Teaching those first few classes can be either an exciting adventure or a horror trip. Yes, you can say that a part of it depends on pure luck deciding what class you get, but the atmosphere and productivity in class are still largely your doing. There are number of ways that you can control the situation in the classroom and make it more pleasant for all involved. Here are our top 5 tips:
1. Make a plan
The job of a teacher is not limited to the classroom. Just as it is for students, preparation is the key for the teachers of all subjects. It might seem boring or unnecessary to write down a detailed plan, but you will soon see that organising your class well before hand can help you to use the time efficiently. It will also show the students the effort you put in, so you can expect the same from them. Still, teaching is a job that actively involves children, so be prepared to improvise at times. The more prepared you are, the easier it is to improvise.
2. Make short breaks during the class
It is difficult to concentrate a full academic hour or longer, especially for children. Breaking the class in two parts, with a short break in between, can lead to better productivity. Don’t be afraid to lose three or five minutes. While it is not recommendable to let them loose, there are many different ‘brain-breaks’ that you can use. Brain breaks usually include movement and are the best thing to shift their focus from studying for a couple of minutes. Movement is important and students shouldn’t just sit for hour on end, listening to lectures. However, if you don’t feel comfortable with brain-breaks, you can give them some really fun and educational game to play in pairs or groups.
3. Give early finishers the task of helping others
Some people finish much earlier and then they get bored waiting for the others. This energy can disrupt the class, and moreover it can lead to a chitchat, which will make it harder for the rest to concentrate. A good way to deal with this is to give the people who finish earlier the task of helping their classmates. They can serve as their in-class private tutors. This can be very beneficial for all the students involved, because it improves not only the academics, but also the social relationships. People can learn to ask help from one another, to give it and to receive it. Unlikely friendships can also be formed.
4. Enjoy what you do
Students always notice when their teacher is not happy with their work, and this is reflected in their behaviour. If the class is not interesting to you, you can’t expect to gain their interest and attention. Be creative in finding methods and materials that work for both your students and you. Although you tailor the class to their needs, don’t forget that you are the one teaching it daily and should enjoy it as well. And don’t be afraid to show you enjoy it, either: smile or make a comment about it, it can only bring the mood up!
5. Don’t demand respect, earn it
Your students should respect you, of course. But the way to getting respect is not by demanding it though hierarchy, but by earning it. Listen to them and their reasoning; be fair in grading; praise them when they do well and give constructive criticism; never go back on your word and include a task you promised to leave out of the exam; show understanding if they come to you and ask to reschedule a test due to having three different ones that day… there are many, many
ways in which you can earn respect. Finally, it is good to think about the teachers that had your respect when you were a child, and to analyse to see what made you respect them. Think also about the teachers you despised and why. You will likely see a difference between the two in how that eared, that is, demanded, respect. When you have their respect, children are much more likely to behave in class and listen to you.