Wednesday Evening - ESOL class at a local library in Burlington, Vermont, USA.
Today I arrived in the old annexe room to find a nice new whiteboard in place of the shoddy old thing that was all scratched to pieces and the size of a postage stamp. It was almost too large to fit into the corner where the old one precariously perched on its ailing metal legs. I am both delighted and horrified. Whilst doing my CELTA qualification, my ‘whiteboard management’ was always on my list of action points. I could never seem to stick to my plan, and the carefully considered use of different coloured markers was beyond me. My whiteboard, plain and simple was messy. So when I began teaching at the library I was filled with unusual joy to see their paltry version of a whiteboard and had breathed a sigh of relief that my weakness would not be exposed. Now the large, snowy white, smooth as silk whiteboard blinds me with its newness. Filled slightly with dread, I ponder what to do, what to do?
I had planned to do a lesson on what was needed if my students were stranded on a desert island. You know the type of thing, what luxuries you would like, what essentials you would need. Lots of group work to come to a consensus. I decided to draw a desert island tableau on my virgin board. Now, let me explain that drawing is up there with my whiteboard management - pretty bad. I cannot draw and have never been able to draw. So I set about practicing some palm trees, and seagulls, some blue sea and a sun on some scrap paper. After 10 minutes I realised that I could do my nice new whiteboard justice and I drew a rather fetching rendition of the bog standard desert island scene.
When my students arrived, I excitedly drew their attention to the new acquisition and then started to elicit the names of the items I had drawn. Palm trees, sea, seagulls and sun were all correctly identified. I was delighted, not with their vocabulary knowledge, which I knew was pretty advanced, but with my drawings being recognized and identified for what they were. Maybe this was the start of a beautiful relationship with my new whiteboard, and next week I could begin to do some neat and tidy, colour coordinated written work as well.
So what luxuries did the students wish to take with them to this perfectly realised desert island? There was a huge push for liquor of any kind, though Baileys Irish Cream and Heineken beer seemed to be the most popular. Ice cream was another favourite. And one young man felt that without marijuana and Playboy, he simply would not be able to survive. After much hilarity and teasing, this led to our oldest student, a Russian lady who is the strict but nurturing grandmother of the group, saying the most perfectly pronounced English word that I have ever heard her say. And the word? Playboy. I don’t know how useful this word will be to her here in the USA, but I couldn’t help but praise her flawless pronunciation.