Recently I was talking to CELTA graduates, who had just finished their course, about their experience during the program. They expressed feelings of being overwhelmed by the grammar, sheer volume and complexity of the language awareness tasks along with everything that they had to prepare in lessons and the planning for the later stages of the course.
When I did my CELTA course I was also overwhelmed by the workload. It is kind of a blur now but I knew that helping students was something that I was keen on doing. Preparing a lesson in the ‘right’ way seemed particularly important as I did not want to short-change the students. I remember feeling that I wanted another ‘go’ at doing the lesson after not feeling that it had gone well.
The panic of trying to make sure everyone in the classroom has a positive experience is something which has made me a great teacher. However, the problem is you can not control all the variables. You have to put your best foot forward and try to please most of the people most of the time.
There are some strategies which I believe prevent the classroom becoming a chaotic environment. This list is by no means exhaustive, but these things have been really helpful in making sure that my lessons have the best possible chance of making myself and the students satisfied and happy with their learning experience.
Here are 5 things that I found useful through my teaching journey.
1. Make sure the room / learning environment is set up in a way that is appropriate for the class you will teach. For example, make sure that in a Zoom class you have all your windows open and ready or in a real classroom, that your tables are arranged correctly for the activity which you are presenting.
2. Make sure that feedback is conducted appropriately. This can be done randomly to keep the students on their toes or to allow different students to have a voice.
3. Make sure that tasks are set up with instruction check questions (or a clear visual) of what is required. The task can also be demonstrated. If no-one knows what is happening then you can’t know if the lesson has been successful or not.
4. Make sure that the staging of the class is appropriate. Does the class flow? What approach are you going to employ? Present Practice Production? Guided discovery?
5. Try not to micromanage each stage in the planning so that you don't get caught down too many rabbit holes. I think sometimes if you have planned too much this can take the joy out of teaching. I am reminded of the fact that a teacher who is exhausted often does not perform in the class and that teachers efforts can sometimes produce diminishing returns i.e. lots of effort for very small gains.
Do you have any of tips your own to add?