Teaching is not All About the Content: Building Rapport and Managing a Classroom
Anyone could learn a syllabus and regurgitate it to a group of people, however, teaching involves more than just the transference of information. Teachers must learn to be able to engage their students with the content, while also building a rapport with the students and managing the classroom as a whole.
This post was written by our TEFL certification graduate Kate M. Please note that this blog post might not necessarily represent the beliefs or opinions of ITTT.
First Steps in Teaching
Rapport building with a new group of students or an individual student is a vital first step as well as an ongoing task for any teacher. Encouraging students to introduce themselves to you as the teacher as well as to the rest of the class is a great way for the class and teacher to get to know each other, while already giving the students talk time in English. This could be done either in an open class discussion or with the aid of several different activities. For example, each student introduces themself by using an adjective that describes themself and starts with the same letter as the first letter of their first name.
Another activity is ‘Find Someone Who’. This can be done in several ways, one being that each student fills in a sheet of facts about themself, which could include their hobbies, how many languages they speak, where they were born, which the last country they visited was and what they had for dinner the previous night. Once filled out, the students then walk around the room, trying to find someone else with a match. This allows student-student talk time and student-teacher talk time if the teacher fills out the same sheet while encouraging connections between students and the teacher through their shared interests.
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Once some rapport is built, the teacher can maintain and further increase it with several techniques. Appropriate eye contact with the students while teaching encourages them to stay engaged while maintaining control over the class. It is important to separate writing on the board with talking, so the students feel as though you are speaking directly to them. The larger the number of students in the class, the harder it may be for the teacher to ensure each student is staying engaged.
Different classroom setups allow students to walk around easily and constantly rotate their attention around the classroom. For a larger group, having the tables and chairs set up in rows allows the teacher to see all the students at once, while if set up well, the teacher can move freely between the rows when an individual student needs their full attention. Another classroom set up is a horseshoe shape. This is good for smaller classes when the teacher also wants to encourage group discussions.
Unlike in the row formation, this inhibits students from feeling left out when sitting at the back of the classroom, as everyone is equal especially. If a teacher decides to implement a seating plan, it is vital to figure out which students will be most effective working next to each other, and if they will work well when it comes to group or pair activities.
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