I teach mainly working adults at a private ELF institution and some of my classroom management strategies are:
I try to create an inclusive classroom.
I try to engage in experiential activities.
I’m re-committing to the process of joy and stimulating my students’ minds.
How do I implement these strategies? At any given time throughout the year, I may have students from all walks of life in the same classroom. I could easily have a police officer, a taxi driver, a manager, a housewife, a rich teenage boy, a shy teenage girl, an outspoken working female, an air force pilot, a VIP from the government, etc, and I believe each of these students deserves the same amount of respect and attention. Sometimes, I make it a point of not knowing what each of my students does for a living, since this could predispose me towards them. I have everyone work with everyone (besides girls with guys because I teach in a Muslim country). Because of their culture and traditions, most of the students that come in to my class behave like nice brothers and sisters, so I almost never have a problem with students not liking each other, being rude, arguments, etc. I’ve had students in my class who show signs of dyslexia, ADD, stutters, etc, and they’ve all been welcomed and treated exactly the same way by my students and myself. As I teach EFL, experiential activities are a must in my curriculum. I try to engage students whenever possible in field trips, role-plays, research projects, etc, in order for them to apply the knowledge being shared in class. While learning English, experience with the language is a must. I would probably love teaching ESL and not EFL because of the immense range of immediate real-life applications to my lessons. I’m also re-committing to the process of joy in my lessons. If when entering the classroom I show joy and excitement, this kind of sticks to my students; I have seen how this really works in the past three weeks with two of my classes. I do try to give my students stimulating material outside the outlined curriculum in the form of additional reading, educational videos, etc.
How do they help my class be better? These strategies help my class to be a much better learning environment. Including everyone and making it positive, encourages students to keep coming back for more. Practicing their English in real or almost real-life situations, allows students to put their new acquired knowledge in to practice and get a sense of accomplishment. Students, whose brains are constantly stimulated with interesting food-for-thought material, seem more motivated and active in class.
Do they help me support and engage my students? YES
Have I created an optimal learning environment? I’m in the process of accomplishing this and even though I’ve been teaching for over 14 years, I still think I have a long way to go before I can say I have the optimal learning environment. This is mainly because we’re all humans; we make mistakes and wake up on the wrong side of the bed many days. I juggle teaching, with family life, personal problems, motherhood, etc, and at any given time I may we down, sad, bored, angry and this prevents me from being all that I can be in my class. I can’t say I’m the greatest, most creative, perfect teacher but I take it a day at a time and try my best.
What’s scaffolding and how is it valuable? Scaffolding is a group of strategies, geared towards supporting learning when you first introduce a subject. Scaffolding gives your students a context from where to begin, like a foundation. It gives students motivation to understand all the new information being presented by you.
How do we implement scaffolding? We can implement scaffolding by activating prior knowledge through readings, videos, or conversation; by breaking a difficult task into smaller, more manageable ones, consequently having students not feel overwhelmed; by showing students examples of you expect from their work. (I.e. if you want them to write about a famous person, give them an outline, show them how you’d like the format to be, words they can use, etc.)
Choose two or three intelligences from Howard Gardner's list of multiple intelligences and design a learning activity for a specific lesson. Then discuss potential assessment strategies for your activities.
I've done this activity before and it's very successful with those students who enjoy music. I find a song that has many/most of the verbs in the simple past. (This activity could be used as a review of regular and irregular verbs) I white-out all the verbs, so as they listen, students must fill in the missing word. Students will probably have to listen to the song 2 or 3 times and while doing their task, they actually get to enjoy a nice piece of music. At the end of the class, students will have learned the song and reviewed regular and irregualr verbs.
Assess if sutudents actually understand the meaning of the verbs, by asking questions related to the ideas in the song.
A debate is one of my favorites. This is a great activity if you have very outspoken students who enjoy listening and discussing different issues with other poeple; a great exercise for talkative students. My topic for this lesson will be Home-Schooling Vs Traditional education. Students divide themselves into 2 teams and the teacher assigns whether they're in favor or against. Encourage students to give names to their teams, such as football teams, for example. Each team must choose a delegate to speak, and this delegate should be changed everytime a new cue is given by the teacher.
Some example cues are:
1. Home-Schooled kids are less sociable.
2. Traditional schooling promotes unhealthy competition.
3. Home-Schooling is the way to go if you have disabled children.
4. Traditional schools helps children develop independence from parents.
Give students time to discuss each point as a team and then give each delagate a minute or so to explain his/her team's point of view. In this case, the teacher is the referee, so he/she decides who wins each point.
If the debate becomes heated, I say, LET IT!! at least for a few seconds. It's awsome to see students engaged in true discussion and trying to use their English to communicate REAL ideas.
A way to assess if students understood the point of the debate would be, to ask students to write a short paragraph, in which they give their opinion reagarding the winner of the debate, and if and why they deserved to win.
Suggest practical ways to implement key aspects of Constructivism in your classroom. As teacher leader, how would you support classroom teachers to ensure that their classrooms become more constructivists?
If learning is an active process, then students should not be allowed, at any point or time during the lesson, to ‘vegetate’. This is a term many of my colleagues and I use when referring to the very passive attitude of many of our students. If today you’ve planned to teach new vocabulary; engage students by giving them the words in sentences and letting them read through and decide if they can guess the meaning by context. If it is very low-level class use pictures to retrieve any previous knowledge. Through these activities, the learner isn’t simply sitting there and waiting for the teacher to give out meaning and explain, but playing a more active role in the lesson.
