I’m an English teacher and program manager at a private school in Osaka. I received my masters in writing from Washington University in St. Louis and have been teaching in Japan for 18 years. This blog is my attempt to actively try to link up some of the theories that I find attractive (or not) with what is actually happening in my classroom. The more I study, the more I realize that every act of teaching is in some ways a simplification of how English is actually used outside of the classroom. As teachers, we are often focusing on one point (grammar, pronunciation, discourse) and that necessarily implies that there are a host of other factors we ignore. If this is done thoughtfully and through necessity, than I believe our students can benefit from the choices we make. But that entails being aware of the students’ expectations. It also requires reflection and evaluation to make sure the points we focus on, the substance of our class, is material that the students actually need to learn.
So why, “The Other Things Matter”? Because, if at some point in a lesson, we realize that our focus and the students’ needs do not link up, we must pivot (and quickly) towards those other things. And in a student centered classroom, I believe that much of the time, these “other things” will end up naturally becoming the heart of the lesson. So as I pick up pieces of theory and try to put them into practice, I want to be vigilant about all those other things that I am choosing to not teach during any 50 minute lesson. And hopefully this blog will give me a chance to see not only how theories play out during class time, but how they might also be a distraction from the day to day needs of my students.