Overcoming Stress: Classroom Challenges and How to Work on Them
Before we dig in, I think it is very important to know exactly why we are doing anything that we do. Knowing the intention behind anything we do, gives us purpose and gives us the ability to see things from a bird's eye point of view. In this case, a person choosing to teach English as a foreign language needs to ask herself why do I want to teach English? Why do I want to be in a classroom with students from all sorts of different backgrounds?
This post was written by our TEFL certification graduate Randa E. Please note that this blog post might not necessarily represent the beliefs or opinions of ITTT.
Students with different backgrounds
Depending on the answer to those questions, we get to our 'why' and it must be a 'juicy why' because that is the only way to have it be a meaningful endeavor. Once that is established and clear in the mind of the teacher, overcoming obstacles, like a stressful situation in the classroom, becomes a bit easier. That's because without a juicy reason one would want to throw in the towel so to speak at the first bump in the road instead of persevering and pushing through the challenge to keep moving ahead.
Also Read: What is it Like Teaching English in China?
Teacher’s temper and attitude
Now, stressful situations may arise because of the teacher's temper or because of a particular student or group of students, but it may also arise because of the environment, say, it's too hot and mucky, or very noisy in or around the classroom causing tension. Therefore, a good teacher needs to be able to quiet her mind and her inner chatter 'about' the situation so she can think clearly and in an unbiased manner.
Thinking clearly will allow a good teacher, who knows how to manage her classroom while delivering value, to assess what's going on and apply one of three methods of dealing with it. One is to change the situation, two is to change herself or her perspective of the situation and three to remove herself from the situation altogether. The same applies if she's helping a student who is causing the stressful situation. She can guide him through his three options, while possibly also making the whole thing a whole classroom teaching opportunity. Of course not by making the student feel insulted in the process but by demonstrating that we can all feel the way he does and that doesn't mean we are helpless with regards to changing the way we feel.
Even if it was the teacher's culprit that caused the stressful situation, it can still be used as an exercise for the whole class to learn from. That would make the teacher a good role model for how to manage our emotions and reactions in stressful situations, especially with young learners in my opinion. Young students learn more by example and through stories than any other way. Experiencing an adult demonstrating how they may admit to being wrong, or having done a mistake, and then how to rectify or fix it, would be a marvelous thing for a young student to witness and often, the only place where they may see something like this would be in the classroom.
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Anything that we go through can be a learning experience, and in the set up of an English learning classroom, what better way to learn than through a story with a climax and a resolution that the whole class discovers or experiences together?!
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