Default Teacher Mode

Before I moved (back) across the world and returned to the States, I had been somewhat experimenting with my teaching style, slowly embracing conversation-driven learning (what some call dogme). I have been teaching at my current university for less than a month now and it just hit me the other day: where did my “radical” teaching style go? I was, just a few months ago, teaching out of the box, on the fly, working with emergent language and spontaneity, etc., etc. But now, it seems I have defaulted to a more orthodox (yet, still effective – I hope) teacher.

This got me wondering about whether or not we have a default teacher mode. When presented with new students, new classrooms, and a wildly new teaching situation, is there some default pedagogy and praxis we fall back to? A kind of fight or flight “teacher nature”? Like so many first-time teachers, do we default to the way our teachers taught? Do we default to some distilled base essence of what we consider good, tried-and-true teaching?

In thinking about this, I feel that five years ago, my default teacher mode would have been different. I would have been more rigid, more-planned, and less purposeful in my teaching. These days, while I am rebooting, I can see that I naturally leave a lot more wiggle room in my classes, and I try to incorporate what the students want to say (their emergent language) without thinking about it. In essence, the changes I made in Korea have clearly affected the true essence of my instruction in a way that it has slightly altered my default.

Conversation-driven learning? Not really. Learner-centered? Somewhat? Effective? I hope so. Useful and fun? Always.