Some of my students will learn English whether I’m a good teacher or not. They are the most fun to teach, and they ask the most interesting questions, but I spend most of our class time on the middle of the bell curve, the ones who are progressing and struggling and need a second explanation. I can’t take credit for my dream students’ progress, but I love hearing my middle students ask and answer “Where is your verb?” or “Who’s doing this action?” or any of the other things I repeat in class. That’s when I feel like I’m doing a good job.
There’s a third section of my academic triage. These are the ones who come in late, who forget their books, who don’t have a pencil, who aren’t sure which page we’re on, who whisper through the explanation, who didn’t know there was homework, who didn’t have time to read and so forth. Fortunately I have only a couple like this, but they are repeat offenders.
I don’t know what to do about the ones who lack basic study skills. I don’t want to just ignore them and but I don’t want to waste our class time and my energy on students who are actively fighting against learning English.