Today’s technology enables us to conquer an all- new different platform for teaching. Say goodbye to the world of blackboards, chalks and erasers. Make way for Skype, QQ, Hangouts, WizIQ and more of them to come. These applications undoubtedly raised the bar for learning and teaching.
But how can we be truly be good in this craft? Have the fundamentals of teaching grown antiquated in the advent of the internet? In my several years of experience teaching online, I have always kept these in the tips of fingers.
1. Establish a Homey Atmosphere
In this day and age, we don’t have a room anymore for a stiff learning environment. Learning English can be rigorous and tough but it can always be taught in a way less infuriating.
Set the mood for a casual talk for around a couple minutes just to start the wheels of conversation turning. This way, your students would feel that you’re interested to know how their day went or how is it going so far.
Don’t commence the lesson without a smile on your face. A smile may just be as simple as it is but it can do a lot. It is a reassurance of sincerity and commitment.
2. Be Extra Patient and Understanding
Our students may not always be in their best mood while taking the classes. While they have the liberty to do so, we can’t. Remember our rule of thumb. If there is anyone who should adjust to a seemingly difficult situation, it has to be us.
Some students can sound so unenthusiastic you just want to hang up. Some are good at intimidating teachers while others can have an overflowing interest but just could not talk. These situations leave us bored, cold and sleepy.
Every time I get caught in the middle of these classes, I think of them as added experiences to my years of teaching. They may be mean and cold but we’ve got to control our inner balloon from bursting.
3. Go the Extra Mile
Live beyond students’ expectations. Be proactive and don’t stick with what’s at hand for the day’s class. Find out some ways you can adapt in order to make the class more lively and productive.
While on it’s face a short quiz may sound undesirable it is actually rewarding. Students feel good at the thought of having answered your questions.
Have the students listen to videos, audio and provide other materials to complement what you have. Give tasks, assignments and even short quizzes to measure milestones.
4. Provide Tailor-fit Classes
For adult students in particular, consult them on how to better carry their classes. Know their specific goals in English so you can better craft the lesson plan that suits their needs. Should it be challenging to create a lesson plan for a 1-month course, you may make use of available textbooks to be supplemented by other materials.
In conducting your classes, give emphasis on problem areas. For instance, if you got only a reading textbook and the student is already good at it, you may still use the textbook but don’t focus on reading too much.
You may ask questions related to the material to elicit more opinions from the student if the problem area is speaking. With the power of the internet all around, there is no way you can`t carry your classes the best way possible.
5. Listen More than Talk
No one beats a good listener. There is always that deep longing in each of us to be listened to. Reducing the TTT (Teacher Talk Time) will provide more chances for the students to speak out their minds. At the same time, it transforms the class into a genuine communicative activity where ideas of the students simply flow.
One very important strategy for teachers to reduce TTT is to rephrase questions. Rather than asking lengthy and confusing ones, use simple and direct questions.
Use elicitation instead of explanation. Providing clear and concrete examples to students gives way to “learning by discovery”. The student’s current proficiency level needs to considered in using this technique.
Give silence a chance. The student’s inability to immediately respond should not be equated with lack of understanding. More often than not, this silence means “mind processing”. Providing clues or repeating questions may be counterproductive.
6. Establish Authority but Never Boast
You are the teacher and you control how the class is going to be like for the next few minutes.
The teacher should set rules the students should follow and observe. However, this should not give teachers the right to feel like they are floating up in the air. This would only put a distance between you and your students.
Let your classes speak of who you are as a teacher. Most importantly, let your students do the boasting for you.
7. Give A Sincere and Hearty Approbation
Truly, any person with a sane mind can obviously weed out words of flattery from sincerity. A remarkable work always deserves a thumbs- up.
Don’t put a bar on the number of times you praise the student for a job well done as long as warranted. From time to time, everybody needs a pat on the back.
Indeed, there are a hundred ways to kill a cat. The more you are exposed to teaching, the more you discover different approaches in handling your classes. The fundamentals haven’t changed much though obviously adjustments are necessary.
I hate to say this but I have to. Let your students fall for you. Surely, you can’t please everyone but for those you can, make them. Only when they do love you as their teacher will you able to keep these students for life.