As teachers and learners, we all expect different things from learning and teaching. Some learners expect language-heavy courses, full of grammar and with lots of teacher explanation. Others anticipate a more social learning approach, where they play with the language and acquire it through practice, practice and practice.
Whatever the style you take or whatever the style your learners expect you to take, there are some basic behaviours that all teachers should follow in the classroom. These go a long way to building an effective learning environment. Teachers come in all shapes and sizes and they vary greatly, but great teachers all share some common features i.e. the core basics of good teaching habits.
Whether you have been in teaching for five minutes or five years, reminding yourself of the core basics of good teaching is always a good refresher.
So, what are these top five teaching behaviours or habits? Keep reading to find out…
(1) Make it count
Adults, businessmen, Young Learners – all types of learners will take every word you say in the classroom seriously. They believe what you say is very important. This is why sometimes light-hearted chitchat can be quite difficult in the classroom – the learners are listening out for the important information from the knowledge-giver i.e. you.
This is something which is unlikely to change, so you need to be prepared for this. That is why it is important that you:
– Don’t talk too much
– Don’t fill the awkward silences
– Do get straight to the point
(2) Listen to them
Have you ever been in a classroom where the teacher is talking endlessly about a certain type of music, the history of the language, or politics? If you have, chances are you were in the presence of a teacher suffering from the Crown Effect.
This is where the teacher puts their interests above the interests of the learners. Sometimes it is hard for teachers to realise that what they find interesting might not interest their learners.
So, how can you best avoid this? Well, try some of these:
– Ask what interests your learners
– Listen to what topics they talk about among themselves
– Every time you go to speak about something that excites you, ask yourself: Is this interesting for my learners?
(3) Open to questions
The majority of learners have chosen to be in class. While there are those who are forced to be present due to their employer paying for the course or they are attending school classes, there are many who have opted to attend. This means a large number of your learners will be motived in some way shape or form to learn English.
It is that motivational drive which keeps them engaged with the Language Learning Process. Most will probably be doing extra work outside of the classroom, such as listening to radio broadcasts, watching TV series and practising their spoken English in cafés.
As a result, they probably have plenty of questions and queries about the language. You take advantage of this by doing this following:
– Put aside time in lessons for any language related questions
– Encourage learners to bring questions to class
– At the end of a language exercise, plan time for any clarification questions
(4) Let them talk
You know the language. You can speak the language. We all know the teacher knows the language. The learners, however, don’t know the language and they are there to improve their language skills.
This means they aren’t just there to be lectured at by the teacher, but to develop and practise what they have previously learnt and what they are currently learning. You can make the most of this fact by doing the following:
– Exploit every opportunity for the learners to talk
– When an individual asks a question, always give the whole class a chance to answer it first
– Plan a pair or group speaking stage in every lesson
(5) Plan and Flow
There are two things learners not only expect but demand from the teacher:
This is an important balance to strike, yet it isn’t an easy one. Turning up to the lesson and saying What do you want to today? will be seen as unprofessional and unplanned, even though your aim is probably to be as flexible as possible. On the other hand, running a lesson strictly to the plan will also be frustrating for the learners, as they will have questions and queries they would like to deal with as and when they crop up.
So, what is the solution to this? It is very simple:
Plan the lesson but be prepared to let it go