Do Teaching Skills in The Classroom have a Huge Impact on Student Learning and Interest?
The English Language is globally profound more than it has been many years ago. It has become the international language of the world with most people speaking and understanding. It is taught in schools in different countries all around the world to people whose native language is not the English Language. However, are these teachings effective? Does teaching skills in the classroom have a huge impact on student learning and interest in the language?
This post was written by our TEFL certification graduate Sandie M. Please note that this blog post might not necessarily represent the beliefs or opinions of ITTT.
Each school or classroom has a mission and that mission is to enhance student learning through teaching instruction. This requires skill and a vision of students developing understanding through participation in their environment. Yes, teachers must organize content students are supposed to learn, design coherent instruction, plan, demonstrate knowledge of content and pedagogy, knowledge of resources, instructional goals, objectives, learning outcomes, and design assessments. However, practice is different from theory. Having the perfect lesson plan is great but demonstrating these skills should take precedence.
Assessing Teaching Skills
Perfecting these skills does take time but we must also assess our teaching and learning skills as we do our students. In my first year as a teacher I was so engrossed in creating the perfect lesson plan, and that subtracted from the focus of manifesting that plan. I had to self assess my strengths and weaknesses because I knew I was struggling in impacting my student's interest and learning. I reflected on my teaching skills in the classroom and they were unsatisfactory.
Personal Teaching Experience
I asked for advice from my mentor who was a tenured special education teacher a year from retirement. She is also a native of the Philippines, thus, was able to give me a trio perspective. When I expressed my concerns she advised me to complete an online assessment on teaching skills. I scored proficient, sometimes distinguished in areas such as planning and preparation, classroom environment, and professional responsibilities. Consequently, basic in instruction and teaching skills. My fear was validated and I knew immediately I had to make a change to be efficient and effective in my students’ learning process. I wanted to accomplish so much in my lessons that I was rigid. I was a lecturer full of knowledge instead of communicating with my students and using discussion. This assessment helped me find some tools to enhance my teaching skills and I am very happy I took the challenge.
I had to master the art of teaching and put my theories into practice. Before in my communication with students, I gave instructions and explained the procedure, leaving my students guessing. Non-verbal language does play an important role in teacher-student interactions. A teacher’s communication skills involve both written and oral language, especially for language learners.
My expectations for learning had to be clear and expressive so that my students understood what and why without being dull, scripted, and focused on completing my lesson or unit of study on time every given moment. I began linking my lessons to broader learning, and purposeful to their interest. Being clear in expectations for learning, what, and why they were learning to allow students to realize the purpose. I used a board configuration where I wrote the aim and objectives visibly on the board, along with tasks, and would have a student read aloud the aim of the day’s lesson. I used surveys to get to know their interests more deeply and incorporated them into my lesson planning. I even had taken home surveys for parents to also be involved.
An important key was getting the students involved and having a mindful eye for students who seemed unclear about what to do. So, I adapted the language, providing an index card for English Language Learners with simpler directions or sometimes pair/share. Before the task began, I would ask a clarifying question about the directions. These changes and efforts created an environment where my students gradually took responsibility for their learning because they were no longer reluctant and I became flexible and less rigid resulting in a fun learning environment where I didn’t mind being silly at times. Not only did I use vivid language but gestures, metaphors, and whatever it took to connect my explanation, their prior knowledge, interest, and lives beyond the classroom. It is important to use a real-world application to create that connection. I had become a facilitator rather than the sole performer. The change felt amazing. My classroom became an environment where my students actively engaged and participated rather than nodding their heads in agreement with my sage remarks. This is because my teaching skills involved them, with a range of choices that accommodated them as learners, and in some tasks, giving them the choice to demonstrate their learning.
Ways to work on it
For language learners as well as many students, the best model of accurate syntax and vocabulary in most cases is their teachers’ tongue. Modeling tongue helps students imitate and be expressive. So, I used vocabulary by adjusting and including focus involving visuals. Starting with a TPS of a picture and a word of the day which was used or referred to throughout the lesson. I try to find opportunities to expand students’ vocabulary like roleplay, debates, and games.
Teaching skills do influence learners because my classroom began to blossom with the changes that I had made and I became less stressed in my focus on teaching. The students were comfortable and interested in the content so my questioning was no longer over their heads but challenged their cognitive level because now they engaged deeply with the content and could make sense of it. These changes also led to a discussion that advanced their thoughts and learning, including assuming responsibility by making contributions and initiating questions and queries. Moreover, they were engaged due to the activities, assignments, tasks, grouping, resources, and reflection time after assignments. This also allowed me to consistently and constantly assess them by classroom performance during instruction and not only test. Being able to monitor my students’ learning continuously as the lessons progressed allowed me to adjust my instruction if necessary. Also, my frequent post-it note feedback individualized their errors and offered instruction to help them correct errors, advancing their learning. I incorporated peer feedback as well.
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In conclusion, classrooms are like businesses where important work happens. They can be fun, blissful, also productive, and business-like. Teachers of English as a second language should enjoy the teaching as well as the learning and be confident in the process. Here in Japan, many teachers of English often say they can't speak English very well and they also utilize the native language more in the classroom. They are fearful of making mistakes. If the students see that we are vested and excited about what they are teaching, the students become invested. Teaching skills in the classroom are imperative and conducive to motivating and inspiring learners. It does make a difference in the students’ learning experience. They involve many components, but Rome wasn’t built in a day so we as educators must reflect on our teaching skills if our goal is to become a distinguished teacher who effectively and efficiently makes a difference or contributes to the learning experience of our students by creating a love of learning.
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