Happy new year and welcome back to the TEFL Express blog. Personally, it’s been quite a productive year of teaching, but often I get so caught up in my busy schedule week to week that I don’t take the time to reflect on the big picture. Recently, I’ve had a bit of time off and would like to share my top ten teaching resolutions for 2017.
Or, if you’d just like a twenty-minute new year’s resolution activity to try with your students, please click on the button below to get access to the resource. It’s free.
- Create more opportunities for student to student interaction.
I talk a lot about this idea in this blog, but I still have classes from time to time that are a little too heavy on teacher talking time. To correct this, I will make sure to quickly go through my lesson plan and make note of the interactions. If there aren’t enough student to student activities, I will shuffle things around.
- Better record keeping
No matter how much I try to instill the importance of this on the teachers at my school, I still occasionally forget to take attendance or fill in the pacing schedule. I know it’s important because, as a manager, I see behind the curtains. This is how test schedules are created. This is how administrative staff know whether to call a student or their parents to check if they are planning to continue in the class. This is how a cover teacher knows what to teach.
Beyond the basics, I would also like to keep better track of new activities, created resources and students progress in a way that is easily accessible to me and other people who would benefit from this. I hate paperwork…but it’s necessary.
- Share more with fellow teachers
I’m a big believer in collaboration. In fact, my Trinity FTCL dissertation was largely based on this idea. From time to time I will post new activities up in the teacher’s room and I always try to make myself available to fellow teachers who need some ideas. That said, I think I, and probably most of us if we are honest, could do more. In a digital age, it doesn’t take much effort at all to put a created activity or worksheet into a shared folder or network.
In fact, my resolution for 2017 is to make my lesson plans available for all the teachers at my school. We could even come up with a system, using Google docs, of improving on these lesson plans as they are used and adapted. There’s no use recreating the wheel…or any teacher wracking their brains trying to think of games to play regarding a YL lesson on colors.
- Empathy towards students
In general, I think I’m pretty good at reading my students and gauging whether they are engaged in an activity and understanding new language/concepts. However, I don’t always take into account other factors that are affecting their learning. For instance, problems at home, testing times at their regular schools, the weather, etc. I’m going to make a concerted effort in 2017 to, when students are behaving differently than normal, find out why (when possible) and be more understanding.
I will also continue my ongoing mission to try to find out what they (a.k.a “kids these days”) are interested in, in order to make my lessons relevant to them. I will, instead of guessing and being that out of touch teacher, do this by asking them directly and listening.
- Make students more aware of their progress
In my opinion, the most important part of testing and other assessment is so that students have tangible evidence as to what they’ve learned. However, I rarely take the next logical step which is to compare test results with those in the past. Naturally, especially younger students, instantly compare their grades with those of their peers. What they should be doing, with the teacher facilitating, is to compare their grades with past grades and make that the goal for improvement.
- Praise students’ achievements
Along with making students aware of their progress, both on tests as well as language in general, I will try harder in 2017 to praise students’ achievements. I will try to recognize when a student: has put a lot of effort into a project, starts doing their homework more regularly, works in a group more effectively, stops making a consistent mistake or does anything in the classroom that was out of their comfort zone. I will try to take the time in class to recognize these achievements. I’m thinking about making some sort of badge system where students can earn a badge for different types of achievements.
- Read more
Every teacher can benefit from more professional development and reading more from experts in their field. Like many other teachers though, I don’t make this a consistent part of my life. My aim for this year is to set aside some time each week at the office to read books about different aspects of English teaching. This will save me from being too insular with my ideas and to develop more as a teacher.
- Focus on pronunciation
I’ve got quite a few tricks up my sleeve for teaching pronunciation and, in general, I think that I do a pretty good job of identifying pronunciation mistakes that my students make. Depending on the phase of the lesson, I either correct the student immediately, allow them to self correct or make note of it for the group as a whole to correct later on. What I’d like to do more this year is to keep track of pronunciation errors that are consistently made and make special activities later on to deal with those problems directly.
Beyond following a fairly standard curriculum for pronunciation teaching, I sometimes merely work on pronunciation issues that I think my students are having or will have. By keeping a special book of mistakes (both pronunciation and grammatical errors) I will be able to better direct my teaching.
- Not to let technology, or the lack there of, interfere
I am a firm believer that a high-tech classroom is NOT necessary for TEFL teaching. In fact, more often than not, I’ve seen it get in the way of teaching as students become more focused on the tech than the lesson. That said, thanks to advances in the internet, there are a lot of things that I’ve been able to do in my classroom that simply would not have been possible fifteen years ago.
So, for me at least, 2017 is going to be a year where I will guardedly try out new tech to help my students learn. I will consistently ask myself the question of whether using the technology helped or got in the way. I will definitely be posting about teaching tech in 2017. Keep an eye out.
- More fun in the classroom
I’d like to think that my classrooms are pretty fun places to be (I’m sure we all would). I’m going to make sure that this is the case by periodically giving surveys to my students to see what parts of the lessons, and what games, they enjoy. Also, and perhaps more importantly, I’m going to make sure that I have fun in the classroom. I truly believe that is where a good lesson starts.
If you have any of your own resolutions that you’d like to share, don’t be shy. I’m sure others would benefit from considering the same things. If you’d like a twenty-minute new year’s resolution activity that you can use in your classrooms, you can gain access to one I’m using this weekend by clicking on the button below.