Teachers and Students Are A Lot Alike
Just like our students, if we're not stimulated or motivated by our jobs, we will become bored and ineffective. This will create a chain reaction because if we're ineffective as teachers, our chances of having quality classes for the students drastically goes down. Our students can sense this, and they will not be motivated and turn off, or worse, distract others.
We all know what an unravelled class looks like.
Fortunately, there are some steps you can take to keep yourself motivated while you're either honing your craft as an EFL teacher or looking for what you really want to do.
Lessons, Materials, Worksheets, Stories, Etc.
Finding the Challenge
1. Find the Challenge - Focus on the people instead of the subject matter. This will always be dynamic and constantly changing because people are all different in their learning styles, classroom conduct, and how they receive information. Remember, you're not teaching English, you're teaching people... English.
Creating goals for both yourself and your students can make your job more stimulating because you have inherent challenges to accomplish with each goal. Goals for yourself could be personal growth or professional goals, and also creating goals for the students will give you something in common to work towards.
2. Avoid the Lesson Plan Crutch - Don't stick too strictly to a lesson plan. We need to be flexible and spontaneous in our classes, and lesson plans can kill this if we try to follow it too rigidly. As we become more experienced, we can start to use bullet points as our lesson plans and focus more on helping students directly in each class. Of course, this comes with experience. Go with questions that students ask.
3. Find the Challenge Within Yourself - As mentioned above, one of the goals you could add for yourself in your time in the classroom is a personal growth goal. Personal growth goals are fantastic because our classrooms are a hotbed for working on organization, creativity, and above all, PATIENCE. If you're working with teens or kids, this is a great character trait to practice working on.
Overall, if teaching your subject matter isn't stimulating, find something else that is stimulating, and work on that during your lessons to help you become a better teacher, parent, friend, partner, or simply a better person in general. There's always somewhere to go!
Do you have any other ideas?
One of the best tools you can have in your bag or teacher box is a dice. There are many things you can do with dice as a teacher: play a board game, choose who goes first in a game, or you could open your classes with vocabulary review games.
Break the class into teams.
Choose team names (Adjective + Noun)
Assign the numbers of the dice to do tasks based on their roll (EVEN or ODD if you just do two tasks)
Draw (draw a picture of the chosen word)
Act (act out the chosen word)
-for more advanced levels-
Describe (describe the chosen word without saying any part of the word)
Take turns to come up, roll the dice, and do the task based on the number.
Easter Egg Lessons
Adjective + Noun - For many languages around the world, our form of ADJECTIVE + NOUN to describe something is backwards to their language. Therefore, it can take some work to change the order in English. Doing this in the beginning of each class is an engaging way to reinforce their correct order in English.
Added Vocabulary - After the students get accustomed to making team names, they will go through several stages, especially for teens. If you remind them that their is a language purpose of doing this, students usually respect that and start caring a bit more.
Even and Odd Numbers - Doing this as an opening routine for a while will allow you to teach EVEN numbers and ODD numbers. Chances are your students will know what they are, so you can just focus on the best way to help them remember it in English.
For this lesson, we are going to study Endangered Species just in time for Earth Day. In our summer camp, we're working on the topic of REDUCE, REUSE, and RECYCLE, so we've collected a ton of plastic bottles, toilet paper rolls, milk cartons, egg cartons, and bottle caps.
We are going to ultimately ask the students choose an endangered animal and create one using the given objects. (you can give the students any material you want, and see what their minds create).
If you have a whiteboard with a projector, show the following exercise on the whiteboard, and ask students to write their answers in the spaces.
With a partner, discuss the following questions and write your answers. You can research the answers for questions 1 and 2 if you need to and write the answers IN YOUR OWN WORDS.
1. What makes a species endangered?
2. How many endangered animals can you list?
3. What are some reasons animals have gone extinct?
4. Is it our responsibility to responsibility to save endangered animals? Why?
Expressions to AGREE or DISAGREE.
Use these expressions to have a discussion about questions 3 and 4. Have a conversation with a partner or group sharing your opinion.
Follow and Subscribe
Relax and Troubleshoot
Before we get into how to mentally handle these situations to turn a bad situation into a good situation, always remember your basic troubleshooting steps for an unstable connection.
With this being said, let's get into the three tips for you to remember next time this happens to you.
1. Connection Issues Are Like A Fart
Don't play the blame game. Nobody likes to be blamed for either one. Even if you're positive the problem isn't on your end, it isn't in good taste to say something like, "Well, I just had a class and it went fine, so the problem must be on your end." It's always good to search for a solution. Even though the situation stinks, we just have to deal with it and move on and look for some fresh air.
2. Turn A Negative Into A Positive
Relax, these things happen. This isn't the first time you or your student has dealt with technological problems and connection issues, and it won't be the last. Since you can't control the technology gods, worry about what you CAN control. You can do your best to help the student have a good memory and good experience with your lesson. A few things you can do to create the best experience possible are:
These kinds of gestures will go a long way to grow your relationship and the trust between you and your student.
3. Turn It Into A Language Lesson
After you get your connection issue worked through, you can use this authentic material as a language lesson teaching a whole list of new vocabulary, phrasal verbs, and expressions from this real context situation. Some of the vocabulary and expressions that could come up:
If all else fails, try your phone
If you are still having trouble, you can always switch to your phone to finish the class.
I've found most students are understanding of this situation. However, some people might not be very understanding, in which case, you'll just have to deal with that and let them go. People are people after all.
Have more time.