Teaching Material | Teaching English Better

New to the classroom? Here are some tips that will help you evolve as a teacher

As a novice teacher you are full of dreams. You have the knowledge and command of the language and you know that you can disseminate information. But theory is often worlds apart from the real world. Walking into a classroom full of children for the first time can often be a stressful experience. Here are some tips that will help you ease your way into the world of teaching.

The Lesson Plan is your friend

Being prepared will definitely help you plan your lesson constructively. Lessons that are well planned are more likely to help your students and yourself. It will avoid frustrations and unpleasant surprises and allow you to stay on track and achieve your objectives. A lesson will not always go according to plan but a well-defined plan is important as it prevents unnecessary problems from occurring.

Ask for help

If you work at a language school then you will have plenty support from the owner and other teachers, as long as you ask. Nobody expects from a novice teacher to be perfect or inspire a class like Robin Williams in “Dead poets society”. Ask other teachers for teaching tips or details about your students if they have taught them in the past. You can also consult the owner of the school or the director of studies on how they want a lesson to be. 
If you start off with private lessons you can ask fellow teachers for advice. You can even join all those Facebook groups for teachers and get tons of advice from other teachers.

Mistakes are unavoidable

We all make mistakes and so will you. Don't worry about it. You'll not only survive them, you'll learn from them and if you reflect on them honestly, you'll become a better teacher. Learn from them and try to avoid them in the future. Mistakes are a natural part of learning. If you never make mistakes, you're not trying hard enough or taking necessary risks to become the teacher you deserve to be.

Be friendly but not a friend

You want your students to like you and therefore hesitate to discipline students accordingly. This is probably the most common mistake new teachers make. Believe it or not, students want boundaries. Let students know immediately what your rules or guidelines are and what the consequences are. Then, enforce them fairly, firmly, and consistently. Many beginning teachers fall into the trap of becoming overly relaxed with students. You can however be open to students while still maintaining a position of authority. Regardless of age or gender, in order to maintain control of the class and to keep students focused on learning, you have to be mindful of your role as leader.

Have a clear set of rules or guidelines

This should be one of your first priorities. Create (or allow your students to create) a set of classroom rules or behavior expectations. Post these in the room. At the beginning of the year, go over each rule or expectation with your students. Give students examples and non-examples of following the rules. Make sure students know what the consequences are for not following the rules. Remember to be firm, fair, and consistent when enforcing the rules.

Do not talk 

Students are in your classroom to learn to speak English and not to listen to you speak English. You are not doing it on purpose of course but because all of us feel uncomfortable around silence or long pauses, or because you are over-enthusiastic to share your knowledge. 
As a general rule of thumb, students should speak for 70% of the class time, while teachers speak for the remaining 30%. These percentages could be tweaked in cases where students are absolute beginners (50-50), or at the other end of the spectrum, very advanced learners in need of intensive speaking practice (90-10). This means that in most cases, your participation should be limited to giving instructions and explaining essential points, but above all to eliciting response from students and facilitating all types of speaking activities.

Only follow the book

Sometimes teachers follow into the trap of teaching everything directly for the coursebook. This is not only boring but also counterproductive. Because they are learning a language, students need a lot of opportunities to practice and experiment with their new skills. A coursebook is a guide and can provide many ideas about the order of topics and the structure to follow. Be sure that you are connecting your activities to the book but do not do everything from there.