The setting of the learning environment is the seventh lesson - in this point I would like you to be reminded with the setting of my first and second play observation which were this class’ introductory lesson and the third in row lesson- of the same language class consisting of students – speakers of other languages - at the age of 6-8 years old who are taught English as a foreign language. Julie, the child who the Play observation emphasizes on, is a new student, from Greece, coming to the school for the first year. Julie has already completed 3 weeks attending the school’s classes. On the day the third play observation took place, Julie was sitting next to one of her classmates, the same girl of the second play observation and seemed feeling quite relaxed and enjoying the anticipation of the lesson’s procedure. She was smiling vividly, she was chatting with her classmates and she was exchanging opinions with the other classmates on the project they had been given for this seventh lesson of their language class. She wore a pink blouse with a purple heart on it saying ‘love is everything’ and a pair of jeans.
The objective of this lesson was to evaluate children’s knowledge on new vocabulary acquisition and grammar rules. The teacher had assigned them a project which could be presented either individually or as a group of three persons at the most. The aim of the project was to narrate an incident of great significance to them as a way to practice and apply the grammar rules on the use of Past tenses, S. Past and Past Continuous to be specific, and the new vocabulary they had been taught on feelings and linking words when used in narrating stories either orally or in written speech. If the project was to be presented by a group of the students then the students had to present a significant incident which they experienced together and they had to develop a dialogue sharing their own way of experiencing it.
This time the teacher had provided his students with greater freedom in comparison with the previous procedures which were in a way led and guided by the teacher so that the number of mistakes could be reduced and the difficulties in the structure of the lesson could be better controlled. This time the teacher felt pretty confident that his students had reached a certain point of self-confidence so he had provided them with freedom in choosing how to organize their groups or how to present their project individually.
The only material the students had been provided with were posters with the linking words they had been taught and with short dialogues using S. Past and Past Continuous so that they could be helped in revising their grammar rules.
When Julie’s turn came to stand up and announce the class with her decision on the presentation of the project I was really positively surprised to see that she had decided to present the experience on her own.
She seemed so confident when announcing the class with her decision and she stood up walking towards the front place of the class, in front of the board, to start narrating. She had some small papers in her hands and when standing in front of her classmates and her techer she said that her story was on the most significant experience in her life up to that point and that it had to do with love. She pointed at her blouse and she said that the saying of her blouse is actually the thematic core of her presentation.
Then Julie started narrating her experience. From the very beginning of her narration it was obvious that she was talking about her coming to this new country with her family and to be more specific, she actually had decided to talk about her first day in this particular class of her lesson in being taught the foreign language as a speaker of another language.
She did not lean backwards but stood without turning red in face, showing none of discomfort. Her narration was on a very personal experience and it was a kind of confession to the teacher and the rest of her classmates how she had felt about them and how and what had helped them to manage and approach her in such a way that she had felt such confidence and she had managed to get rid gradually of all her discomfort, her bad thoughts, her hesitation.
She was looking at her classmates narrating the good things and attitudes she remembered and she even went on describing something, a particular attitude of one of her classmates without naming him which and really annoyed her. She did not use sarcasm or irony. She used a lot of good humor and depicted the bad attitude she had experienced in such a way that she showed that she had understood that the way she felt was not only the responsibility of her classmate but of herself as well. When she finished her narration she was given a warm applause by her classmates who seemed to have clear understanding of her feelings and admiration of her courage to share them with them.
This third in row Play observation was based on the feedback of an internal Play which took place between the members of this class and Julie, the child who is observed throughout this project. This was an internal Play showing that in human relationships there is always this kind of interaction lying behind what is obvious at first sight. Julie showed that she has progreesed greatly in developing her emotional intelligence since she was ready to acknowledge and narrate this internal play of her relationship with her classmates. Julie also shows that she has realized the importance of image when addressing to an audience. This is a proof that she has started thinking that preparation of someone on what he / she is about to listen to, is important. Also. Julie has acquired the sense of self evaluation. She went on a step forward as far as the project she was assigned as member of this class is concerned. she used this assignment not only to evaluate her learning on the specific material taught but also on the emotional evolution which had taken part within herself as part of growing and building her self-confidence.
Her voice was loud and stable and she did not seem to have any stops or moments of discomfort. This time also she seemed less obsessed with making sure that she would make no mistakes. She seemed to be more obsessed with making sure that what she wanted to share with her classmates would be shared. She wanted to build a love bridge between her and her classmates. And this is what she did. She actually said that love was the way that her class managed to make her a better person. She said that she had learned to love others and to acvept that others loved her too.
The above mentioned Play observation provided me with valuable reflections on Julie’s change and progress. It was a very fruitful experience presenting me with the truth lying in Vygotsky’s, Piaget’s and Mead’s psycho-pedagogical theories. Like in the second observation, once more Vygotsky’s beliefs in the significance of the social environment and its stimulations to a person’s evolution, are once more reinforced. Julie seems to have developed emotional intelligence which is a very important acquisition in one’s evolution of character.
The importance of the interpersonal skills as developed between people who share same experiences, same problems. Same social conditions are proven. In addition it is clear that no matter the differences in one’s cultural or educational or family background, feelings are always of equal significance.
It is the power of love for learning, the power of love towards those one is cooperating with, that makes a person more self-confident and able to start entering the field of self-evaluation helping thus himself / herself in becoming an active member of his / her society.