Tuesday, 3 November, 2015
I recently taught two weeks of English classes which I’d rather not go in to detail about, as they were quite a mess. While I had some ideas about English teaching, they were quite limited, and I had no knowledge of my students’ levels and capabilities, or of classroom management. Certainly, I had received tips on classroom management, but it’s a different thing to apply them; and the greatest advice so far has been to create engaging lessons, so the need for management is reduced and the students are naturally interested. I had no practice in management or creating engaging lessons.
For week four, I finally got to attend the in-person portion of the teacher training which was supposed to be provided me. I had already done an online training, but it’s different to have a live teacher to ask questions of and receive personalized feedback. The training also provided an opportunity to practice, as all of the attendees had to perform a demonstration lesson with real students of English as our subjects.
The training was very important to me, though other attendees seemed less impressed. I suppose, besides the training, the time away from work was much needed. During this time, not only was I spending most of the day learning about teaching, I also had time to reflect on what did and didn’t work in the past few weeks, and on what course I wanted to take with my students.
For me the training provided a few very important methods toward teaching. One, the realization that we teachers create the content. However, many teachers before us have already created content which we can try, and ought to try, before diving into purely original creations (what is purely original anyway). Second, what do I consider to be a good teacher, and what are my goals as a teacher? These two questions can really drive lesson creation for me. I want to get to know my students, and I want to excite them. Third, is about process and instruction. This is all about being clear, and repeating things often, so that they students aren’t totally lost. This means building a scaffolding in individual classes and in the entire program (in my case, a year long relationship with my students). If you build on what the students know about language and class procedure, you can go further. If you introduce random new things, you are always stuck.
This is what I’m spending a lot of time working on now, as I plan my first new week of lessons. The last week was spent doing a fun lesson on Halloween, and practicing some new techniques; but, this next week will be a whole new game.