Teach English in Lukou Zhen - Huanggang Shi

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Just as how the beginning of a film or novel lays the foundation for how someone perceives the future narrative, an immediate establishment of both style and voice as a teacher has the power to impact how students regard future lessons. To engage a classroom, and to hold this level of participation, teachers must be aware of how they interact with students on the first day of class. As a traveling after-school program teacher, I have taught dramatically varying student dynamics. Each week, I encountered a new combination of bright-eyed children, aged 4-12 depending on the curriculum. This format, although restrictive in some ways, offered me an opportunity to practice my first day impressions at a rapid turnover rate. My experience teaching children, in this way, has been enlightening: there’s a delicate balance between creating an atmosphere that inspires fun, creative learning, and one that demands control as an authority figure. In searching for my teaching voice, I first had to discover my point of harmony between these two personas. Mastering this balancing act is what sets apart a good or mediocre teacher from a great one. Creating an understanding between teacher and student, in other words, establishing rapport, has a powerful impact on how students engage with the lessons being taught. Establishing rapport begins at the most simple level of human connection: students can recognize when their teacher does, in fact, love their job, and also when they do not. They can identify when a teacher is underprepared, or when they make an extra effort in their lesson plan. A teacher, especially when teaching English as a second language, must be coherent, readable, excited, and engaging. However, enthusiasm and clarity are only efficacious when built on a foundation of respect. This is the key: to foster an atmosphere where students want to learn, where they wish to be better. They should feel connected not only to the teacher, but also to their peers. As a teacher, it is important to give rise to opportunities where students feel comfortable taking risks in the language while simultaneously respecting the teacher’s authority throughout. Creating an environment where students work in pairs or in groups, share their personal ideas and opinions, help each other, and recast mistakes as learning experiences allows students to engage and thrive. This cultivation of positivity is pivotal to encouraging participation, and it all begins with the teacher’s disposition and ability to control the classroom environment. The success of a class demands an effective student-teacher paradigm. This concept extends beyond the sphere of academia and into general human relations. A key factor to enacting effective classroom engagement is harboring inclusivity. From the standard concept of not letting one student—or the teacher—dominate the classroom discussion, to the less obvious yet nonetheless important ideal of addressing a classroom of students in gender neutral pronouns, these acts help shape a setting where all students feel comfortable participating. As an English teacher, establishing rapport becomes pivotal to language growth in students; a better classroom dynamic leads to augmented learning and confidence. In this way, rapport lays the foundation for how the student interacts with the entire culture that surrounds the English language. Ultimately, the ability for teachers to teach English effectively transcends the classroom setting and follows students as they apply their knowledge to real-life opportunities.