In EFL, many students come to us because they want to be able to communicate socially in English; therefore conversations and interaction with others are an integral part of learning, since, these are things many students are looking forward to doing independently at the end of their course. I encourage pair-work and group work in my class, since I believe my students can learn from one another, as much as they can learn from me. I usually face resistance because many of my students come from a very traditional educational system, however I keep at it and many of them come around by the end of the course. I must say others don’t since they are very set in the way they’ve learned their entire life.
If your classes are boring and dull, than your students won’t be very motivated to come, participate or learn! I think we need to make our classes fun and fast-paced. I’ve discussed this particular point with many colleagues and the conclusion is: “…but we aren’t entertainers or clowns…, if they’re here they should work hard and study without me having to stand on my head…”and I guess I agree with that to a certain extent, but I also believe we should make their learning experience a pleasant and interesting one. Every once in a while, watch a video, have students work on a group project, play a game, cut out pictures from a magazine. Analyze the kind of people you have in your class and prepare accordingly.
The section on Learning Styles states that “teachers should design their instruction methods to connect with all four learning styles.” Discuss how this could be done in your subject area by giving specific examples that correspond to each of the learning styles.
Concrete and abstract perceivers.
Concrete perceivers: In EFL, students can do role-plays, theater plays, field-trips, hands-on activities like making posters, videos, art projects related to content taught in class.
Abstract perceivers: Students can do a lot of reading, watch educational films, do book reports, do pair and group work to solve grammar and vocabulary worksheets, writing based of readings done in class or investigative projects.
Active processors: students can read a conversation and immediately role-play it, watch a video and immediately create a fact sheet of the information given.
Reflective processor: give students time to review the lesson and come back the next day with a set of questions. Give students a few days to write a paragraph related to what was learned in class. For lower-level students, give students time to process concepts and then review them in class at a later date.
Less is more. My suggestions to less experience teachers would be that, pair and group work are wonderful activities when you’re trying hard to not be the center of attention . This is my magic pill for disappearing…once my students are engaged in conversation, practicing their English and so on; I become this shadow overlooking, listening, but in a very passive way. I love it!! I love being invisible to my students at times.
Give students the opportunity to teach. I have done this quite a few times and it usually works out pretty well. Assign a topic for each student a week or so in advance and schedule each one to present. If a student prepares well, it can boost his/her self-esteem. If the student hasn’t done sufficient preparation, I would suggest waiting until they feel comfortable enough with the material.
I can confidently say that in my classroom, I encourage collaboration in every single lesson. However, it’s a tough sell, since many of my students come from a very old-fashioned educational system. In this system, their main role is to sit, listen and copy. Learning from peers seems not to be very encouraged and I face more than 50% resistance every time I suggest students to work with a partner, or as a group. It seems the concept is very foreign to them. Nevertheless I keep on trying. I believe collaboration in the classroom is fundamental in language learning.
I’ve also had the opportunity to practice originality in my lessons, especially with children and teenagers. I have taken students on field trips where they have the opportunity to explore the real-world and its possibilities. I’m very interested in taking teens to places that can inspire them with regards to their future professional paths. Some of these places are the Air traffic control center at our international airport and a local radio station studio where they’ve been able to experience firsthand the responsibilities of the jobs.
I do encourage students to discover on their own, but it is a challenge since the majority of the time, they expect me to do most of the thinking. I believe this is one of the areas where I can never give up. This is the characteristic I believe, is quite difficult to implement in my class, and a way of overcoming this challenge would be to provide more opportunities in which, students are forced to discover, rather than passively wait for things to be uncovered. Good examples of this would be class projects in which days and weeks are allotted to students in order to collect data and prepare presentations.
I’m a 32-year old woman who is a 100% dreamer! I guess that’s what gets me through tough times. I don’t believe in being a hypocrite or double-faced. I always stand up for what I believe in even if it means conflict! I’m usually hard-working and like to take on new challenges. I love new experiences. I’m not good with monotony. Being a teacher means that I can share the little knowledge I have with others and I can be part of my students’ paths towards their professional and/or personal fulfillment. I live in a Muslim, very traditional, very rich Sultanate. I teach mostly locals from children to adults and it has been a wonderful but challenging experience. Coming from a Latin American culture which is completely open-minded, I encountered very traditional, Muslim students and the things that had worked previously in my classroom didn’t really anymore! That was a challenge! After years of having the same approach to teaching, I had to re-organize my brain and think hard as to how I was going to teach students that, for example, do not like to mingle with the opposite sex! So, mingling activities to promote conversation in the classroom were out of the picture. Just like this, I have faced many other challenges in my classroom; some of which are a bit more complex and I have yet managed to find a solution to. However, this experience has given me the opportunity to learn about a completely different culture and I have probably become a more tolerant person because of it. I have experienced a different kind of respect and admiration from my students which I’m grateful for. I’d like to continue growing as an educator; I’d like to become that teacher students will remember years later because of her excellent delivery, knowledge and genuine interest in them. I’d like to be supported from fellow educators in regards to teaching methods in general, and I can support fellow educators in the same regard.
I look forward to learning from you all and sharing a wonderful learning experience.