Classroom as a Battlefield: Alumni Personal Experience
One of the things we should remember about when coming to the classroom, that this place can become a battlefield: a battle can happen between students, between the teacher and students, with the English language, and the most difficult one - a battle with yourself. These were my thoughts when I started teaching.
This post was written by our TEFL certification graduate Yulia M. Please note that this blog post might not necessarily represent the beliefs or opinions of ITTT.
The beginning of the teaching career
When you just start your career as a teacher you may know (in theory) or may not know (even in theory) what should you do in your first class, what kind of behavior to choose and how to react to the students’ behavior. But every mistake - no matter how small it is - can shake your confidence and destroy all your preparation, because no matter how well prepared you are, in the beginning, your students will surprise you anyway. You are afraid of them and they are afraid of you. In my opinion, the teachers should establish rapport first, even before mentioning classroom rules and discipline, because almost all of the parents preparing their children before the class: sit quietly, listen to the teacher. This kind of word may be alarming for 5 years old children.
Working with younger students
I work with young learners, they are easily frightened, because they are not used to spend time without parents or spent time with a person who looks different from them, or they just can’t keep their focus for more than 5 minutes. Most of them do not understand why they are here, so being fun, being kind, being interesting, being attentive and react to the children’s emotions for me are the main ways to establish rapport. It depends on the teacher whether the children will like English and studying or not. I believe every child can be approached if the teacher is an open-hearted person. Rules and Communication
Establishing rules is very important for discipline because no matter how fun the teacher is, we came to the classroom for studying. Step by step during the first class I introduce the rules to the students: I explain every rule using gestures, puppets or whatever can help me to hold the attention and the students usually understand me. In the second lesson I start with the rules and sooner or later all of the children, even the naughtiest, start to follow them. Love of children does not let you scream on them, but if you do - do not forget to explain what was the reason for this emotion. No matter how small the children are they already can understand and conclude. I never think I am more mature then my students, for me we are on the same level, and they feel it and it helps to build trust. Now, most of my students help me with discipline during lessons.
I believe inspiring confidence in the students is one of the most important parts of the student-teacher relationships, which helps to establish rapport and manage the classroom.
I’m trying to be attentive to the students with a lack of confidence or who’s weak and do not force them to do tasks I know they can’t complete. But it doesn’t mean they just sit and do nothing - it’s a bad way for studying and for their confidence as well because it won’t help them to grow. For the new classes, at the beginning of our work together, even I demonstrate all of my tasks before we start, I give weak students time to observe strong students’ performance first - and it helps. First several classes weak students are not active - lack of confidence and they are afraid of making mistakes, but after a month of working together, after they observed so many classes, they already know - the teacher will encourage them no matter how many mistakes they make and help them if they can’t remember target language with hints.
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Later these students become very excited and active - they raise their hands and try to be first in every next task. But this is just a second step. After this excitement comes enthusiasm - they start understanding the teacher, the language and they are willing to produce, to improve, to show their knowledge to the classmates and the teacher. And this is one of my main goals as a teacher.
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