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EXPERIMENTAL 40+ student body management strat 
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Joined: Thu May 20, 2010 6:49 pm
Posts: 25
Location: Japan
Post EXPERIMENTAL 40+ student body management strat
I teach at a high school in Japan. I see over 1000 different students every week. Surprisingly, I love it. This has been one of the most challenging experiences and the rewards (in the form of new ideas) I receive for the struggle have been awesome. What follows is one of these rewards.

DISCLAIMER - the following idea has not been tested yet. It is based on an idea that came to me a couple months back but at that time I was not able to work it into my routine. Just today I revisited the idea and came up with a potential way to do so but sadly my students are approaching another testing period - which means about 2 weeks of "prep time" for me. Combine this prep time with the winter break and I will not be able to test this idea until after January 9th. I want to write it up here just in case there is someone, who after reading this, is feeling adventurous enough to try it before I can.

This idea is loosely based on E.M. Rogers theory called Diffusion of Innovations. The theory tries to explain how a innovation, whether it be applicable to the entire human race or just a small town of humans, is disseminated throughout said population of people. the tenant of this theory that I am focusing on is that there are different types of adopters - people who aid in the dissemination process: innovators, early adopters, early majority, late majority, and laggards. Innovators are the venturesome people who create/decide which innovation is to be used, early adopters are people who are willing to try anything new, early majority are people who respect early adopters and will try anything once the early adopters have tried it, late majority are skeptical people who wait until almost everyone is using the innovation before they use it, and laggards are traditionalists who have such a hard time letting go of the old ways that they usually end up being the last people to try anything new. Any new innovation goes through the hands of each adopter in the order I wrote them, and the numbers of each adopter resemble that of a bell-curve in statistics - meaning there are very few innovators, a little more early adopters, a lot of early majority, a lot of late majority and a few laggards. Once an innovation has made it into the hands of the early majority via the early adopters, there is a high chance of it being used by the rest of the population almost automatically, as if it was a roller coaster approaching a peek, being pulled by gravity down the other side.

Ok now, to my idea. I see any target language (TL) being a potential innovation, teachers being the innovators, and a class of students being the population throughout which the innovation needs to be diffused. A teacher could forgo this entire theory and diffuse the innovation using "the sweat of his/her brow" - teaching it to each student individually until it's correct understanding is demonstrated by each student individually. This way is perfectly fine for classrooms that consist of around 10 students, but very difficult for a typical public school classroom of 30+. What if it were possible to locate within any classroom the students who fit the profile of an early adopter, marry these students (the numbers of which will correlate to about 14% of the total classroom population according to the bell curve) to a correct usage of the TL sometime before class, then set up a lesson where the goal is for the students to produce something that demonstrates their understanding of the TL in the same way that the early adopters already do and the teacher just serves as a person to check off whether the student production meets the requirements or not. I wonder if the early adopter students will naturally share their knowledge to everyone in the classroom, which will be picked up first by the early majority, then the late majority, and lastly the laggards. If this would to work, it would mean that a TL could be taught to an entire class of students by means of the teacher sharing its correct usage to only a select few of students. This would cut teaching time down dramatically, and could also work wonders for tasks focused on speaking a TL as students would learn how to speak the TL first from their own classmate, and only demonstrate it to the teacher after they feel comfortable with it amongst their classmates.

As I write this I already realize a couple of potential problems but that is the process of innovation; to try something new, test it for kinks, share, revise, and continue. So if anyone here wants to try this idea out with me, has any questions, or just wants to tell me how crazy I am, lets get a conversation started.



Wed Dec 02, 2015 1:38 pm
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Joined: Mon Jan 02, 2006 10:46 am
Posts: 2130
Location: Nagano, Japan
Post Re: EXPERIMENTAL 40+ student body management strat
James - Did you get anywhere with this?

The idea seems interesting. I wonder whether the concept would apply to language learning in an EFL context. Since new language really isn't immediately useful to you late stage groups, it may not have the appeal of a new gadget or new innovation. It may be something that would work in a US ESL classroom where some useful language point would seem immediately helpful if mastered.

But, slang and new sayings catch on quick if presented the right way. If you can get some of the leaders to use the target language and draw interest to it, I'm sure the others in the class will pay attention.

Anyway, I'd love to hear how things have progressed with this.

Build up! Be positive! Teach hard!

Thu May 19, 2016 11:22 pm
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