What I learned at school…

Matt | Teach English in China | Tuesday, October 5th, 2010

Recently, I decided to make a few life changes – got married, moved back to Canada (for now), and went back to school – and they all have provided me with great learning (and terror) opportunities.  For now, I’d like to touch on what I learned at school…so far.  At teachers’ college the things they are focusing on are the same as what my first ESL teaching mentor, Nancy, taught me before going to China:

1) Get to know your students, and

2) Make it fun so they don’t realize they’re learning

Now I don’t know if I should be surprised that Nancy’s advice matched closely with what they are teaching at school.  But it shows me a little more into why she is such a successful teacher.

Get to know your students

Know what they like and dislike.  What is motivating to them?   What else is going on in their lives that could be influencing how they are acting in your classroom?  (and yes, for a lot of students learning your subject is actually not the highest priority for them!)  How do they learn best?  This last one was a bit of a shocker for me, because I slowly realized that everyone learns differently (visually, auditory, spatially, by themselves, with others, using numbers, or using music/drama/arts).  So by getting a better understanding of your students will allow you to teach more focused lessons.  Next, is to get them IN…

Make it fun so they don’t realize they are learning

If your students aren’t interested, or engaged, with what you’re teaching you’ve lost them.  So by making it fun is a great way to get them in.  Once they are interested you have a chance to teach and model some new information to them; you have a chance to teach them something new.  But first is you need to capture their attention.  You need to get them in.  You need to get them interested.  You need to get them engaged.  Some ways to do this are: to have movement in your classroom and stop lecturing so much.  Do more role plays.  Add music, art and drama to whatever you are teaching.  Insert creativity into your classrooms.  Add games that have a purpose.  Make it fun, so they don’t realize they are learning.  Please…

Oh, one last thing that we are being taught at school and that Nancy demonstrated without needing to state it directly is to be professional.  Teachers are professionals.  We need to create effective lesson plans.  We need to assess and evaluate our students.   We need to continually grow and learn how to become better teachers and learners.  This is something I need to continue to focus on.

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