Reflective Teaching Blog Challenge – Day One: Write your goals for the school year. Be as specific or abstract as you’d like to be!
In no particular order:
- Learn the names of my students and fellow staff members. I want to be past the deer-in-the-headlights feeling of being greeted by them and not knowing their names. I also want to get to know them on a more personal level; develop inside jokes and be able to share a laugh, no matter how broken the English might be.
- Become a lesson planning beast. I cannot WAIT for the day when I’m able to spend a little less time agonizing over what to put in my lessons. I want to build up my “bag of tricks” with a diverse array of English games, so I’m able to pull something else out of the hat when Plan A flops or doesn’t go as expected.
- Be open to feedback and continually strive to improve my teaching skills. I have so much to learn, and the faster I can absorb it and make adjustments, the better. Be it from my co-teacher, other teachers at the school, or the students themselves, any constructive criticism is more than welcome.
- Actually get a handle on how to teach to multiple skill levels simultaneously. Within the same lesson, I want to be able to reach the student who is silently struggling in the back while also challenging/maintaining the engagement of the eager beaver in the front. I hardly expect this skill to happen overnight…but if it did I wouldn’t be mad.
- Create a comfortable, fun classroom environment. I completely understand that learning English isn’t easy or something my students necessarily want to do. So, the more security and relatable content I can bring to our time together, the better.
- Incorporate as much multi-media as possible into each lesson. Pictures. PowerPoints. YouTube videos and video games. Realia (newspapers, magazine, comic books). Social media. Texting. You name it, I want to use it in a lesson. Anything to resonate with the students that will get them engaged with the language.
- Teach an entire class without one single student falling asleep. It’s not that my lessons are THAT boring (I actually think they’ve been at least mildly successful, thus far). It’s that these poor kids are utterly exhausted day in and day out. But if I get one day, or even one class, where every student would rather be involved in the lesson than snoozing on their desk, that would be huge.
- Avoid becoming predictable or getting stuck in a rut. While I’m sure it will be tempting to continually rely on a strategy or activity once I know its well-liked and effective, I want to keep looking for new and unexpected ways for students to be introduced to, and interact with, the material.
- Give students a sense of ownership over their learning. Let them choose the kind of activities we do to review vocabulary. Allow them to decide the layout of the desks in class. Present them with assignments that can be proudly displayed around the room. If they feel like they own the class (at least in part), they will likely be more active and engaged.
- Create a tangible way for students to track their progress throughout the year. Whether its a word journal or a poster, I want the students to have something that they can refer back to each week and see what they’ve been learning. One of my biggest fears so far as that everything I say goes in one ear during the lesson and then out the other as soon as I leave. I want something to stick.
- Participate in School Sports Day and attend my students’ games, matches and/or competitions (I teach at a sports high school, in case you didn’t know). I’ve already observed at school how relationships are built just as much, if not more, outside of the classroom as they are in it. By demonstrating support and interest in my students and their athletic pursuits, I hope they’ll grow to trust me more, and see me as someone who cares about more than just their English capabilities.
- Become more indirectly active in the observation phase of each lesson. I’ve noticed how students prefer to interact with my co-teacher more during this part of the lesson, and I understand why. It’s with her that they can easily speak and ask for help/clarification. On my end, I have also been hesitant to go beyond saying “Good job! Yes!” or “Well done! Excellent!” to studens while they work because, just like them, I fear they won’t understand me. I need to get over that and start interacting with students as they complete their assignments. Once I do, I’ll connect better with them and be able to more accurately check for comprehension.
- Get my students to greet me with something other than the robotic “Hello, teacher. How are you? I’mfinethankyou.” I’m already almost to the point where I would rather have students say “Banana!” to me instead of the same, wrotely-memorized script. At least then they’d be demonstrating a broader knowledge of English vocabulary. Maybe I’ll try this. Seriously. On Monday I’ll tell my students, pick one word in English…anything at all…and next time you see me, instead of saying “Hello!,” say that word. Who knows, maybe it will spark an impromptu teaching moment, or at the very least, a laugh.
- Enjoy teaching. As stressful and anxiety-filled as this job can be, when it comes down to it my job responsibilties are quite simple: teach kids English, and make it fun and interesting. There’s no way I’m going to acquire 20 years of teaching experience overnight, as nice as that would be. So instead I’ll try to stop being so hard on myself and focus on making small steps in the right direction. If I do that, I’ll have no choice but to enjoy the year ahead of me.