I got this picture from http://www.highexistence.com/dont-fight-reality/, then I alter it a bit by adding a few words.
I understand what the author is trying to say: don’t fight reality. It’s true. What I am trying to encourage myself to do is to ‘make a difference’ no matter what.
Reality we English teachers are facing: students’ low english standard + low motivation in learning, not enough support from the parents, syllabus we have to cover in limited time, admin work etc.
These are things that are out of our control.
Things we are able to do:
1. Build good teacher-student relationship
Yes, it’s just cliche stuff. Everyone knows its importance. This year I am not a class mistress, which means I have even lesser time to be with the kids. So the first thing I did in the beginning of the term is to know more about them. I made a worksheet “Miss Law wants to know more about you” (I’ll post it here later) In that worksheet, I want to know whether they like English or not (with reasons included), their favourite subjects/singers/books, their goals etc. They are also asked whether they have a facebook account or not so I can add them. Facebooking is one of great ways to get to know about your kids nowadays!
Next thing I did was to set up general rules in English lesson with them. Kids actually have great expections of themselves ! Even though they sometimes fail to keep their promises, but it’s nice to get it paste on the wall and remind them from time to time. ( I did the same with my P.3 kids)
To Maximize the time we spent with together, I try to have lunch with them as frequent as possible and play some English games with them afterwards.
2. Help kids in dictation
Dictation can be a pain in the neck for weak students, esp for those who don’t have enough family support. To get better marks in the dictation may help them build confidence in learning English. I tried to read aloud the dication pieces and record it then put the sound file on podomatic: http://janetreadsaloud.podomatic.com (I will ask some brighter students to help recording later.) So if they can access the Internet at home, they can always revise dictation on their own.
It’s not a gurentee that they will get good marks. Six of my kids failed in the very first dictation. But at least they know they are supported by the teacher, the only thing they need to do is to work harder.
3. Better preparation for lessons
I tend to talk too much if I haven’t prepared my lessons well. Kids usually have short attention span only. Small meaningful tasks keep them engaged in learning.
4. Short quizes from time to time
Short quizes doesn’t take much time and it can test if the kids have grasped the target language. Weaker students can gain confidence if they can at least get some questions correct.
5.Create a safe learning environment +more opportunities for kids’ performance
Safe learning environment: We promised not to laugh at others even though we may make mistakes in speaking.
– Readers’ Theatre is great. Choose some short and funny scripts. (Still some of them are not willing to come out to perform. Pick some brighter kids first to motivate others. Telling them it’s just for fun. Interest is everything. )
Example: “Computer says no” (Little Britain) Be very careful choosing the right clip – short, funny, no foul language, easy to listen and follow.
– pair work/gp work (awarness-raising activities, refer to ‘how to teach speaking’ by Scott Thornbury) Always do the close pair work (practise in their seats) before open pair work (perform in front of the class)
– Use of pop songs/poem/comics. This website http://www.toondoo.com/ helps creating your own comic strip.
– practise reading aloud and record sounds. I set up a mic in the classroom and register a class account in podomatic (www.podomatic.com). We can use lunchtime to record our performance.
When you get really frustrated since your students still don’t want to participate or didn’t perform as you have expected, read this :
haha… I read it from time to time to stay positive. 😄
Happy teaching! 🙂