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The challenges of a secondary school teacher in large heterogeneous groups.docx

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TEACHING IN LARGE HETEROGENEOUS GROUPS: AN OBSTACLE OR AN EVERYDAY REALITY FOR THE ENGLISH TEACHER? Teachers are always on the stage, they direct conversation and set the pace and tone, they plant the seeds and then watch them grow, they are the best actors, orchestral conductors and gardeners; there are many metaphors to describe what a teacher is and everyone knows that is not an easy job. A teacher must have certain qualities, be on “training” all the time, deal with different kin
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  TEACHING IN LARGE HETEROGENEOUS GROUPS: AN OBSTACLE OR AN EVERYDAY REALITY FOR THE ENGLISH TEACHER? Teachers are always on the stage, they direct conversation and set the pace and tone, they plant the seeds and then watch them grow, they are the best actors, orchestral conductors and gardeners; there are many metaphors to describe what a teacher is and everyone knows that is not an easy job. A teacher must have certain qualities, be on “training” all the time, deal with different kinds of personalities at the same time, face a lot of obstacles, etc. As well, the teacher has many challenges that he must pass through, one of the most important challenges is teaching in large heterogeneous groups.  As teachers we’re always under the glass, because our wor  k is supervised and reviewed for many characters: the corresponded authorities, the parents, the society as such and the students themselves. Without going too far we will start talking about the education and teachers here in Mexico, which are criticize most of the time and we’re always being compared with other countries. What no one takes in count is the fact that we don’t have the proper conditions to be compared as we currently are. Nowadays a teacher must prepare his class knowing that he will be teacher from 36 to 45 students, proximately, which makes our work harder. If we want to be more specific, an English teacher faces another challenge besides the number of students, but the level of knowledge that every student have. As we know, not all our students have the same level and yet, we have to make our classes appropriate according to the syllabus and according to the differences in every kind of students. To aboard with this marvelous topic, we will start by explaining from the very beginning, talking about what is teacher, what is the teacher itself and the obstacles he must face. The process of education occurs in thousands of classrooms in most countries and as we know teaching is many different things, it can mean instructing, explaining, tel ling, however, very little can be “taught” in this way. Teaching is waiting, ye t there is also a time fraction, that’s what Earl V. Pullias and  James D. explain to us in their work “what is teaching”, while Jeremy Harmer does mention to the official definition, which is according to the Cambridge International Dictionary of English, teaching means “to give (someone)” knowledge of to instruct or train (someone), whereas the Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English suggests that it means to “show somebody h ow to do something or to change somebody’s ideas”. The fact is that we will find many different opinions about what teaching is, there will always be definitions where we can agree and other where we may not. But I think teaching is not exactly something that we must describe, because everyone has different perspectives about what it is, and that doesn’t mean that someone is wrong, is just that everyone can look at it in a different way. What it is for sure is that teaching is a science and an art and everyone who has experience being the one who teach will know for sure that whatever it is, who has vocation to do it, will find it very exciting and quite amusing.  And that’s how we can begin describing our main character in this piece of work: The English Teacher. An English teacher is someone who must possessed many qualities, not everything is about the knowledge that they have, although it is also important, an English teacher must have a dynamic personality and open mind, they must encourage the interaction with other subjects and cultural activities related with the English class, he must have an artistic, cultural, literary knowledge about the different countries that speak English with special attention to the art, the geography, the institutions and general history, so students can have a wide cultural vision. The English teacher must be willing to keep learning about didactics, different approaches, bibliography, courses about perfectionism, etc. The teacher is capable of understand and express orally and writing any text or linguistic content that refers to everyday life and has a wide knowledge about grammar, vocabulary and pronunciation, have a good psycho-pedagogic formation. Another thing that he must know is about the evaluation techniques, the use of audiovisual media and knows the environment in which he is developing his function and many other things that are important as well.   As we have mentioned, the teacher must have a lot of qualities and knowledge about many things, but his work do esn’t end here, in fact it just begins, because now he must apply everything he knows inside of the classroom, that’s where the real challenge begins. In the classroom, the teacher has different roles depending on the different situations that may happen. Within the classroom the role of the teacher can change from one activity to another or from one stage of an activity to another. The English teacher must be a facilitator, controller, organizer, prompter, participant, assessor, resource, tutor and observer. But we can focus specially in the teacher as performer, when we know that different teachers act differently and that individual teachers vary their behavior, depending upon what they are doing; this gives us insights into classroom behavior. Every teacher is different, but they have the same principles and they always act according to the learners. We know that the teacher have many obstacles such as cynicism, narrowness, confusion, false ideas about people, disorder, dead knowledge, poor imagination, routine, way of working, tiredness and illness. Many people see large heterogeneous classes as a big obstacle to teaching, even though it is not mentioned in our list, we must say that it is one of the difficulties that every teacher has to deal with. Specially, because we are well aware that learners are always different. If we could only begin to describe learners, we could start by the fact that every one of them is different. Starting by the fact that age is one of the most important factors to take in count; they have different necessities and respond in a different way according to the environment where they are learning. A good teacher always takes this in consideration, knowing that they have different learner styles. We have students that are convergers, conformists, concrete learners or communicative learners and the teacher must be prepared to teach each one of them.  Another thing that is important to point at is the fact that whenever we are in a classroom we find that all our students have different language levels, we may have advanced students, upper intermediate, mid-intermediate, lower intermediate  or some of them that will only have an elementary level or and absolutely beginner.  And one of the biggest problems is that they mean different things to different people. What one school or education system calls advanced may be more like intermediate to some other teachers. We must face the fact that we have different types of students, that they all likes to do different activities, they are good at different things and the most important; they learn best by different methods or strategies. Finally, we must face the fact that this is not an easy thing to deal with, it is quite different to keep everyone satisfied and although is not an impossible task, it is one of the things that will keep our time busy, cause the successful of our classes, must be related to our time dedicated to create appropriate lesson plans according to our very special and different students.
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