Fauziah Ratna Hapsari is an English teacher in a public senior high school in Semarang, Indonesia. She has been teaching English since 2001. She has written articles focusing on TEFL in national journals and presented her research results in an international symposium. She participates actively as the committee of local English teacher association, and also trains teacher trainees and teachers. She is interested in materials development, literacy, autonomous learning, and assessment. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Lesson of introducing oneself and others can be such a dull activity without any challenges for teenage students. They have already learnt about these expressions when they were in the seventh grade. Therefore, they know the expressions quite well. However, they need to know more about the essence of knowing one another much better by impressive introduction.
Why do the students need challenging activities? I teach in a public school in which the students wear uniforms. Moreover, about 36 students in each class coming from different junior high schools do not know each other. In this case, students need to make a self-introduction as impressive as possible to be recognized by their class mates. On the other hand, students expect fun and goal achievement at the same time. Therefore, I invite the students to have fun and challenges in the activities of introducing oneself and others. The activities are carried out in 90 minutes of lesson.
First, I ask students how the students learnt about the expressions of self and other introduction in the seventh grade and what they can learn from the lesson.
After that, I announce students are going to introduce themselves in a restaurant. Before they conduct their performance, students need to arrange the seats as if they are in restaurants with two people at each table. Therefore, I ask students to work in group of 6 people to design the seating with one condition, that is, enough space for people to go mobile since it is a restaurant.
After 5 minutes of discussion, each group presents their ideas and students agree with the best idea for them.
Next, I ask the students to see the song video of I Won’t Change You by Shopie Ellis Bexter. The song is chosen since it shows the procedure of Speed Dating which the system is adapted in the activities of Brief Acquaintanceship. There are 36 students in a class so students have little space to move around. Then we make agreement that only 18 students move and the rests sit down and wait for their partners to come. Students who have known each other sit down in a row which means they do not need to introduce themselves to people they have already known.
Then, the next activity is discussion of the similarities and the differences between the activities in the song and in class. After the students understand procedures of the activities, students have class discussion on the expressions of introduction and the importance on making impression in the first meeting.
I inform that students will be allowed to introduce themselves to a class mate in 1 minute. Students have to introduce themselves and recognize information about each class mate they have just met.
When the next bell rings, the students should move to the next tables, and so on. Students move for 18 times. Then they go back to their own seat.
The next step is recounting the Brief Acquaintanceship; teacher distributes 5 different colors of sticky notes. Students write down 5 names of their new classmates and information about them. Then the students walk around to stick the notes on their class mates’ backs.
After that, students with the sticky notes will ask one of their class mates to introduce them to class based on the sticky notes on their backs.
The last step is reflecting. Student think how the quick making friends possibly happen in their real life. Students also give their opinion on how to impress people in the first meeting.
NB. These activities are challenging for teenagers because they realize the use of self-introducing and of impression in the first meeting.
Creativity in my classroom
I see creativity from teacher and students’ point of views. From teacher’s, I see how teacher can live up the classroom to support and improve students’ creativity in classroom activities. From students’, I see how students are affected to promote their creativity through the learning process in their classroom. This is in line with Jeffery and Craft (2004) in Grohman and Szmidt (2007) mentioning that teaching creatively means applying imaginative approaches to make learning interesting and effective. On the other hand, teaching for creativity means teaching attitude towards creativity and how to develop students’ creative thinking skills and behavior.
As a teacher, I do my best for my students to expose them to English language experience in English class. I should bring the students English to be learnt and to be used at the same time. Therefore, my students and I have the learning and teaching process as creative as possible to encourage the students think and use English creatively. I agree with the format proposed by Fehér (2015), that is, considering the normal activities, suggesting alternative, having a self reflection on how the proposed changed affect teacher and student creativity, making adaptation, variation, and extension.
Teaching English in public schools in Indonesia is quite challenging. In Indonesia, most public schools do not provide a special classroom for a subject. Students stay in classrooms and teachers come to the classes. In this situation, teachers are demanded to bring the atmosphere of their lessons wherever they are. On the other hand, I teach high school students with the range of age between 15 and 17 year old students. There are about 36 students and above in each class. Yes, it is a quite large number of students. Therefore, I need to teach creatively and leads students to be creative in their English classroom. It is such a challenge for me as an English teacher.
Before applying creative teaching, surely I observe the activities that students have in their English class. Furthermore, Kurtz (2015) writes that teachers should have the necessary know-how to design attractive learning environments that can help nurture creativity in EFL classroom interaction. Therefore, I ask the students what they learnt from the previous English class and how the previous teachers teach them in related lesson. For example, students learnt the expressions of introduction in the lower grade before they have the same lesson in my class, I asked what they learnt from the activities that they had in the previous class.
Having known how the English class students had previously, I make some changes in teaching. For instance, in learning the expressions of introduction, I connect the lesson with how students think creatively to impress others when people meet for the short first meeting. This is important point of introducing oneself.
The next steps after having the experiment, I invite the students to discuss how the lesson goes and what they learn from that, especially the tips on impressing people in the short first meeting. As it is stated by Szmidt (2001a) in Grohman and Szmidt (2013) that the best way to teach creativity lessons is to be empathetic, authentic, open and assertive, an also flexible, reflective, and innovative.
Students taught in creative ways develop deeper understanding of learning. Furthermore, Fautley and Savage (2007) states that teaching creativity develops metacognition in which involves students in the thought process they are going through and reflecting on how they arrived at the decisions they have made. In my class, students are encouraged to give ideas, to take parts actively in the learning steps, and to reflect the learning process.
Creativity plays important role in language classroom. It does not only affect the teacher but also the students. Therefore, it should be carried out carefully to improve the learning quality and the participants of the learning itself.
Fautley, M and Savage, J. (2007). Creativity in Secondary Education. Exeter: Learning Matters Ltd.
Fehér, J. (2015). Creativity in the English Language Classroom. London: British Council.
Grohman, M. G. and Szmidt, K. J. (2013). Teaching Creatively and Teaching Creativity. New York: Springer Science+Business Media.
Kurtz, J. (2015). Creativity in the English Language Classroom. London: British Council.
Please check the Creative Methodology for the Classroom course at Pilgrims website.
Please check the Methodology and Language for Secondary course at Pilgrims website.
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