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10 tips to become a successful teacher

Simple but invaluable advice it’s worth remembering as you start your teaching career

As teachers, we always aim to equip pupils not only with intellectual skills, but most of all with important life skills.

That is the focus of the book My Edutainment World, by Myrsini Verdoukas and Jenny Dooley (Express Publishing). As the book mentions, it is a holistic approach to teaching English to preschoolers, but the activities and tips included can easily be adapted to cover the needs of students of all ages. It is designed for the teacher who comprehend that students develop greater fluency in a language when they are naturally exposed to it.

What does it take to become a successful language teacher? Let’s have a look at some of the tips that are supported by this resource of ideas.

  1. Be well prepared

Even if you’re an experienced teacher, good preparation is always recommended. For experienced teachers, the process may take up less time, but it is still necessary. If you follow this tip, you will relax and enjoy the lesson rather than be trying to organise everything while the kids become restless or bored.

  1. Be an entertainer

Humour and fun are the triggers of the brain. If you manage to trigger the kids’ brains, then you can be sure that they’ll participate in all the tasks you want them to be involved in. Be enthusiastic, fun to be with and energetic. Students will then be engaged in your lesson.

  1. Be a role model

Treat your students the way you would like to be treated. Negative feelings, irony, bitter comments, shouting and raising your voice are not ideal. Use please and thank you, and be polite at all times because it demonstrates courtesy and respect. Be the teacher who believes in them, their supporter and the one who accepts them for who they are. In general, set a good example, show them and guide them towards the desired behaviour in a positive and inspiring way.

  1. Make them feel secure

Learning a foreign language is an overwhelming process for a lot of kids, even if they have had some years of prior exposure to it. There are always new areas, rules, words to learn and, since it is a foreign language, that means that they don’t often get the chance to use it on a daily basis, so communication might seem like a nightmare to them. Respect their fears and work on the solution in a friendly way with them. Greet them politely, explain everything willingly and generally create a positive environment where asking for advice won’t be a stressful situation, but the most natural thing in the world.

  1. Provide safety

This tip is crucial, especially for very young learners. Try to create a safety net for them inside and outside the classroom. Young ones are very energetic and run around. Avoid having kids running with objects like sticks or other things that could hurt them if they fall. Also, make sure that there is enough space for them to carry out any actions without accidentally hitting each other.

  1. Give simple and clear instructions
Explain everything in a simple way and always remember to give examples. One step at a time is a golden rule to keep in mind as, regardless of age, quite a lot of kids find it really hard to remember a lot of different instructions given at the same time.
  1. Set specific goals
Your goals and expectations must be clear and well defined. Vague or generalised goals are unhelpful because they don’t provide sufficient direction. Remember, you need goals to show your students the way. The ‘one step at a time rule’ should also be applied in this case as a lot of different goals might be intimidating and cause fear, stress, and sometimes distraction and lack of participation on behalf of the students.
  1. Be flexible

If something isn’t working, then change it. Don’t stick to things that cause boredom and indifference just because they’re on the syllabus.

  1. Manage your time

This tip is closely related to the preparation tip, as if you have prepared a lot of stuff before the actual lesson then it will be easier to manage your time during it. Especially when you wish to include experiential and hands-on activities you need to take into consideration that you should always leave some time for cleaning up and putting things you have used away.

  1. Set your rules

Classroom rules should be established from day one. Be consistent in applying them and don’t be afraid to be a bit strict from time to time. Also, explain to your students the difference between strict and bossy. They will surely appreciate it!

Liz Granirer
Liz Granirer
Liz has been a journalist for many years. She is currently editor of EL Gazette and has previously edited the magazines Young Performer, StepForward and Accounting Technician; been deputy editor on Right Start magazine; chief sub editor on Country Homes & Interiors; and sub editor on easyJet Traveller, Lonely Planet and Family Traveller magazines, along with a number of others.
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