Have the holidays really finished? Do I really have to pick up last term’s board marker and throw it in the bin because it dried out over the scorching summer in Seville? Is it really time to go back to work, Mummy?
Not that I actually have to start back yet, in fact I still have two more weeks of mind freedom, but I’m getting ahead of myself and wandering what TEFL teachers will be thinking about regards their next term while they are backpacking round Asia, being hooligans in Lloret de Mar, or abseiling at Butlin’s.
While I was back in the U.K this summer, flowing down the rapids at Centre Parcs, I started to think about what I’d like to do differently next term, as you do while you’re crashing into the walls. I always try to start in September on a positive note and often ask myself how I can improve my teaching for next term…you know the drill.
So, here are my ten promises that I plan to do from now until Christmas.
Crack on with phonetics
Being a phonetics freak, I always disappoint myself half-way through the term when I don’t insist enough of making my students study phonetics. Last year I taught four of my classes phonetics, but only really kept it up with two (which was two better than previous years).
Unfortunately, I decided to focus on two younger classes, where the students were aged between 11 and 13. It was definitely useful, but it might have been a bit beyond them. I think this year I’ll focus on helping the higher levels, like B1 / B2 a bit more with phonetics and seeing how far I can push them. I’ll still give it a go with the lower levels, but maybe take it easier.
Get stricter with FCE
I don’t know about you, but I had my worst results from official FCE students this summer. I had 19 go for it, and about 6 failed. I wasn’t expecting high marks as quite a few came through pre-fce level and they were a bit weaker, but still, I was gutted with the results.
If I think back to my previous four years teaching FCE, there was nothing I did differently, if anything I think I motivated them more and was stricter with their marking, but maybe it’s time for a change. I think I’ll try to test them more frequently through the year and try to be in contact more with their parents as the year goes on. I was thinking about assessing their study and vocabulary notes on a monthly basis too, just to make sure they are putting in the hours.
Keep up the TEFL blogging
Once term starts, the essays marking builds up, and the long days start to whack my body and brain, my motivating for blogging tends to wither. It’s happened the last three years, but I’m determined to keep going.
I’m a lot more motivated to blog about TEFL now, not only because I have moved to WordPress and love the design and way to blog, but also because after my last book, Teaching English in a Foreign Land, I have a new idea for a series of books for teachers from CELTA to DELTA, so I’m a lot more up for seeing it through and getting those books out there.
Maintain a TEFL diary
I started this at the end of last term and really enjoyed it. It just involved writing down a few comments in class, spontaneous ideas I came up with, funny comments from students, ways of doing things differently or just general observations. I liked it because I felt like I was writing at work, and writing about something I love, plus it enabled me to keep a record of new ideas and of what worked and didn’t, so I could just flick back and have a look for ways of twisting ideas for different levels.
Focus on weaker students
I would say that one of my strong points is turning weaker students around during term. Once they have done their Feb exam and I know where they are really at, I can get the ball rolling and really push them.
This year I want to be able to notice those students earlier on. It’s sometimes tricky with full classes to really understand each student and their abilities and level, especially if they are a bit shy, but this year I want to be able to help the needy a bit quicker, once I have the naughty ones under control, anyway.
Use Power Point more
Last year I started planning more at home, mainly due to my son’s nursery finishing times. This year will be even tighter some days, so I want to be able to get more organised with PowerPoint presentations that I can apply across the board to students.
In the summer I started using it a bit more, as you can see from my Complete PET series, and I plan to do so for the levels I have this year. This idea is to provide slides which link in with course books and give students extra speaking practise and a bit of entertainment. So keep your eye out for my materials.
Praise students more
‘Bery gut’ is my general praising term, sometimes I wink at students, or even get them to repeat something if they say it well, so other students can learn from them, but I’d like to do more. I know some levels and ages are tricky to praise, especially late teens. I used to hate it when an old boss of mine used to say how well I’d done in front of other colleagues, so I like to keep it discreet, but there must be a way of praising well. What do you do?
Help the new teachers
I always try to help the new teachers, I enjoy it, plus it looks good if I ever want to go into management or training. We have a couple of new teachers this term so I’ll try to help with ideas for lessons, students, and the general running of the academy I work for. It’s one of the most rewarding parts of the jobs in my opinion as you know you’re helping someone who usually appreciates it, unlike teaching sometimes.
Not get ill
This is a tricky one, especially with two younger kids who are like sponges to the germs flying about. Last year I went to work ill on a few occasions and it’s not pleasant. So I’m going to try not to get ill so much. I haven’t worked this one out yet though. I mean I lead quite a healthy lifestyle, I eat well and do exercise most days, but I guess I could do with an extra day’s sleep each week, but being the only bread winner at the moment doesn’t give me much scope for that. I’ll just eat a load of oranges then.
Start my next non-fiction book – part 1 of CELTA to DELTA
This is a new idea I had this summer. After reading a few books about how to get more into writing and make a living from it, I’ve learnt that to become noticed you have to have a few books published. Once I finish my first novel, which should be done in the next couple of months, I’m planning to start my next book, closely linked in with Teaching English in Foreign Land, but it will be more factual and contain advice for new TEFL teachers, rather than being about teaching, travelling, and getting drunk in foreign countries (which has been the biggest criticism of my book).
So, those are my promises. I wonder how many I’ll actually keep or whether I’ll remember when it gets to the New Year. Have any of these ideas inspired you? What do you hope to achieve this term?