March Paragraph Diary 6

Turn, turn, turn

No “diary”-style writing today. Instead, for today’s short paragraph post I’m reaching back into my files to share something vaguely related to ‘mentoring’, yesterday’s topic du jour.

I once contacted a handful of wonderful CELTA graduates with a simple question: do you remember anything I said? I mean, can you actually remember specific lines I uttered that stuck with you? This is what one wrote back (with permission to share): “The most memorable, “Matthew-like” feedback I remember getting was when you pointed out that “the pacing problems…cut off the cherry on top.” This was particularly effective, in my mind, for helping me focus on my opportunities in future lessons. Some other positive feedback you gave me was that “students ohhhed and aahhhed when you gave them such a visual handout.” Not only was this a more entertaining/interactive type of feedback, but it also got the point across very well, and made me feel good about the efficacy of my lesson. Also, I liked the “emoticons” (smileys) that you included in the written feedback. And I remember that another time, about a writing assignment, you said, “I want to teach that lesson myself!,” which was very encouraging feedback”.

Have you ever asked a student or student teacher if they can recall specific things you said in class? How much attention do you pay to…I don’t know what to call them…I think I’ve always called them “turning phrases”, which I suppose is an (odd?) variation on the idiomatic verb ‘to turn a phrase’ (wiki definition: to create a particular linguistic expression which is strikingly clear, appropriate, and memorable) and/or the noun ‘a turn of phrase’. I think my request for feedback from those CELTA grads had to do with a desire to better and more conscientiously focus on this.

…as I reflect on it here, I’m getting to thinking that perhaps it was my TESOL professor at Boston University Dr. Marnie Reed who got me looking harder at being very intentional and strategic with memorable “turning “/mnemonic phrases for teaching. See, for example, Step 3 of this:

Thanks for reading. 🙂


2 thoughts on “March Paragraph Diary 6

  1. You should have written this a couple of weeks ago! I emailed all of my previous CELTA trainees then to advertise my book, so I don’t think I can ask them this again now, but I’d love to! I’ll just have to wait until I want to share the next book… 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Once a year we invited alumni to come back for focus groups about the different courses in my programme. I’ve never asked about specific things I’ve said, but I always ask “What’s one thing you remember from my course?” This usually results in a particular skill though. I like your idea.


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