Flexibility in the ESL classroom

Having flexibility in the ESL classroom is essential as things can often change or be altered at the last minute. Staying ahead of this by being flexible is what makes a great teacher. 

fgThis week is the last week of English camp. My country school is always full of surprises. On Monday, I went to work early. Set up the English room with all the props I needed for the day’s lesson.

I arranged the desk exactly how I wanted them. I took my time writing the schedule of the day and in nice big, bold, vibrant letters was, ‘Welcome to Imagine Film Fest English Camp’.

I was ready to get the day rolling. The workbooks were all prepared. The game stations and all the activities I had planned were ready to go…until my co-teacher walked in.

Wow,” was the first words out of her mouth. “Willynn, they changed the room for camp. It’s in the 5th-grade classroom.” “What!?! Why?,” was my reply. “I don’t know they must have a special event. We must move quickly.” I breathed a sigh of slight annoyance, I guess. Not with my co-teacher but with the constant reminder of being flexible.

Make It Work For You

I rushed to get all my materials, erase my beautifully written vibrant white board to transition to a classroom that has an old fashioned  chalkboard. The English room at my country school is relatively big and modern.

The fifth-grade classroom was significantly small and ancient. So, what do you do when you’re put in situations you least expect? Somehow, someway make it work. Make the situation work for you and not against you.

Students started arriving, instead of them watching a frantic English teacher trying to ‘get her life together,’ I put them to work. I had my students help me arrange the desk the way I wanted.

I placed the activities and game stations in the back of the room. The chalkboard was lame so I didn’t even bother using it. The only good thing the 5th-grade classroom had going for it was a monitor and a computer for me to display my power points and other classroom materials.


I started class with animation in my voice and a bee headband. The morning was not what I expected it to be, but the day must still go on. It went on with much enthusiasm, determination and flexibility.

Monday ended and Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday quickly followed suit. I watched my students run around in our significantly small classroom. I watched them bellow in laughter at themselves, classmates and at times me.

I witnessed them using new English vocabulary in their speech. I challenged them, they challenged me. Together we filled the days of the week with much enthusiasm in all that we learned, did and created.

I’m extremely proud of my students. Camp was fun, enjoyable and timeless in many ways. But, I am glad tomorrow is finally the last day.

Special Event

Oh, yeah! How can I forget to mention that “special event” my country school possibly had that made them move English camp to another part of the school building, instead of staying in the English room where English camp belonged.

This “special event” was the Korean drum camp that only had 2 students! I had 18 energetic boys and only 2 calm students that happened to be girls. 20 students all together in a small 5th-grade classroom, because the drum teacher needed the big English classroom for 2 students.

Imagine my reaction when I witnessed only two students in the English room when I walked in to get something during my 20-minute break. My reaction, a deep sigh and a low key eye roll of annoyance. Life in Korea is all about being flexible.

Have you had experience with being flexible in the ESL classroom? Let us know how you managed it in the comments section below. 

picWillynn taught in the education field for three years. It was her curiosity and interest to see the world from a different perspective that lead her to Daejeon, South Korea. Willynn is currently working with young learners teaching English for EPIK in South Korea. In her free time, Willynn loves to go on adventures with her husband, Micah, engage in language exchanges at coffee shops with the locals in her community. As well as participate at Open Mic events across Daejeon and Seoul sharing her spoken word pieces. Follow Willynn on Youtube  or on WordPress.

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