helped her achieve the high scores she needed to move forward to the next stage. Not that schools helped her prepare for college life in terms of using computers and communicating and studying online, however, generally, she emphasizes that high school is for setting the foundations for a successful start into the future and realizes that though school seems to spoon feed students, it was a great place for her that helped her start jump her academic life at college.

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Teaching-for-skills approach for language teaching

As for learning any skill, I think teaching language requires continuous guidance and hand-holding along the way, up until they get it and can do it on their own.

I noticed that guiding students and carefully following up with them on every task is essential to their acquisition of linguistic skills. I think it should be what teachers do most in most of their class time.

In reading/writing, for instance, I make sure I demo note-taking for an article, then I move around to provide help where needed. I also keep an eye on good students and direct them to assist struggling students with the task at hand.

For listening/speaking, I go over what goes into listening for main ideas, then play a small portion of the audio track, then answer it so students can follow my lead. This also serves to support students with lower-linguistic abilities along the way.

I think this approach helps develop a sense of accountability in students, and a critical observation on their own learning–since they get the help and support they need along the way. It may also help reduce dependence on the teacher in the long run.