I strive to create a pleasant and inclusive classroom climate where everyone feels comfortable participating. Decentering the classroom from the teacher is key to this endeavor. I prioritize a student-centered space with peer interaction, debates, and activities that promote active learning over lecturing. I also encourage peer-corrective feedback which, in turn, strengthens the horizontal dynamic in the class.
The plasticity of the lesson is paramount to this endeavor. I make constant adjustments to address individual student needs within a classroom comprising a diverse student body. While I plan out enough material and design transitions, I also leave room for adjustments. Whenever I sense waning attention or interest, I adapt the lesson to revive the student’s focus. I believe that flexibility in both form and content is crucial for maximizing students’ involvement in the lesson.
To cater to different learning styles and sustain interest, I incorporate a wide range of materials including textual, auditory, and visual resources. I prioritize authentic material that provide insights into the real culture of German-speaking countries. If I notice an area of common interest among the students, I will try to keep this in mind during the preparation of the class, to include relevant content. I also allow the students to explore their own preferences during the development of longer, year-long projects. Students have responded enthusiastically to project-based instruction, which not only strengthens the sense of community within the class, but also empowers them to take ownership of their learning.
I am very keen on including new technologies in (and outside of) the classroom. Quizlet, for instance, conveniently facilitates the vocabulary acquisition, ensuring smoother progress through the lessons. On the other end, tools like Kahoot can be used to check on the uptake of the lesson at the end of the week or of the previous lesson at the beginning of the day. To foster German language interaction beyond the classroom, I enjoy incorporating virtual exchanges (emails or photo exchanges) with students in a German-speaking country. This provides students with sustained contact with the culture while getting real, everyday German language interactions. The success of these projects can be seen in the fact that many students continued interacting with their German counterparts on social media beyond the end of the semester.
In my perspective, experimentation, along with flexibility, is an invaluable source of growth for both the teacher and the students. I intend on inviting the students to partake explicitly in their own learning process to motivate them. Indeed, learning and teaching are not individual processes: they are collaborative. I look forward to letting my experience in the classroom shape my teaching both in theory and practice.