Session 259: Celebrating Magical Moments in the Classroom

Thursday 2nd July 2015 - Hosted by @NVandenAbeele

MagicMomentsFeatureThis #ukedchat was hosted by @NVandenAbeele with the focus on those ‘magical moments’ in the classroom. Inspired by the quote (see image), the session explored how you cope when lessons go ‘off plan’, and you run with what is capturing the interest of your pupils.

In particular, the session asked:

  1. What are conceivable positive consequences of deviating from an original lesson plan?
  2. What drawbacks can deviating from an original lesson plan have?
  3. What do you do with lesson plans / lesson notes after a lesson that contains such magic moments?
  4. Can these deviated moments be predicted? How do you prepare for them?
  5. What are the links between the occurrence of magic moments and teaching experiences?
  6. How can teachers be flexible when magic moments turn up in a lesson, especially when specific objectives need to be delivered?

The Summary 

The session’s main topic was magic moments, as defined by Jeremy Harmer is his book How to teach English as events that happen in a lesson which the teacher didn’t expect and/but which may well be extremely beneficial for the students even though they weren’t part of the original plan.

Apart from the idea that it is useful to allow deviation from lesson plans, a suggestion was launched during this chat session about collecting and sharing magic moments, e.g. with a blog or an online database. Most participants agreed that deviating from lesson plans involves more benefits than disadvantages. It was agreed that deviation is also about the self-confidence on the teacher’s part.

One of the items that came up during the session is that magic moments can lead to an in-depth reflection: teachers are thinking about how to plan next lessons based on their experiences with these so-called magic moments. This reflection can be both personal (as in the old-school diary format) and public (e.g. making use of a blog or other online tools to be shared with the online educational world).

Sharing with colleagues seems to be a very good idea: further analysis and discussion could improve the quality of teaching, people think.

A comparison was made with sports: being like a coach when magic moments happen: to respond to what is happening at the time and change tactics if needed.

In his book, J. Harmer explains that it would be foolish to plough on with the foreseen lesson plan. On the contrary, he states, a good teacher will recognise the magic moment for what it is and adapt what they had planned accordingly. Magic moments are precious, and should not be wasted. This is exactly what came out of the chat session.

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About the host:
Nico Van den Abeele has been an English lecturer in Belgium since 2001.
In September 2014, he started as a lecturer of English Subject Knowledge and English Methodology at Howest, University College West Flanders in Bruges, BE.

He is currently teaching students in teacher training and has a particular interest in games for language learning, flipping the classroom, differentiation, story-telling and magic moments in education.

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