Join me at IATEFL 2016 (on Saturday 16th April, from 11:10 to 11:40 am, in Hall 11b), where I will be giving a talk titled “The best improvisation is prepared improvisation“.
The teacher’s improvisation in class is gradually becoming a recognised element of ELT. However, it has not been uncommon for classroom improvisation to be frowned upon by directors of studies, teacher trainers, and ELT methodologists, as diverting from the plan often means not realising the aims set out for the lesson. More recently, improvisation in class has been appreciated, and even encouraged, mainly by the practitioners of Dogme and Demand High. Improvisation has been described (by Adrian Underhill) as the “dark matter” of teaching, as elements of it occur in every lesson, and yet the phenomenon remains unnoticed and unexplored.
In this talk I will analyse what it is that makes each lesson unique, and why it is that no two sessions are ever alike, even if they are conducted according to the same lesson plan. I will consider the pros and cons of classroom improvisation.
My proposition is that teachers need to consciously build up their repertoires of classroom routines by noticing and interacting with what happens during their lessons. Teachers ought to reflect on these routines, and re-use them in a fresh and playful way, so as to ensure that their repertoires continue to evolve.
I will share some tried and tested tips for classroom interaction, addressed to those teachers who are anxious to divert from their lesson plan and perceive their teaching materials as a “safety blanket”, as well as to those who are not afraid to improvise and seek further inspiration.