Their eyes met across the crowded teacher’s room. She had never seen him before. He must be a new hire to replace Crazy Steve, she thought, and boy, was he handsome.
He smiled at her and she felt a few butterflies flitter in her stomach. Smiling tentatively back, she gathered her collection of pens, freshly filled markers, worksheets and books and navigated through the mass of busy teachers making last minute preparations so she could introduce herself.
“Hi, I’m Kim, from Australia,” she said.
“The name’s Sam. I’m from South Africa. Nice to meet you.”
“Nice to meet you, too.”
Looking at the table in front of him, she was surprised to see only a few blank sheets of paper and some pens and markers. Lessons started in 5 minutes and he didn’t seem to have anything prepared. “Well, I better leave you alone. You probably have some last minute planning to do.”
“No, that’s alright. I’m a Dogme teacher,” he said, “My lessons are conversation-driven. I generally don’t bring a lot of materials to class.”
A bit taken aback, she asked, “But what do you do if the students have nothing to talk about?”
“There’s always something to talk about,” he responded with a little smile.
The butterflies kicked it up a notch in her stomach. Wow, she thought as worlds of new possibilities began opening themselves up to her,
I mean, I’ve recently started trying to make some of my own materials rather than use that stuffy old course book, but to simply leave them completely behind, to let the lesson move along at its own pace; the thought was scary but somehow very liberating, too.
She imagined him striding confidently into the classroom, engaging the students with his presence and that devilish smile. Unrestrained by an armful of materials, he could walk freely among the students, his long wavy hair bouncing as he moved around. “Wow,” she said in a sort of awed whisper, “That’s really interesting. I’ve never heard of a teacher doing that before. I guess it‘s easier than planning a whole bunch of stuff for hours.”
“Well, it’s not as easy as it sounds. There is a lot of thought and reflection that goes into it. You also have to be really alert and know how to work with emergent language.”
“It really sounds fascinating. I’m not sure I could do something like that.”
“Oh, it just takes a little practice, like anything else. Hey, I know. Why don’t you come observe me sometime? You know, get a feel for how it works.”
“Really? Would that be alright? I mean, I wouldn’t want to disturb your class or anything.”
“Oh no, it’s no problem at all. I have another class at 9 on Thursday. Are you free then?”
“Yes, actually I am. That’d be really great. I’ll be there.”
Her head was swimming. She couldn’t believe he had invited her to watch him teach. She barely knew him for crying out loud! She wasn’t normally one to get so involved with another teacher so quickly. She was more the nervous type, quietly planning lessons by herself in the corner, too embarrassed to ask other teachers for help. But there was something about him, perhaps a certain twinkle in his eye, an aura of daring. It inspired her and gave her the confidence to be a bit more forward.
“Well, we better get to class. It was nice meeting you and I look forward to seeing you on Thursday,” he said.
“Same here. See you later.”
“Have a good lesson Kim,” he called over his shoulder as he left the room.
“You too Sam,” she whispered to herself as she watched him walk away.
To be continued…
He blogs about ELT in Turkey at Turklish TEFL.