How to Learn Teaching Skills: Algorithm for Self-Practice
Teaching is one of the most important occupations in society. And Even though teachers are not appreciated in many parts of the world, their importance is unquestionable. They build up the next generations and without them, society would eventually fall. Being a teacher requires a specific set of skills. Some people are more talented than others in delivering information or explaining. However, with learning and patience, anyone can be a teacher. These specific teaching skills are divided into two main directions: Design and delivery. In the following paragraphs, I am talking in more detail about them. I am also starting with the definition of a teacher.
This post was written by our TEFL certification graduate Abdelrhman A. Please note that this blog post might not necessarily represent the beliefs or opinions of ITTT.
What is a teacher? A teacher is someone who helps facilitate the transfer of knowledge. That knowledge can be transferred from a book, the teacher's experience, a record, or any other form of knowledge containers. Teachers in their current form are a new invention. However, the profession of passing along knowledge has existed since the dawn of human civilization. Philosophers used to take on many disciples that they passed their thoughts to. These disciples, later on, became masters and so on. Craftsmen did the same with their profession. Later, a disciple became a student and a master/mentor became a teacher. In essence, only the word changed, the profession stayed the same. Facilitating the transfer of knowledge and skills in a way that is most suitable to the students at hand is what separates a good teacher from a bad teacher.
Types of Skills
To facilitate that transfer, the teacher needs to learn some skills that are divided into two branches, design and delivery. Some teachers can do both and some can only do one. From the name, the design branch is related to designing curriculum and methods to teach. It requires knowledge of human learning behavior and language acquisition research if the design is for learning a language. IT also requires in-depth knowledge of the topic that he or she is designing. In some cases, there are even designing teams.
They work on creating the develope the curriculums produced by their respective places. Some work on a large scale like big language book production centers while some work on a smaller scale like designing a curriculum for a private lesson. Not all teachers are required to have expert designing abilities, but some entry-level is needed for them to be able to make their lesson plans and be flexible in their classes. The lesson plan chapter in this course suffices for that purpose and it is supplemented by other chapters like handling materials and coursebooks. It is enough for a general teacher who doesn't intend on taking design and education development as a career.
On the other hand, there is a delivery branch. It is focused on the practical part of transferring knowledge and skills. Think about it like this, the design is for creating content while delivery is for transferring the content to the mind of the students. While some fortunate people can just pick up a book to learn on their own, not everyone is capable of that. That's where delivery teachers come in. To perform the best in that situation, they need to have skills and knowledge of presentation skills, body language, reading emotional cues, class management, activity management, conflict resolution... etc. Most of these topics were covered pretty extensively in the course. And even though, I have plenty of teaching experience, I found it pretty useful to see the theory behind the practice.
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And that brings me to my final and concluding point. Learning teaching skills is knowledge, skills, and practice. None is more important than the other. Many people have a lot of knowledge but they can't transfer it to others. There is no right place to start. Some teachers start teaching and learn by practice and observing other teachers. They then learn the theory behind later on. Others learn the theories first and then get to practice. They would stumble a lot, in the beginning, trying to find the balance between theory and practice. However, it pays off. Learning teaching skills is an ongoing process as we practically learn something new every class that we give. A teacher who stops learning is a teacher who won't reach far with their students.
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