A Love Story in TEFL by Nick Jaworski

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,  

No book.  

No worksheets. 

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… 

Nick Jaworski is a Director of Studies at Oxford House College in Istanbul, Turkey where he lives with his beautiful wife Hande.

He blogs about ELT in Turkey at Turklish TEFL.

10 Responses to “A Love Story in TEFL by Nick Jaworski”

    July 06, 2010

    Definitely the most original way of presenting dogme in the classroom ever, next you'll have them dancing in the dark! :)))

  • Alex Case says:
    July 07, 2010

    I can see this turning into a competition to see who can make their approach sound the sexiest, e.g.

    "His tasks sent her heart aflutter"


    "Every time she heard him say 'Present Perfect Continuous' her heart missed a beat"


    "They way she shuffled the pack of multicoloured flashcards sent him crazy"

    July 07, 2010

    Michael stood there an imposing, dominant figure lecturing about the way the brain works, he glanced at the detailed lesson plan in front of him.... the sound of his voice droning on in Bulgarian, made her think again of Sam.

    No materials, eh?

    I wonder what it would be like to have the chance to speak in class?

    Hmm... she reflected, I wonder if I am a bit too much like Michael? Oh, indeed, Sam was a dangerous person to have around.

    July 07, 2010

    er, thanks for the comment, Alex... that was actually why I logged in but then you made me start thinking... tsk, tsk...

  • Nick Jaworski says:
    July 07, 2010

    I love it Alex! Perhaps you can help me write part 2?

    I like the direction yours is going in too Karenne. Perhaps a writing team. Isn't that how the Romance novels are usually written anyway?

    Now, who would we put on the front cover? :) :)

  • Alex Case says:
    July 08, 2010

    "They'd done requests, apologies and complaints, but they could both see that they were moving towards the functional language of luuuuurve"

  • Darren says:
    July 09, 2010

    I'm looking forward to the part when they turn to the British National Corpus to find collocations for 'throbbing' and synonyms for 'engorged'.

    July 11, 2010

    Darren! It's you... you're Sandy MacManus - outed! Finally!!!!

  • Darren says:
    July 12, 2010

    I always get like this in hot weather. Thank god I'll be in England for the summer!

  • Alex Case says:
    July 12, 2010

    "A tall, dark, Silent Way stranger walked into the room"


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