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Attitude for a successful classroom!

There are many different types of teachers, one could go as far as to say that each teacher is unique in their teaching methods and styles.

 

And like every other “platform” in life, teachers also compare themselves to other teachers. 

 

Have you ever seen a teacher able to completely captivate their students and keep them happy and concentrating most of the time? 

 

(I say most of the time because let’s be realistic; children, teenagers and adults are all alike in the sense that they are human, and humans tend to differ in what they like and we get bored. Fast!) 

 

Now you have probably wondered what this teacher’s magic weapon is. How do they do it?

 

Well part of a successful classroom is the way the teacher composes themselves. Following is a few tips to remember if you would like a more captivated audience in your classroom.

 

     Be open and welcoming when they enter your classroom, Interact with your students on a personal level every day. Learn their names and use it often.

 

It is easy to fall into the habit of just sitting at your desk and busying yourself with whatever while you wait for your students to enter the classroom and take their seats.

 

But this distances you from them and allows them time to get distracted by their own little things like cellphones and talking to friends. 

 

This also means that they would start their lesson off more out of control and distracted and you will need an extra 5 minutes of you class time just to calm them down (mostly in the case of young learners).

 

Instead, you can use this 5 to 10 minutes before class starts to connect on a more personal level with your students. Greet them by name as they enter your classroom. 

 

Tip: If you are new and you do not know the students names, have them use name cards for the first couple of lessons until you remember the names. Remember to say their names as much as possible and look at their faces and notice little uniqueness’s about them. This helps me personally to remember names faster.

 

Ask them questions like what they did on the weekend or how they are. Once you get to know them it will become easier to ask them more personal questions. For example after some time you might know that their cat Tom has been ill and you can inquire after him. 

 

Doing this shows the students that you are invested in them and you do not just view them and the lesson as a means to a paycheck and that you do not wish to ‘just get it done’ as fast as possible.  

 

Students will like and respect you more and be more open to suggestions and listening to commands given in the classroom. 

 

     Use positive presence, don’t park yourself in front of the classroom. Move around the classroom and make eye contact with your students. 

 

 

Staying on “your side” of the classroom divides you from your students. It places an invisible barrier between you and them and it could seem like you are afraid of them (and students smell fear and prey on it!) 

 

When you are relaxed and walking through the class while teaching, the students are more aware of your presence and they know that you are more likely to see or hear them if they were to misbehave.

 

This way you can also ask questions to all students (specially the quiet ones that usually get missed) as you pass them. 

 

If you do that, students will know that at any moment you might call on them to answer a question and for fear of being caught unawares, they would be more on their toes and they would even listen more intently.

 

My experience: A while back I had to go teach Conversational English to a bunch of big university classes in China. The students were all between 18 and 20 years old. 

 

I was feeling out of sorts as this was a first for me. Standing on a platform in a humongous lecture hall trying to teach students who only (and barely) understood me if I enunciated, threw my voice and spoke very slowly and who would much rather have been in their dorm rooms napping. 

 

They were used to foreigners, coming to teach this class, who only stood on their little platform with their PowerPoint open and lecturing. I could tell very fast that they were more interested in what their friends had to say than I did. So I changed my tactic there and then. 

 

Part of the lesson was discussing, in small groups, one of a multitude of topics supplied by me. So I gave them 10 minutes to “discuss” and then I went into the throng! I listened to their discussions, and reminded a few that it was in fact an English lesson, and it was to be discussed in English. After the 10 minutes was up, I randomly chose many students to stand up and tell me the conclusions that they had reached. 

 

Many were clearly afraid of speaking their little broken English in front of their peers, but I reminded them that there was nothing to be ashamed off as everyone in the room was scared of the same thing and that they were already better than me in their second language as my Chinese was terrible and that I would not judge them. That and a few jokes put them at ease and I soon had most of the students say at least one sentence standing up in front of everyone.

 

The point that I am trying to make with this story is that the moment I left my platform and showed them that I cared what they had to say and that I actually wanted them to participate in this class, they sat up straighter, put down their phones and listened more intently.

 

The classes was so successful that I was offered a permanent position which sadly I had to decline due to other responsibilities.

 

     Model the behavior you want your students to produce. If you exhibit respectfulness, enthusiasm, interest and courtesy in your everyday dealings, your students will return the favor in kind.

 

There will always be a day where your personal life is not going too greatly and you have some stress to deal with. You might be in class brooding over something when young happy students’ walks in talking and laughing and you might just snap at them, tell them to sit down and be quiet. 

 

Even if you do not snap, students can pick up on a vibe you put out. Your subconscious body and facial language, the tone of your voice. 

 

This affects the overall success of that day’s lesson and also the way that these students will view you in lessons to come.

 

When you are in a bad mood the students might not be as enthusiastic to participate, they could be scared of a possible over reaction if they do not succeed on first attempt and many other negative aspects.

 

Now, it is unrealistic to say never have a bad day. Life happens. What you could do however is leave your personal life outside of your classroom door! 

 

When you walk into a classroom think of your students and what you look and sound like to them. Think of how your behavior affects them and change accordingly to better yourself.

 

Young students, especially, are like sponges. They pick up on all kinds of ques whether it be the content you’re teaching or the mood you’re in.

 

If you are excited and enthusiastic, they will follow suit. If you are strict but kind they will learn where the lines are drawn and you will find your classroom much more controllable. If you are in a ‘no care’ mood, they will not care either and you will find it harder to control them.

 

Last but not least:

Remember, “Values are caught, not taught.”

 

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