5 Good Teaching Habits

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. school-1223873

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:

 – Preparation

 – Flexibility

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

30 thoughts on “5 Good Teaching Habits

  1. Great post. A very good read. I’m preparing a post focussing on preparation, progression and the level of speaking activities. This post you ches on some of the points that I have Made and it is great to see that other language profesionals have some similar opinions. Keep the posts coming, they’re great to reflect on teaching strategies.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s great! Over the moon you’re enjoying the posts and find things in them you that echo your own thoughts 🙂

      And I’d really like to thank for the comments – I think a dream of most bloggers is to get comments on, and you’re really helping with that. Thank you again 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Great post Anthony, I think I should print it and stick it at the front of the file where I keep all my lesson plans. 😀
    I think some of these points are very had to work on because, as someone else said, they relate to your personality. And there’s nothing more difficult than changing your personality.
    I suppose that the key — as you pointed out before — is reflecting on your own teaching and constantly trying to mold and fine-tune your teaching to the learner’s needs.

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    1. Hi Giulia! Thank you for the comment and I’m glad you enjoyed reading it. You’re right, it does depend on your personality, but as you said, persevering and reflecting will help you to fine-tune and improve your teaching methods 🙂

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  3. Taking into account the interests of students is essential for good atmosphere in class. Teacher is a person who can arouse a desire for studying as well as turning it away. The tip #2 is so close to the truth. I particularly agree with the importance of listening. First of all, it is the easiest way to understand students’ needs. Moreover, students begin to trust a teacher. I would also add to this list one extra point – talking. Discussion let students think. For instance, when the cheating problem broke into our class, my teacher didn’t criticize us, quite the contrary she started to talk with us about the intellectual property rights, copyright law, plagiarism and the ways how to avoid it. She took the lead in introduction of plagiarism checker Unplag https://unplag.com/ in our college. Now, after every check, she discusses with us the results of report provided by checker. Everything is clear and fairy.

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  4. Nice points! Let me add one more thing: Establish a rapport (as martin told), in this way the learners have more opportunity to talk as their affective filter is descended. Moreover, the teacher-centered classroom will no longer exist since the teacher is seen as a more intelligible peer than a white board dictator.

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    1. That’s true but it’s hard to establish a rapport if the teacher doesn’t let the learners talk, doesn’t ask them questions, doesn’t listen to the learners etc in other words the points I make. I think these are more basic than rapport and they lead to good rapport

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Ýes, that’s true, however, you can think about it in the other direction. Imagine you try to let them talk and answer your questions, what if you receive no answer as they are unwilling to do so. Talking of their own stories regarding a subject is a personal thing for example, the teacher should pave the way to such stories through building rapport and a safe environment in that the teacher is also interested in listening to others.

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        1. That’s very true and I agree. I suppose my only worry then would be that a teacher could have very good rapport but still not be a good teacher, whereas a teacher who follows the 5 basic behaviours I described in the post will probably be more likely to be a better teacher, although they might not have the best rapport with their learners. I think rapport has to come second to good teaching and good teaching behaviour.

          Liked by 2 people

          1. Rapport is an amazingly fuzzy concept, isn’t it? I’ve heard many times that I’m good at building rapport but I have no idea how I’m doing it. My fellow trainees who got feedback about not building good rapport had no idea what they were doing wrong. I think if it doesn’t come naturally you should stop worrying about rapport and just focus on facilitating the most effective teaching process possible. It a nice-to-have but you can still be a good teacher without it while the things you’ve mentioned in your post are vital.

            Liked by 3 people

            1. Rapport is a tough one to nail down. Nati Brandi takes a keen interest in the topic and I think she might be able to provide a more structured definition of it. That aside, I would agree with you: if you aren’t good it, don’t worry about it – focus on the other things. In my first months of teaching, it was pointed out to me that I didn’t have a very good rapport with my learners. Strangely enough, at the same time I wasn’t also very good at listening to learners, allowing for questions and conducting effective feedback. I wonder if there was a connection….

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  5. Great job. Really you have the core of the core. From and l will try to take into account yours and advise my friends and parteners to do so.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Great job. Really you have the core of the corcore. From and l will try to take into account yours and advise my friends and parteners to do so.

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  7. Great post. I particularly agree with the point about teachers being flexible. I also think teachers need to constantly challenge their assumptions about learning. I think we teachers can get set in our ways and do the same things over and over again because it’s a habit/students like an activity/students expect a teacher to behave in a certain way. However, it is essential to consider what impact our teaching has on learning and how we might have to change our approach to support our learners.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Never a truer word said Clare. I have always tried to re-evaluate what I’m doing in the classroom in order to avoid getting stuck in habits, some potentially bad habits. Glad you enjoyed the post 🙂

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    1. That is really great to hear Tim! Thank you so much – getting the message in a clear nutshell is exactly what I wanted to achieve.

      I’d be ever so grateful if you spread and share the post, when you have a moment to.

      Thank you again 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  8. A wonderful post and something that I have learnt the hard way. I would recommend that humility and humour goes a long way as well.

    Another area I would recommend is breaking down the barriers between student and teacher is important also. I was teaching an upper intermediate Japanese learner (one-to-one) the other week and she was constantly asking questions about grammar and we looked at various things in a reading. She was not that happy with one point and was quite keen to look at why this was. In the end we covered a lot of ground. The next day, I entered our classroom and I said to her “I hope you don’t have any grammatical questions, I had a headache after our lesson and had to have a beer that evening.” She laughed and it also help her relax even more. In the end she had more advanced grammatical questions and we worked together to find the answers. I felt at that point that we were making improvements and covering grounds where teachers would not be that supportive with. I broke down the barriers and encouraged an environment of learning which was conducive for learning. So in a round about way, I would encourage any teacher that generating rapport with all learners is vital and also responding to questions as and when.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you for the comment Martin! I’m glad to hear you liked the post, and I couldn’t agree more – rapport building is very important. It took me a while to learnt the value of rapport and I learnt a lot about it and its effectiveness in the classroom from Nati Brandi (@natibrandi) who I would consider pretty much THE expert on rapport in the ELT classroom.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I love the fact that you brought up ‘Flexibility’, Anthony. I’ve seen teachers following lesson plans so blindly and ignoring wonderful unaticipated learning opportunities which could have been explored and benefited students enormously!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Taking those learning opportunities and making the most of them is very important and usually a sign of a good teacher. That’s why I like the Task-Teach-Task approach as it encourages the teacher to take hold of learning opportunities within a planned structure

      Liked by 1 person

  10. I agree with everything bar the chitchat. I think a lot of teachers need to curb it but it still has a place. Being appropriate in chitchat/small talk is something even some upper-intermediate learners struggle with.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree with the importance of chitchat, too. I just wanted to get across that for many teachers out there it is something which needs to be curbed a bit, but certainly not thrown out all together.

      Liked by 1 person

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