Teachers are the head of a classroom, and with that responsibility comes a certain amount of authority. Remember that all teachers have bad days and make mistakes.
This list of 10 things never to do in the classroom is to help you avoid those missteps and get you back on track if you slip.
10 Things You Should N-E-V-E-R Do in the Classroom
Lose Your Temper
Losing your temper in any classroom can be disastrous. This especially applies in Asia where showing strong negative emotion is one of the worst things you can do. All teachers have bad days, get irritated with students, and struggle to maintain composure at one time or another. You really do not want to lose your temper so that you end up shouting, yelling, or crying. If you feel yourself getting angry it might be a good idea to step out of the room or remove yourself from the situation and count to one thousand.
One thing you will never gain back if you lose it is control. Don’t let the students in any class walk all over you, take control of your lesson, or get unruly in any way. Sometimes student might become overly-excited or obnoxiously loud during an activity, and you need to be able to bring them back down. Students need to respect you, and if you are too passive and don’t have boundaries you are bound to lose control at some point. One great strategy that works with both kids and adults is to create a signal that when they see it, they know they are expected to do the same thing, and get quiet. Some popular options are: raising your hand, clapping if it isn’t too noisy already, or waving. It is a domino effect when you reach a few students, the rest will follow and you will regain control.
Go Crazy with Handouts
Too much paper is just not a good idea. Temper handouts with activities that involve students and don’t just keep them sitting idly by doing boring rote work and trying to weed through your ten-page grammar explanation. Use the board, interact with students and never rely on paper to do your job!
You’d be surprised how many teachers bring their lunch into the classroom! This is just not appropriate with any level or any age. Drinking a morning cup of coffee or bringing in donuts or snacks for the group is one thing, but don’t eat your afternoon meal while class is in session.
Get Overly Involved
Depending on your circumstances, it can become pretty easy to become overly emotionally involved with your students. Because you are teaching a language, you may learn a lot about students during the class, and you may even need to extend some help to them outside of the classroom. Be careful to have boundaries for yourself and don’t get too caught up in students’ problems. Also be wary of creating personal relationships outside of the class. This can easily happen when teaching adults, just be sure it doesn’t interfere with the classroom dynamic.
Make Fun of Students
It may seem obvious that you shouldn’t ever mock or make fun of students, but sometimes what seems to be a harmless joke or comment can wound a student’s confidence and self-esteem. It is a great talent to be able to use humor in the classroom and also show students how to laugh at themselves. Just be careful that your jokes or sarcasm aren’t aimed at particular students in a personally harmful way.
Sitting down through an entire class is just not appropriate. In Asia, for example, the teacher is expected to stand or walk around throughout the whole classroom period. Sitting down for too long delivers a message of laziness, unless you are injured or ill. When in the classroom it is a time to interact, to circulate and to lead the students. You also don’t want your students always sitting down and not moving around. Give them the opportunity to mingle around, stand at the board, or do group work away from their chairs.
Being late is a big problem in many countries and for many nationalities of students. It is very important to model the behavior you want from students. Being late very occasionally or sometimes coming in a few moments late is not a problem. It’s when you are chronically late that you show the students it is acceptable for them to be late as well. Be as punctual as you possibly can, and when you are late be sure to apologize to students.
Only Follow the Book
Sometimes teachers fall into the trap of teaching everything directly from the textbook. This is not only boring and tedious; it is doing your students a disservice. Because they are learning a language, students need a lot of opportunities to practice and to experiment with their new skills. If you only focus on what the book dictates, the students will miss a lot.
A textbook is a guide and can provide ideas about the order of topics and the structure to follow. Be sure that you are connecting your activities to the book, but not solely doing everything from that one source.
All students in the class need to get your attention and your direction. It is okay to have your favorite students as long as you don’t give them concessions that you don’t provide to anyone else. It is only natural to hit it off with certain students, just be sure that you are fair to all the students in your class and give everyone adequate consideration and praise.
We’ve probably all met teachers that have done at least one of the items on this list.
Look at your own style and be confident that you won’t ever perform any of the ten things on this list.