Technologically and linguistically adventurous EFL teacher, trainer, writer and manager

Yesterday my intermediate lesson was meh. Nobody really spoke in the first 40 minutes or so (of 90), despite my best efforts. Another teacher came in to tell the group about our school quiz on Friday and commented on how un-energetic they were. They were playing on Quizlet, using various different functions they hadn’t really explored before. I wanted them to use it in class in the hope that they would then go back to it at home. Quizlet Live normally gets them fired up, but while generally engaged, there didn’t seem to be much energy to carry over into the next activities. Levels of energy increased slightly for some students when they realised they could beat me on the ‘Match’ mode with the set we were using, and three of them even signed up for Quizlet so it would remember their score. This was revision with some vocabulary they’d struggled with last week, so when we moved onto some new vocab, they weren’t really feeling it. We did have some speaking in between which was more engaging and was a good change of pace. The last few minutes was some rushed grammar which we needed to look at (they don’t use it, and I’m trying to expand their range and awareness of what they could use), but didn’t have time to do justice to. All in all, I wasn’t that pleased with the lesson, though I know they all took something away from it. The quiet activities did benefit the more introverted students, who I try to cater for much more in my lessons now, but don’t always succeed with, but there was a general apathy throughout. At some point in the last few months, one of my colleagues mentioned that if she didn’t get her group talking in the first 5-10 minutes she found it really hard to get them talking later in the lesson, and I think this was one of the issues here. Another problem was that I taught my plan, which had too much in it because I wanted to revise from last week and add new language I know they need. There wasn’t enough breathing space in the lesson, and nowhere near enough opportunities to practise all of the new language.

I’ve written this to show that even after nearly 10 years of teaching, considerable amounts of professional development, becoming a Director of Studies, teacher trainer and materials writer, it’s still possible to teach some pretty rubbish lessons! It’s just that now I have a better idea of why they didn’t work as well as I wanted them to, and they happen much less frequently 🙂 What was the last ‘not my best lesson’ which you taught?

Four images of Sandy in class - two giving instructions, one with a hand up for silence, and one writing on the board

Not this lesson, but another one with the same group which went much better 🙂

Comments on: "Not my best lesson (paragraph blogging)" (6)

  1. Your post came in a good time for me. I’ve been feeling almost all my classes are “meh” and despite having nearly 9 years of experience, TKT and few language proficiency cerrificates (not CPE yet). I feel like giving up sometimes since It seems everyone is doing an amazing job (by the looks of their contributions on social media groups), but me.
    Your post shows me that nobody is perfect and not all classes will be always perfect (doesn’t matter how many years of experience or titles you have).
    Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s what I was thinking. There have been failure fests on social media before, but you don’t often see people writing about the lessons that don’t work. Hang on in there Juliana! And maybe write about some of the meh classes and get some feedback. As a little bit of advertising, I wonder whether my new ebook would help you out? Have a look at a sample task here: Good luck!


      • Thank you, Sandy! 🙂

        When you say “get some feedback” whom did you have in mind? From a colleague of mine?

        I’ll definitely take a look at your ebook sample! 😉


  2. […] on from Monday’s lesson, I deliberately made sure that my intermediate class today would have lots of opportunities to […]


  3. As a ‘normal’ teacher, i.e. one who is not a manager or (yet, though I hope to branch into it soon) teacher trainer, I find your post very reassuring. For teachers in my position it’s very easy to imagine that those who are observing you or have a media presence must always teach amazing lessons themselves. This can feel quite frankly just a little bit intimidating… So as Juliana says above, it’s very reassuring to realise that everybody, no matter what position they hold or how long they have been teaching, has moments/ lessons that don’t go as well as they could do; and that they have almost certainly at some point made the same mistakes as you have.


    • Hi Lucy,
      I’m glad this post helped! I’m going to try and share more reflections on teaching this class over the next few weeks if I can.
      Thank you for the comment,


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