Teach English in Tongmu Zhen - Huaihua Shi

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The nature of the job as a teacher is that we are presented with a vast range of individuals with a unique constitution. This, in turn, means that every student will respond and behave differently in the classroom. The spectrum is vast: From the student who is “all in” and engages in every single, ever so small activity and raises their hand to each question. To the student who remains silent the entire lesson and if asked to e.g. read a text out loud, will read so quietly that it is barely audible. Our job as a teacher is to respond to our students according to their needs and their individual character. What does that mean exactly?

From personal teaching experience, I have found that not only does every student have a different character and style to engage in class, but every single class will have their very own dynamic too. It is like a compound of characters that come together and create their own mechanism. Depending on the constellation of characters, it can go particularly well and push the quiet person to become rather confident in utilising a foreign language, or in another scenario, lead a whole group to adapt a silence approach. I believe that as a teacher my job is to analyse my students as individuals as well as the group as a whole. If there is one student in the classroom that is a lot quieter than the rest of the students, I as the teacher, have to ensure to use an approach that is differently tailored to those students than the rest of the group. This approach could mean speaking with a softer voice with that particular student, producing more eye contact, giving plenty of positive reinforcement and encouragement when they do speak or even if they just try to speak, and making them feel as if they belong to that classroom just as much as the rest of the group. Especially for the introverted/shy person confidence is a process that has to grow gradually. 

Another important factor to take into consideration when aiming at building a student’s confidence is to take into the account cultural background. That does not mean to shovel students into a box and label them by their country of origin, but rather, to make sure we as teachers are culturally informed. By that, I mean that we don't assume that every student will respond in the same way or take as much time to start speaking English. Moreover, some students may even utilise different alphabets. It is important that those students receive a teaching style that tailors to their cultural background. My point is that I may not be able to list “five different approaches to build confidence in students” but rather, I want to highlight the importance that every single student and every single group is very likely to be different. I as the teacher have to remain flexible and sensitive to the needs of my students and adjust my teaching style according to those factors. I might be the “loud, funny, spontaneous” teacher in one classroom, and the “calm and soft-spoken” teacher in the next. However, at the end of each lesson, I want my students to walk out of the classroom and feel seen and accepted for who they are.