“Macaroni and cheese – everybody freeze” – and everyone present at a marvelous Ms. Gkiouri’s workshop was more than happy to freeze and follow every instruction this fantastic teacher gave us. She had our attention within the first seconds of the presentation, during which Ms. Gkiouri shared with us 10 ideas on how to motivate and engage young learners. First we were told a story of Armelido, a student who struggled with English and was completely demotivated before he came to Ms. Gkiouri’s class. It is his new teacher’s love, constant encouragement and trust in the student’s success that made Armelido not only make progress in English but also made him dream of becoming a language teacher. What can make a teacher more proud than that? Teaching to all the learning styles in class is another way to motivate our students. The easiest and one of the most effective way to do that is by involving the learners to participate in different projects.
Some of the projects Ms. Gkiouri did with her students included interviewing “the Greek Prime Minister” or “Virgin Maria”, and a Eurovision song contest parody – a concert taken place at the end of the school year.
Using a variety of games, puppets, storybooks and taking the students to the school yard, Ms Gkiouri manages to turn boring dictations and grammar exercises into an engaging activity. She actually goes beyond the classroom, encouraging her students to communicate with other people all over the globe, either by using Skype lessons, finding pen pals or inviting native speakers to the class, because that’s how students understand the real purpose for learning the language. Besides the language, Ms. Gkiouri pays much attention to developing students’ self-motivation and cooperation – two very important skills necessary to succeed. At the end of her workshop, Ms. Gkiouri shared “Whole brain teachers rules” – absolutely amazing ideas on how to deal with discipline problems. No wonder, Miss Gkiouri, that after such wonderful lessons your students want to “make the dear teacher happy.”
By Lana Lemeshko
Interview by Theodora Papapanagiotou