How to Establish Rapport with Your Class from the First Lesson
Every teacher in his/her career is faced with the first lesson in a new class. This lesson is vital for the teacher to establish rapport and set the tone for the rest of the course.
This post was written by our TEFL certification graduate Irina B. Please note that this blog post might not necessarily represent the beliefs or opinions of ITTT.
But how does he/she do it? Several factors can be counted.
First of all the teacher should introduce her/himself and write her/his name on the board, in case the students forget it. After that, ask the students to make a card with their names and put it on the desks. From this time the teacher should call her/his students only by their names. It is a pleasure for every person to hear his/her name.
So the teacher and the students have to get acquainted and can start to have ice-breaking activities, which the teacher has already prepared. It'd not a good idea to use a coursebook in the first lesson. He/she should choose materials and activities that involve the students talking to each other and sharing personal information/ideas/opinions. These activities depend on the class. For children some games like “pass the ball” or “tell us about” can be used. For adults, the teacher can implement a needs analysis or survey. It doesn't matter which class is taught, the main goal is to find out as much as possible about new students. This will allow the teacher to be able to plan future lessons to cater to the students interests and levels.
If the teacher can elicit the students' interest in her/his classes from the first lesson it is the main step to the long way for establishing rapport. But if the teacher would like the students to love her/his subject, he/she should enjoy the work and show it to the students. Don't forget to smile. Be positive in everything you do and show personal interests in the students and give them clear instructions.
The last one is vital for the teacher who would like the students to understand him/her. When the teacher gives instruction he/she should be consistent, use simple language and visual clues like real objects, mimes, gestures, or pictures. Always checking the instructions. Dont ask questions like “Do you understand?”. It's not enough. Ask the students to explain the instruction back to you. And if it's ok just monitor to see how they follow it. Start to do it from the first lesson and you will see a magic sympathy from the students.
The other important things for establishing rapport are eye contact, the teacher's gestures, and the voice. All of these can encourage contributions and attention, maintain the discipline, and add the interest. Using eye contact the teacher can show the students that they are all involved in the lesson, signal the students to start, stop, or get a move on, indicating that something is correct or incorrect. If the students follow the teacher eye signals it means ерфе the rapport is established. The teacher should keep it for the rest of the course.
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There are a lot of other specific techniques for establishing rapport between the teacher and the students. But I think that from the first lesson to the rest of the course the teacher should be as natural as possible and respond according to the situations. The students feel falsehood and can't trust such teachers who lie.
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