Opportunistic teaching

Opportunistic teaching

In modern teaching there is some amazing development that goes on and nowadays more and more teachers are interested in delivering individualized, engaging and memorable teaching practices which correspond to actual students` needs.

What is the idea of opportunistic teaching?

Opportunistic teaching  is a great skill which requires teachers to adapt their teaching strategy according to the learners` level of training, actual needs and current situation.

Beyond the doubts standards and programme are important. However, there is no right or wrong way to achieve profound understanding and successful practice in class. Sometimes we skip, come back and teach at a moment given.

Our profound, outstanding knowledge of the subject within experience makes us understand the anatomy of learning  and we get to know by heart the journey that we take our learners through when we teach. So, naturally we start feeling free to improvise and use or create opportunities to fill in the gaps in students`understanding. And very often these ‘unexpected moments’ become the ones that our students remember most.

How do skillful teachers feel and use such teachable opportunistic moments?

Be perceptive

Teachers who are perceptive can easily read their students and establish good relationships. In such environment it will be easy to identify or create relevant opportunities to teach and share information in a beautiful way so that  students will be sitting at the edge of their seats. Be aware of your students` current life events because you can get a proper preparation and teach by virtue of just being in the same spaces of those who you get to engage.

If a topic triggered a massive discussion among your students, you have two ways out of this situation: ignore it and go on with your plan, or use this opportunity to increase STT and see where if will flow and what necessities it will arise. This might lead you to presenting and practicing some functional language or vocabulary or a grammatical construction.

Be ready to improvise

By planning beyond the classroom, a whole new level of understanding and relevant learning takes place. It is often absolutely not necessary to search for dozens of extra activities and some new content. To create opportunistic learning  environment we often just need to adjust a bit the classroom organization, for example, divide students into groups according to their learning styles or own choices, adapt content and tasks we have in the programme to a relevant current situation. By current situation I mean gaps in understanding, big current events, actualities, news. Karl Lagerfeld died and teen students who study art and dream to become designers were eager to learn personality adjectives to describe fashion outfits that he created so if the outfit was a person.

It would be a good idea to have your bank of activities (your teacher`s kit always next to you in the classroom). For example, 6 easy ways to teach Present Perfect, games for practicing Future, music, photobank and etc. It is always nice to have a Play Hat or your favourite accessories for gaming, questioning or storytelling. For online teacher opportunities are endless. Online teachers` kits contain sites, folders with pictures and videos, YouTube playlists etc.

Give feedback

Give constant relevant personal feedback to your class. Individual feedback in words, remarks and ideas for improvement requires deep listening and your teacher`s love for your classroom. Your students may forget the vocabulary but they will never forget YOU who notice all their rises and falls. YOU who push them towards their goals. YOU who care.

The goal of opportunistic teaching is to light up a spark of excitement and urgency in your students`questioning and then become a guide on the side rather than sage on the stage. Very often using the same materials and curriculum. And again, here as language teachers,  we have quite a lot of freedom to cover curriculum using opportunities.

Яна Бойко

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