TEACHING BLOG

26. Using your time well

Do you ever feel rushed off your feet? Does you life feel like you are constantly chasing unattainable demands at work? Our life around school does not have to be like this. It is a matter of organisation and using our time well. With reference to time usage in teaching, it is important to specify what we mean by this term. I think it is essential to make clear that when we talk about time, we can seperate this into two sections, preparation time and class time.

Preparation time

Planning is an essential part of a teachers job, “Having a carefully constructed lesson plan in hand allows you to enter the classroom with considerably more confidence. Effective lesson planning, especially during your early days of teaching, rests heavily in good habits such as setting aside quality time for planning and putting the plan in writing” read more at TESOL planning. This is especially true for new teachers or when starting a new job in a new context. It is an issue of organisation and being clear with your goals. But what I want to talk about is the balance of time between planning and other parts of our job. Teachers generally work a lot of hours and it is one of those jobs where you never really disconnect. It is not a typical 9-5 job where you can leave your problems at the office. This is because it involves the well-being of people. Dedicated teacher spend much of their free time (and money in some cases), looking for ways to improve the way they carry out their job. This is due to the demands of the job, and also the pressures of government requirements. Teachers need to have a clear idea of how they prepare for their lessons and find the way that works for them. I have seen many different ways of planning but it is a very personal part of the job (although other teachers do need to be able to follow planning in the case of absence). Planning should be both specific and time effective 18. Which should be the main focus of your planning: vocabulary, grammar, exam technique? – How about the students!.

Another issue that needs to be mentioned is the creation of resources. A big problem in teaching is the making of resources that are of both of a good quality and specifically directed at fulfilling a learning goal. It is easy to spend hours of creating material for classes. My advice is to look for content at recognised resource makers or websites (see resources menus on this website) and also to keep a good resource bank. Experienced teachers always talk about the importance of keeping hold of resources (in an organised way) because you never know when they will come in handy. A method that I do NOT accept is simply following a course book without adapting material or putting in any personal touches. This is an AWFUL WAY TO TEACH, lacks effort and is not good for anyone.

Here is an example of some lesson plans for those of you who are interested.

        b2-plan                                a2-plan

In the classroom

Taking advantage of class time can feel like a constant battle, as not all of the determining factors depend on the teacher. We have external factors such as participation, attendence and the punctuality of our students. Let´s face it; when we plan a class, it doesn´t always go completely to plan and we do not always achieve everything that we had intended. While preparing a class, teachers should be making reference to time management, we normally have a clear idea of the time we wish to spend on each activity, and also allowing for other aspects of the class (explanations, tidying things away etc). With this in mind we can get a realistic view of what we wish to get done in a specified time frame. This brings us back to an issue of class preparation and planning (like I have mentioned earlier and in a previous post 2. The importance of planning and class preparation).

What a teacher needs to do is to create an effective teaching-learning environment, in which students seek to actively participate in class and take responsibility of their own learning. The key to this is collaboration. It is important for the teacher to build a raport with their students to make them feel valued and motivated, while also feeling supporte and well guided by the teacher. An important part of this process is for the student to feel like theu are making the most of their class time and that they are progressing. Regardless of age, level or background. Teachers need to organise classes so that they have clear structure and so that each activity has a specific purpose that will help students to advance.

What teachers need to try to avoid is always being the centre of attention, or as I like to call it, the centre of the learning experience. This is a key issue in language teaching because in my opinion, the role of the ESL teacher is not about what the teacher knows but more about how they can transmit their knowledge to their students and what they can help their students to achieve. This is due to the sheer amount of information that a language entails. It is impossible to study a language as if it were mathematics or a science as it is an arts subject and is, therefore, very flexible and subjective. With regards to my earlier reference about the teacher being the centre of the learning experience, you might like to think of it like this, “The tendency new teachers have to ‘lecture’ students probably comes from their own experience of learning at school. One of the tasks of a teacher trainer is therefore to help new teachers ‘unlearn’ the idea that teachers are people whose job it is to talk a lot”. Read more on this topic in the following link: BRITISH COUNCIL – TEACHERS TALKING TOO MUCH

Ok, that´s all for today. Speak soon

Advertisements

2 thoughts on “26. Using your time well

  1. Very insightful, love it! I tend to ‘lecture’ when I talk about the difference between different grammar points, or things like the difference between which and that and who, but I need the teenagers to listen to me just to get the point across. I try not to talk for too long, though. You know when you’ve been talking too long because they get restless, start whispering or worse, talking over you and throwing things. 😉

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s