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How a teacher should approach a class. Some tips from my experience

It is often said that “good teachers are born, not made”, that some people have a natural affinity for the job instead of others, perhaps, who do not have what appears to be a natural gift but who are still effective and popular teachers. In this article I want to introduce some tips about what it can be necessary for effective teaching and how that can help to provoke success- so that both students and teachers learning English can be rewarding and enjoyable.

The teacher’s rapport with the class as a whole should be positive and respectful. Students have different reasons for why they are learning English, so the teacher must help them to sustain their motivation by promoting interaction, giving them support and understanding their needs.
The importance of knowing the names of students is the basis to create a good rapport and a comfortable atmosphere in the class. That’s why most of the engaging activities are focused on how to introduce themselves.

Using their names is a good way to establish a genuine rapport, not only between teacher and students but, above all, among students.
Although students put name cards on the desk in front of them, the teacher should try to name them without looking at the cards.
During class, a good practice to memorize names for the teacher would be to involve the whole class when drilling words for a few times and then, using students’ names, let them repeat words individually.

It is certain that if students are called by their name they feel more esteemed by the teacher, consequentially they react very well to the teacher’s interaction methods.
The high five, the so-called “Batti Cinque” is one of the methods of encouragement and motivation when students answer correctly.

The teacher should keep eye contact with students as much as possible, and assume the role of prompters, involving and encouraging them to achieve more. For example, by using CCQs* (concept checking questions asked by the teacher to gain a more accurate evaluation of the student’s understanding), the teacher increases the interaction with individual learners.

The teacher’s physical position and movements are fundamental when teaching:
It is recommended that the teacher stands in front of the students when giving them task instructions, constantly keeping eye contact and trying to involve them during explanations.
It is often practised by the teacher when explaining the meaning of the words; for example, when you ask students the antonym of hot (cold) and mime with gestures.
Facial signals are also used to help students understand how to pronounce a word.
For example, when helping Italians to pronounce the English voiceless dental fricative /θ/ (thing).

During different activities when students work in pairs, the teacher can walk around them to check and be sure they interact with each other, or just to see if they may need help. Although most of the time is dedicated to students speaking, the teacher can observe on the side of the whiteboard monitoring them from the outside. This allows students to express themselves and interact with each other.

Every stage of a lesson has to be fluent. The teacher monitors the time for each stage even the class may start late.
When giving instructions, the teacher’s tone of voice is different while explaining grammar or during regular conversations.
In the first situation, the volume is loud, and the teacher tries to speak to students slowly and clearly. In the second context, the teacher keeps explaining the grammar rules clearly, but the tone of voice is quiet.

Based on students’ level, the teacher uses appropriate language and a specific topic that allows them to understand what the teacher wants to explain.
The way of explaining what task or activity to do should be straightforward. The teacher always double-checks with questions if students understand what has been explained.
The horseshoes class arrangement helps both students and teachers. This allows them to create an intimate place where constant eye contact and body language is clear enough for students to understand the teacher’s instructions.

The teacher should minimise the TTT (teacher talking time) and maximise the SST (student talking time).
All stages have to give students the chance to practise their speaking and writing skills to improve them.

When students work in pairs or are divided into teams, the teacher could switch seats more than once, to separate students who speak the same language and to help those with difficulties by putting them close to students who could support them.

The best tip to succeed in your lesson aim is to be organised:
Especially when you teach vocabulary and need to write words on the whiteboard, having clear handwriting on the board helps the teacher organise the lesson and consequently also students understand the concepts better.

Written by
Roberta Muratore – JUMP Team