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Susan strides up and down the narrow aisles between the fifty-five desks filled with students in the cold classroom in China. She looks down and sees a Chinese magazine open to pages that reveal unrecognizable characters.
“What class is this?” Susan says.
The student looks up at her and blinks, expressionless.
“English class,” the student says.
“What book then, should be open on your desk?”
The student slams the Chinese book closed and opens her English textbook.
“Thank you,” Susan says.
The veteran ESL Instructor moves to another desk and asks the same question.
The student stares at her but does not move a muscle.
Susan repeats the question.
The student still does not answer and Susan’s mind drifts to advice she received from her respected TESOL Instructor back in Canada.
“Don’t engage in a power struggle with the kids, especially teenagers, you will always lose.”
Hi Susan,
It is obvious that you are a great teacher and that you want the best for your students!!!!. My name is Zonnee. Before, studying for the on line Global Tesol College Certificate, this winter I had the opportuninty and taught in France as a Teacher/ Teacher's Assistant. The grade levels were seventh to seniors. Whenever, I had a student or students who shown signs of being disinterested in the subject or the lesson that was being taught, I would use that at my advantage.

For example, a student was listening to his " IPod" which was playing "American Rap" which is universal. To me that was an opening. I gave him and the class their time to voice their opinions about different types of music and art. After, about 10 or 15 min. of a 55 min. class. I was able to introduce the lesson. They all thought that I was cool. Because I let them voice their likes and dislikes concerning a topic that most teenerages think that adults do not known about.

Whenever, a student is doing something that does not pertain to your lesson, like reading a booking, listening to an "IPod", talking or just not paying attention, turn that moment into a positive experience. As an educator use this strategy to let them express their ideas. Also, you will win them over has you are beginning to teach your lesson while maintaning full control. This will be your "ice breaker, not a power struggle", to begain a class or a conversation with your students while presenting new grammer and so on. Furthermore, you will be able to hear their usage of the English Language.

Great advice Zondra! Everything when creativity is invested can become an opportunity for learning. Your students were right, you are cool!
Hello Zonnee,

Thanks for the great advice. I'm looking forward to more of your ideas and positive approach.