My A-Repeaters were good, and they knew it. Their grades confirmed the fact, too. They were also aware that the observation sessions experienced had helped them and me to develop ourselves to the point of success. Although they had been observed by Tony Gurr and one other colleague of mine for several times, there still remained one person to whom my class wanted to prove themselves. That person was none other than Handan Kopkallı Yavuz, the director of the School of Foreign Languages of Anadolu University.
After the final video recording with Tony Gurr present, my students asked me if it would be possible for Handan Kopkallı Yavuz to come to class and see them in action. It was especially important for the students because they believed they were not losers, and they could show it to everybody including the director of the school. Another point is that I had previously shared with them the interest Handan Hoca had in their learning process as she frequently asked me about the efficacy of the strategies used to make a real difference with A-Repeaters.
When I told Mrs. Kopkallı Yavuz about the issue, she, without hesitation, agreed and said “I’d be happy to come”. This answer, I must say, made me joyous as well because I was not sure if she could find a time for the visit on her already-packed agenda. I understood that Handan Hoca cared more than I thought about me teaching A-Repeaters and them developing confidence along with awareness.
The day set for the visit was the last lesson day for me with my class. That was a perfect arrangement because students had already covered everything in the book and they could meet the requisitions of the course well enough. That being the case, I felt comfortable and calm, too as I thought I would be able to have a totally stress-free session with my students. By the end of the lesson, I could see that I had been right about it all.
The lesson was full of interaction, reflection, and full participation on the students’ side. They certainly took responsibility for their own learning, and they were quite successful at that. Moreover, they gave me no hard time about classroom management either. As for me, I had built on my previous experiences of observation, so I handled everything more skillfully. For instance, I did not steal my students’ time by not eliciting the instructions for the activities from them. Those of you who have been following my posts will remember that eliciting the instruction from class was one of the things I lacked.
However, the most striking aspect of the session was something else. It was that Handan Kopkallı Yavuz and my students had worked together for the pair and group-work tasks. They had even spoken with her in only English while working with her as a team. It was a great thing to see them working in harmony because Handan Hoca was also showing to the students that she really trusted in them. While all that was happening, I just watched them; it was, maybe, the most unforgettable moment in my teaching career. What can be more impressive than the view of students with a low level of English working in co-operation with a professor of linguistics?
I became more convinced that my students and I had done a good job during the module when Handan Kopkallı Yavuz spoke the following statement: “I’m impressed”. That told me more than the statement normally signifies because I knew it was not always easy to make a positive impression on an academician dedicated to learning and teaching for nearly 30 years, yet there we were proving solidly that we had made a spectacular progress.
In short, I would specially like to thank Handan Kopkallı Yavuz for giving my class and me the opportunity to show that we CAN. I would also like to express to my students my happiness about having worked with them and appreciation for the efforts they had made to change themselves.