The attitude of the TEFL teacher is to always be learning. You need to keep improving and a lot of this comes down to your experience. Things that went badly the first time round can be readily avoided or dealt with differently once you have been in the job for a number of months.
Since coming back to work from my broken arm there has been a number of issues that needed addressing, from recalcitrant students, rebellious students, violent students and even one case of a student being too excited. Yes, this too can be a distraction. As fun as the lesson could be, a student soiling themselves during class is pretty alarm. Especially for a nine year old.
In my first classes at York, my focus was on getting solid lesson plans laid, making it fun for the students and perhaps teaching them something along the way. Despite a few observations when I first came here, it’s quite hard to gauge what is regular behavior and what isn’t. Some of the teachers I saw didn’t care about the five years old climbing the walls or the thirteen year old playing on their mobile. Once you’re in the classroom it’s a whole lot different and as long as the lesson ticked over nicely it didn’t really matter.
With the passing of every week it is noticeable what is normal, what isn’t normal, what children do to lie or cheat, the excuses they use, the puppy dog eyes they produce and any other tactic to have you believe that it is not them that has caused the trouble.
Setting the Tone
It’s important to set the tone very early, to let the students know what the class rules are and what the consequences for those rules are. A number of my classes which I inherited were from a stray teacher who left prematurely and the students remind me a lot of the behavior from my early classes. With the benefit of experience behind me it is easy to see that the things they do is not normal and I can handle it better, without feeling stressed about it, or leaning on the side of being over friendly or disciplined.
I like my classes to be a natural environment, but one in control and any behavior that interrupts the learning of another is where I draw the line. Classes that have an ice cool atmosphere are not to my liking, so it is important to be firm, but allow the students to realize that they can play with the words and are free to express themselves creatively.
Claiming It As Your Own
Another important aspect is to assert your own personality on to a class and come to an unspoken agreement with the students that as long as they don’t break the rules or annoy you then everything is going to be okay. There is a period of a few weeks where children will try and push the boundaries, perhaps not always knowingly, and see how far they can go. But if the rules are there and you stand firm, with no grudges being held, then a good understanding develops of acceptable behavior and unacceptable behavior. After this the students start to warm to your methods, become more accustomed on your games and the classes flow better, they learn more and you yourself has less of a headache.
Once this period comes to an end then it is easier to relax with each other, increase the fun and go full throttle to an English learning Utopia.