Though in actual fact there have been several starts and beginnings since the end of August – I started work again on the 3rd September, #ELTChat kicked off again on the 12th, and classes started off again on 17th September – but despite all these new beginnings, September for me has been a month of downtime.

I’ve found it very very difficult to be enthused about the start of this academic year.  It has not been a prospect that has filled me with joy, energy or happiness – but then neither do I feel despair, depression or loathing – honestly, it all just seems to be more of the same.

New classes, some the same.  New faces, some familiar.  Essentially though, it seems as though it has all just been a continuation on from last year and that nothing has really changed.

Feeling motivated yet?

yay….  !

But as October dawns, more classes have come on-stream, the timetable is filling up and it is time to start thinking more about what, if anything, I’m going to do differently this year.

The two biggest bees in my bonnet right now are vocabulary and giving learners more individual attention.  The vocabulary focus has come about largely because I have a CAE class this year and I think the biggest jump from FCE to CAE is not found in differences in how the skills are tested but in how language is presented and used – so while I say vocabulary, what I mean is “chunks”.  I’m not limiting this new obsession simply to my CAE class, it’s going to be deployed with every class I come into contact with – so expect lots more vocabulary based posts as time goes by.

The second point, giving learners more individual attention, is something that arose after last Septembers’ post on Demoralising Feedback.  I’d like to find a way of working with learners on a more personalised basis, opening up a conversation with them about their learning and what they feel is going well and what isn’t, and find ways of helping learners get where they want to go.  This sounds a bit like a mentoring / coaching approach – neither of which are things I know much about, so any guidance would be greatly appreciated.  I’ve heard a mentoring approach described as being a nice idea in theory but unworkable in practice and I can understand that the time constraints involved are hugely limiting, so if anyone has any experience of mentoring / coaching students, please let me know!

I don’t feel it’s right to feel so stuck in the doldrums this early on in the school year and although it feels as though everything’s been coming along in dribs and drabs and the start has been a fitful one, it’s probably time to stop with all that and just get on with things.  It’s like I said to my daughter the other day:  “Sweetheart, you can lie on the floor feeling sorry for yourself if you want to or you can come and do something fun, it’s your choice.”

Time, I think, to go and do something fun…