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honoria in ciberspazio

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Bored Adult Students
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I typed "dealing with bored adult students" into Google and found an ESL teaching message board with the same question posted by a new instructor at http://forums.eslcafe.com/job/viewtopic.php?p=606274

Some advice from the board:

-- Split the class into teams and have them work on projects together. I did that last night and gave the teams complete autonomy to choose a leader who guided the students through an exercise in the book.

-- Make teams with similar levels of abilities. I'm going to try to make a team with ALL the bored students together and see what happens.

-- Speak softly and they will pay more attention. I'm going to try that.

-- Get agreement that objectives of the class match the students' objectives. I'm devising a mid-term review question on this one for the students to answer. That may provide insights.

-- Take care of yourself and let them follow or not, they are adults.

One situation I had yesterday is that in a 30 minute drawing some students just stopped drawing and stared blankly at the wall or longingly at the door. Some asked if they can wash the charcoal off their hands. I will not say anything during the timed drawings because the goal of each exercise is to work on the non-verbal right side of the brain and most of the students are quietly working. Students can talk in the first lecture/discussion hour of class and between drawings but not during the timed drawing exercise. I could say if they aren't drawing in a drawing class they are going to be counted as not there in terms of the registrar but that seems juvenile. It's amazing to me that students are in a drawing class and don't draw.

My main priority is for the working students not to be interrupted while they are in the creative state of actively drawing so I have to set a rule. I think it will be this.

I will provide wet towels at each table. Students who stop drawing can wipe their hands and start reading the next chapter of the book and not disturb the students who are working by exiting to "hand wash" and chat in the hall. Students not drawing during drawing times will be caught without work at mid-term and they may perk up when they see how tough I grade.

One thing that worked quite well.
Students did a negative space drawing of the rib cage of our skeleton. I love that skeleton. Some of the ribcage drawings were very stylized and cartoony and some were observed and more realistic. I had the students hold up their own drawing, show them to each other, and figure out how to place their drawing on a long table in order from the most stylized/symbol system drawing to the most realistic. They had to do some evaluation and were engaged figuring out the order. Then they could see and talk about how their own work represented the way the left and right side of the brain processed visual information.

So now I have a game plan that is simple and relaxing. I'm not going to stress over bored students and I'm not going to let them disrupt the students who want to learn to draw. They will sit there quietly and read until each timed drawing is over.