Friday, February 06, 2009

More Fun with TEFL

I was going to stay in the Midlands this weekend and work on the MA, but this morning [Friday] I woke up with an urgent need to get home. I spent the morning in the last session with my one-to-one student, and then got on a bus for the city centre and the railway station. I’m drafting this an hour and a half from Glasgow.

I need to get home to process the week’s events at BTM. On Tuesday morning there was an inch or so of snow. I got to work to find the building with the staff room and most of the classrooms was locked “due to bad weather”. One of the teachers – like me, a former lawyer – soon put me straight: the landlord had descended overnight, “despite the falling snow” and changed the locks. The reasons are mysterious, but it seems likely that BTM had leased the building from the tenant in breach of that tenant’s agreement with the head landlord. Or something. None of us really knows. The big cheese of BTM may simply have not being paying the rent.

Classes were cancelled that day. On Wednesday, absurd attempts were being made to fit classes into too few and too small classrooms. On Thursday, more heavy snow gave a decentish excuse to close the school again. This morning, there were classes (the building where I teach my one-to-one student is separate, and there are some classrooms there). I didn’t go near the building which houses the administration, and where the big cheese’s own office has been made into an impromptu staff room.

At no time has the big cheese spoken to the teaching staff, perhaps to explain the locked building, and assure them about their futures. I tried to suggest via my pal the ADOS that I could perhaps work from home next week, as I’m preparing a course and it’s mostly deskwork, but apparently the big cheese said “no”. So, I’m going to have to prepare the course under rather cramped circs, in a room which is an office for me, the ADoS, the DoS, the big cheese, and a staff room, without reference to any texts… Ah well.

However, it’s not all doom and gloom. The course will depend heavily on Task Based Learning, and I can see an opportunity here to do research for the approaching dissertation: TBL, a case study, perhaps from a Critical Pedagogy point of view.

Because Critical Pedagogy is my latest thing. The Good Doctor, my supervisor for the MA has suggested a new perspective on the current assignment – looking at accents in teaching materials, but with a testing theory and CP perspective. It’s a good idea, but it means I’ve got to do a lot of fresh reading, and I’ll probably need an extension to the assignment deadline of the 20th of this month.

Oh, and I’m now officially an item writer for the Famous Exam Board.