So you’ve just completed your CELTA or TEFL training and are excited (or nervous) about the prospect of getting into the classroom and putting your new skills to work. Congratulations, you are embarking on your career as an ESL teacher.
As with any career, it can be easy to get overwhelmed so we have broken down some of the most pressing points new teachers face and how to overcome them.
If you take only one thing from this article, let it be this: focus on creating engaging and fun lessons.
How to Prepare for Your First Courses
Preparation is a key part of your career. Knowing what, when, how and why is important but instead of looking at the syllabus for the year, I advise you focus on your classes, week by week, lesson by lesson, and make them the best learning experience you can; for your language students, and for yourself.
To help you out, we have compiled a general checklist of aspects to keep in mind:
Know what materials you will need: This includes having the right type of lesson plans, PDFs, Powerpoints, video and other materials that are needed in your class.
Create an agenda for the week: This can help you prepare material and lesson planning in advance to avoid last minute rushes.
Set up your classroom: Whether you are teaching inside a classroom or online, make sure the learning environment is ready so there is no confusion during the first few minutes of class or during activities.
Pro tip: If you're using technology, check it’s working beforehand and also have a backup incase things stop working!
What are the Best Ways to Keep Students Engaged in Class?
The key to keeping students engaged in class is to find out what each student wants and needs.
A few ways to do this are:
Create a poll or questionnaire for students to complete and share at the beginning of a new course.
Set up your activities so the learners are constantly active and communicating with their peers and with you.
Find out what their personal interests are, so you can tailor or theme your lessons to suit them as much as permittable.
Make classes dynamic using a range of stimulus, skills and high and low energy tasks.
How to Handle Difficult Students in the Classroom?
There are many different ways to handle difficult students in the classroom, depending on what comes up. The first step is to identify what kind of student you are dealing with. There are four different types of difficult students for example:
the disruptive student who disrupts the class and is disrespectful to other classmates
the disengaged student who does not participate in class activities
the unmotivated student who does not do his or her work
the ill-equipped student who is unprepared for a lesson or assignment.
After identifying which type of difficult student you are dealing with, you can reflect on the best course of action to take. In general, it suggested that you closely monitor potential-problem students and privately discuss any issues.
Open communication will be key to building trust and collaboration so be as supportive and patient as possible. As you acquire more experience, you’ll learn to step in sooner and more assertively.
How much time should be spent planning classes?
Planning for classes is an important task for teachers and at the beginning, can be painstakingly long. It’s normal to overthink tasks and material but remember, effective planning is supposed to save you time and enhance the quality of the class.
When done correctly, it can save a lot of time and energy during the semester but on the other hand, if planning is not done correctly, it can lead to a lot of stress and frustration.
Teachers should plan their classes according to their training and own methodology. Use your training, frameworks and templates as a guide but don’t be afraid to slowly adapt them and create your own process that works for you.
If you’re still taking hours to plan each class after several months, you need to set a timer and challenge yourself to constantly reduce your planning time.
There can be a lot to consider at the beginning but with time and experience, you’ll become more competent, more efficient and a better all-round teacher.
Focus on creating interactive, student-centred lessons and you’ll soon see and feel the progress.
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