Goodbye 2017. It’s time to start a new year fresh! If you’ve been stuck in a teaching slump because of the busyness of the holidays, read on to learn how to become a better teacher in 2018.
Redefine Your Teaching Philosophy
Most teachers have explored their teaching philosophy at one point or another in their career. If it’s been awhile since you’ve done this, I suggest you redefine your philosophy as you may have learned a bit more about your personal teaching style in the time since you last defined your philosophy. To some, this may seem like a minor detail, but it can actually be quite helpful. Knowing and understanding your teaching philosophy will help inform how you conduct class. Also, if anyone ever asks, you will be confident in your answer. If you’re having trouble getting started, you can simply google “how to write a teaching philosophy” or “teaching philosophy statement examples” to find some information on the internet. Also, you can write a general philosophy on your teaching practices as well as philosophies on planning, student growth, management, homework, attendance, etc).
Get Your Planning System in Check
All teachers should have a planning system in check for lessons. If you don’t already have a system, get one! It will organize your life and make your teaching more intentional and effective. There are many ways that you can setup your plans, but you should use whatever is the quickest and works for you. Some ideas you may want to include are: notes, objectives, language targets, list of activities, and worksheets. For help check out:
An important thing to remember when setting up your planning system is to get a binder (or organize them in computer folders) to save for the future. As year pass and your lessons will become more developed.
Don’t Plan Too Much
It’s so easy to get carried away and plan way too much. We have all done this - in an effort to teach as many points as possible, you overplan and end up rushing through the entire class. The next thing you know class is over and you’re left feeling confused about what just happened. Instead of trying to fit every little thing into one lesson, break up one topic into smaller parts. Teaching should only be a small part of class. For the most part, you want your class to have adequate practice time, and instead of teaching, you should become a “coach.”
Let Students Teach
They say that the best way to learn something is to teach it. If some of your class isn’t understanding the material, strategically group students and allow those that understand to teach those that don’t. This is beneficial for both groups. Teaching reaffirms what they know and gives them more confidence. Learning from peers allows them to get instruction in a different perspective and level.
Don’t be Afraid of Assessments
Assessments are important and informative. The key here is that we don’t want to go overboard. There is a such thing as too much assessing, and the way you approach assessments can make all the difference in your students attitude towards them. Good teachers are constantly assessing everyday. Of course, most assessments are informal (the ones you witness, but do not have physical evidence of). With informal assessments, you can witness what students are doing in real time to guide the lesson to where it needs to be to meet your goal. Formal assessments (also known as pen-and-paper) give us actual evidence as to where students are and help us inform future instruction.
One trick is to make assessments an everyday normal part of class. As a teacher, you should let your students know that assessments are not a big deal, but as your teacher I need to know where you are so I can see how you’re growing and help you grow further. Without assessments, we are lost as to what our students need. Once you give a preassessment, you can continue to give the same assessment every few weeks, or months to continue showing progress.
Focus On Skills Growth, Not Levels
Levels are useful and helpful, but instead of getting caught up in advancing levels, focus on advancing skills. The most effective way to do this is with continuing assessments and progress updates. Share growth with your students, too. Doing so will help them learn to trust your teaching decisions, create mutual goals for teaching and learning, and continue growth at a good pace.
Respect Your Students
Respect goes a long way. When you respect your students, they’re more likely to respect you. A class dynamic of mutual respect is like no other. Classes with mutual respect allow for more effective learning and teaching. Here are some ideas for creating a respectful space: learn about their culture, ask them what they need help with, be open with them about their progress, help them set goals, ask them about their likes and dislikes, smile.
Practice Self Care
Take care of yourself outside of class so that you can show up ready to teach. Get enough rest, drink water, eat your vegetables. All those things that you should be doing anyway will really go far and give you the energy to be the best teacher you are capable of being. Don’t underestimate the power of self care.
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