Posted in Dogme, Reflection

A love letter to Dogme teaching

I know Dogme teaching isn’t to everyone’s liking, but boy did it get me out of trouble recently. I was in a real bind which I’ll detail below shortly. 

I am really thankful that I explored this teaching methodology during my Delta, and I tend to have, what teachers and bloggers call online, ‘Dogme Moments’ in my classroom pretty much all the time now. However, for a class I had a couple of weeks ago, I had to use a deep-end approach, and it really saved my bacon. Let me explain.

I came home after a long day ready to start my in-company sessions for the evening. As you do, I got my email, material, and Zoom all fired up and ready to go. But, the Internet started to drop a little bit. No big, just restart the computer, what could go wrong? Big mistake. 

The laptop decided, without my permission, to install all the programs I had been putting off installing for ages. So, there I was with an hour to go before my lessons looking at my laptop’s installation time thingamajig slowly… very slowly… move to the right. Dread started to set in. Was I going to be able to teach these classes at all?

Thankfully, the laptop installed all the programs I hadn’t wanted in time for the lesson, but everything was now running at a snail’s pace. 

Using Zoom was a nightmare. I couldn’t share my screen, move to other programs, search the net, nada. So, what was I to do? My session was for an hour and a half with a business professional. Thankfully, the student likes speaking, so I decided to go full Dogme for the evening while my laptop got itself together in the background. I think the lesson would have fallen flat on its face had it been with someone who didn’t like speaking or if it had been with a big group of students.

The topic was quite juicy – I think it was about how to engage and motivate a team at work – and the student really liked it. I listened carefully to their answers and took the conversation into areas to challenge their language capabilities. I took down a lot of notes, as I usually do, and fed back examples of good language, areas that needed improvement, and suggestions for future. 

While this was going on, I was praying that my laptop would move out of first gear, but the tech was just really failing me. I apologised to the student because I had things to show her and recordings to use, but she didn’t mind. She explained that because she doesn’t get to speak English much at work, she savoured this time, and was really appreciative that she was given this opportunity to explore her ideas and to be challenged on looking at things in different ways. 

On my side of things, it took me time but I finally let go of the idea of using material and technology and just focused on the student and their ideas. Dogme really came to my rescue that night. 

Before we finished, we reflected on the night as a student and teacher, and I applauded her work and effort. It was a real mental workout for her but she seemed to relish the practice and opportunity to explore her ideas. 

I wouldn’t like to do full-on Dogme all the time as I like to plan a little bit, have a few, well-thought-out activities, videos, and so on, but at least I know now that if I were in a bind like I was back then, I can pull out Dogme and do a complete session relatively well without having to worry too much, especially if the tech decides to do things without my permission!

3 thoughts on “A love letter to Dogme teaching

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