In my previous post I started to analyse what makes a good teacher candidate considering teacher training and teaching grammar. This time, let’s take a look at further aspects.
Be a master of classroom management
Endless is the list of teachers who can answer to job interview questions properly, but then fail in front of the white board. Managing a class is a skill a qualified teacher should have.
According to Wikipedia:
Classroom management is a term used by teachers to describe the process of ensuring that classroom lessons run smoothly despite disruptive behavior by students. The term also implies the prevention of disruptive behavior. It is possibly the most difficult aspect of teaching for many teachers; indeed experiencing problems in this area causes some to leave teaching altogether.
There are no bad students, only bad teachers – one of my colleagues used to say. Well, I might be able to recall some of my naughty students, I still agree that in most cases, the teacher’s behavior fuels students’ disruptive behavior. So the first thing is to understand what is going on in the classroom, then ask why and what can be done in order to change the unpleasant situation.
The magic word is consistency:
There are no students without homework in a class where the class teacher checks on the homework in every lesson;
There is no use of L1 in a classroom where the teacher pretends not to understand the students’ first language and insists on getting questions and answers in English;
There are no students without respect where the teacher behaves as a role model and not too much as a fellow, paying due respect to their students.
So before entering a classroom, give it a thought to what you can do, if things don’t go as smoothly as planned. Have your self-confidence and your charisma with you and everything is going to be all right.
A good teacher is also a good student. How could you understand the frustration of an adult in a beginner class if you have never experienced the embarrassment of not understanding a word or not knowing how to say something. The way you deal with frustration, failure and struggle of students is at lower levels more important then the language itself. It might even influence a student to love or to hate the language itself.
So enroll onto a language course and watch yourself, analyse your feelings, reactions. It will be more useful than any teacher training.
Prepare for cultural differences
Teaching in Japan sounds good, but are you prepared of not having much social life? You might not make friends easily. Teaching in Italy sounds even better, but if you don’t know the language, you might feel isolated in the first weeks or upset by their ‘warm’ welcome.
People are different and in different countries these differences become even more obvious. You might feel like an alien at the beginning of your contract and making friends in places, people speak, think, pray differently might be a real challenge.
So make sure, you are ready to put up with some loneliness or find your most social face and change things.
Teaching is the best job on Earth, but it can become very stressful sometimes. You might have to cover for a colleague and teach 8 hours back to back without time to prepare. You might have to correct 100 test papers in one week, since all of your classes got the final test in the same week. You might have a bad lesson and need to enter the next class immediately afterwards. You might have to deliver student reports and complete lesson plans/registers in few minutes between two lessons.
Being able to work under pressure, to coop with stress is something a language teacher should master. The best way to do it is to accept that things become sometimes rough and that we are human. To accept that stress is part of the teaching job, that we cannot please everybody.
You can do it as long as teaching remains your job and does not become your life. Have a life outside the school. Take up hobbies if you don’t have any at the moment. It can be simply reading, trekking, painting, but whatever it is or better to say they are, they need to involve movement (to get rid of physical tension) and self-expression (to release psychological tension).