Practice What You’ve Learned
During my TEFL course we were educated on how to teach students of all ages about a variety of things. Grammar presentations, listening activities, pair activities, group activities, reading games, lots and lots of things. One thing we didn’t receive much tutelage on was health and safety, or classroom management. I covered classroom management before. Some people are autocratic and control freaks. Some are lasseiz faire and enjoy organic teaching. Some people trust their students not to misbehave and in return the students repay this trust. Other teachers demand respect without earning it. However you like to teach and whichever style suits you best is fine as it is what you are most comfortable with that works.
Lesson Plan is Important
One thing that is the same amongst most classrooms and teachers is the need to tailor activities around safety and not to fly too close to the sun. Whilst I enjoy active games that get the whole class working at one time, talking, perhaps moving around together, accidents can still happen. I remember once we were writing the diaries at the end of class and with no one around her, a girl tripped and broke her arm. These things can happen and they can happen out of nowhere, but it is vitally important that you think of your lesson plans with this in mind.
Watch Out For Yourself As Well
Having also broken my arm recently and gone back in to teaching quite soon it is important that you think of your own safety too. From experience here there have been a few instances of teachers dislocating fingers, teaching on crutches, with casts on their limbs. Some of the bigger children, if they’re running around can be quite heavy if they step on your ankle or hit you by accident after an injury. Changing or slightly altering a game can help your children enjoy a game more and can also make for some amusing results. If you play a game which is normally played with speed, try banning running, introduce heel to toe walking and it can pretty funny watching students take care in their step. Alternatively you can place hazards on the floor, call them booby traps or lava and have the students navigate around the floor space carefully this way and it can reduce the chances of children colliding.
Know Your Students
Simultaneously, whilst it is important to teach English, we are also creating an atmosphere where children can learn about themselves; learn to express themselves and to also interact with each other – the last one being more integral being in China where many students won’t have any brothers or sisters. In one case I remember having a troubling issue with a violent six year old, who liked to lash out or spit at others. He was an incredibly smart child and perhaps needed something more challenging. In the end it was discussed with the parents in a warts-and-all meeting and they actively encouraged us to put him in to a higher level, not only because it would challenge him educationally, but also because they thought the older, and bigger, children in the class above would not tolerate his antics quite like his current class.
Feel the Pain
Overall, you can bubble wrap children as much as you want, but sometimes the best advice is to just let them get on with it, get hurt and see what it means to feel pain. As Batman’s dad would say ‘What do we do when we fall off the horse? We get back on’.