When I made a suggestion for a lesson theme to my French Tutor, Maggie Causer, she agreed that my idea was worth trying. She then asked me whether I would like to run the session for our group. So with some trepidation I agreed to give it a go.
Our u3a group consists of keen students with mixed ability level language skills. I joined the group during the Covid crisis late summer last year. During the time I have been attending the Zoom meetings we have had sessions where the participants prepare work and Maggie asks questions that we answer or helps us to discuss related topics. We have also had sessions where our tutor encourages participants to examine a particular aspect of grammar. Sometimes the topics chosen have been in response to requests made by group members. My suggestion was that perhaps we could use the screen share facility to show a short video with a French person speaking and use this as a listening comprehension. Maggie was very supportive of the idea.
There were several elements of preparation: which video to show and how long the clip should be; a pace that learners could follow whilst also presenting some challenges to the group members; working out how to manage the technology as Screen Sharing was required.
The next part of my planning involved the decisions about the language, the questions that I wanted to use for the class and also deciding on how long to spend on each part of the planned activity. This should have been the longest part of my preparation but the previous issues had taken up much of my week. I think that any future session will be easier now that the other issues have been resolved.
What did I learn and what did I gain from taking the class?
- That our tutors put in a lot of work making our classes run smoothly and preparing materials
- That u3a has some very supportive people on a local and National level (our class members, our own group tutor, the national advisors and technical back up teams) . They want to help you succeed and achieve your goals
- That my session was not perfect but it was about having a go and trying something new. There was an opportunity for the group to feedback and many helpful comments were made along with lots of very kind remarks about how much the group enjoyed it. All of this is valuable learning and can go towards making future improvements to try to create an even better session next time
- That taking a session is very different to participating in a session. It requires more thinking on your feet. This was a very valuable experience as it helped with my own personal development. It tests and extends skills in the subject being taught and is a way of putting your learning into practice. It gave me a greater personal challenge. We are all learning together at our own pace.
Our tutor, Maggie, was present throughout the session and was there as a backup to help and support me.
Was I pleased I had accepted the challenge?– Yes
Would I do it again?– Yes
I hope this has inspired others to have a go if the opportunity arises.
Christine Travers Brookes