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Teach English in Xingsheng Zhen - Baotou Shi
There are many methods, both personal and collaborative, that teachers might use to improve their confidence in the classroom. By properly preparing ESA lessons, setting SMART goals, and employing engaging activities, teachers prepare themselves with a solid foundation that encourages a collaborative learning community. The first and most obvious way to improve teacher confidence is to prepare lessons well and ahead of time. By reviewing class material and planning out the structure of a lesson with an ESA lesson plan, teachers solidify their knowledge of the material and better prepare themselves for instruction. The creation of lesson plans creates a flexible framework for the class, eliminating the possibility of confusion or “dead time.” How should a teacher create a lesson plan? The Engage, Study, Activate structure provides an excellent baseline. First, teachers gain the students’ attention in the Engage phase with brief discussions, miming, and other activities to get the students to start thinking and talking in English. Next, teachers often elicit vocabulary and study the day’s grammar lesson with worksheets or partner work in the Study phase. Finally, students apply the lesson with a creation of their own (e.g. presentation, debate, poster, creative project) in the Activate phase. Teachers can follow the ESA structure directly, use a Boomerang ESA structure, or use a Patchwork ESA structure. Certain types of lessons are suited to shorter or longer class sessions. It is up to the teacher to determine which activities are suited to the ESA structure and how to pair these activities with the English teaching goal of the day. Having reviewed the lesson material, the teacher merely requires a touch of ingenuity to create games or activities for a successful class. Second, teachers can use goal-keeping to measure improvements in their class. The SMART goal system encourages goal-setters to draft goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely. These factors make goals less nebulous and are more likely to be attained. Teachers can use smaller goals to comprise larger, overarching goals for their classroom. Some of these goals might be drafted in collaboration with students at the beginning of the class via a questionnaire (e.g. “what do you want to get out of this class?”) On the day-to-day or weekly level, teachers can draft and achieve small goals. Larger goals, perhaps elapsed over a semester or the entire year, can be evaluated at benchmark times. Goal-setting has two benefits. First, it better structures a teacher’s year. Second, and perhaps more importantly, it is a confidence boost for teachers who see their goals unfold before their eyes. While teachers may acclimate to their students’ successes in the classroom, goals help show just how far the class has come and encourage students and teachers alike. Lastly, teachers should use engaging activities that will reciprocate engagement. I have prior experience teaching English camps in China and Japan, and while the students were interested in learning, they were initially closed-off and intimidated until my fellow teachers and I introduced board races and other small competitions. Games are something of a universal language, and I was able to rally together with the class and encourage collaborative learning. Even though the students were competing against one another, we were all working toward a common goal. This example is just one of many that show the importance of engaging activities. It is no coincidence that the first stage of the ESA method is the Engage phase. Teachers ought to begin instruction with energetic, interactive time to draw students into the learning mindset. This culture of engagement is further fostered through elicitation activities in the Study phase and especially in the Activate phase. The engagement in the Activate phase is twofold because students are literally engaging with each other but are also wrestling with the new material of the class, which solidifies their learning. Additionally, almost everyone has a competitive side, and more reticent students can be brought out of their shell by classroom games and greater interaction with teachers and fellow students. In conclusion, teachers can utilize proper class preparation, engaging activities, and goal-keeping to improve their confidence. With this foundation and an appropriate selection of activities and learning materials, a teacher can lead a class with confidence knowing that they have prepared themselves well and are setting up their students for success.