Teach English in Juegang Zhen - Nantong Shi

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Undoubtedly, a teacher’s confidence in the classroom is crucial to the quality and effectiveness of both the process of teaching and learning. For this reason, and to make these processes as vital as possible a teacher would be interested to know the major factors which help increase her/his confidence in the classroom. From a general perspective, there are five aspects to which teachers should pay attention, work on and gain a good knowledge of. The first essential factor is the mastery of the subject matter that is having a metalinguistic knowledge of English. The second is being well prepared before classes. The third is that teachers should know their students. The fourth is being well rounded with effective classroom management strategies. The final factor is reflective thinking about teaching practices. Having a good metalinguistic knowledge of English is the first step towards teaching as only being a fluent speaker is not actually enough. Having or missing this knowledge will play a huge role in increasing or decreasing a teacher’s confidence in the classroom. Awareness of the English language phonological system, structure, forms, and components as well as how these components are interconnected with each other to convey meaning is important and necessary in teaching. Being able to simplify these language points to learners is an important key. That is to say if a teacher possesses enough knowledge to share with advanced students as needed and sees that they actually benefit from it and being of real use in the classroom beside the coursebook and other materials this alone would have a great positive impact on any teacher’s confidence. As solely being a fluent English speaker is not sufficient, so does only possessing a metalinguistic knowledge of English. However, preparation is of great importance in successful teaching as well as in boosting or eclipsing a teacher’s confidence in the classroom. Planning lessons beforehand based on the students’ needs, level and interests help to set objectives and techniques to fulfill them which as a response clear a teacher’s mind in knowing where is headed to. Not to mention, backup activities as a part of planning to deal with any sudden inconvenience or if an activity didn’t seem to help students to grasp certain language points as desired. All these steps promote productivity and good results and the whole process does play a significant effect on any serious teacher’s level of confidence in a teaching setting. In the previous paragraph, I mentioned planning lessons based on students’ level, needs, and interests. This would be possible only if the teacher actually knows the students, which as well is a must. The very first lesson or meeting with the students should be devoted to this purpose ‘knowing the students’. For instance, set up activities that are to collect information about each student’s age, level, learning style and intelligence (those who are good in memorizing words from those who are better in analyzing the language), motivation, interests, needs, and areas of difficulty with the language. It is vital to mention that knowing some details about students’ personalities and major characteristics (shyness, etc...) will be beneficial. Having this kind of information is ample to support and fuel assurance of teachers as it aids with good and appropriate planning besides dealing with difficulties that may arise with confidence and much ease. Gaining information about each individual student helps enormously with classroom management but, it is insufficient. Teachers should be equipped with a good and effective knowledge of classroom management strategies (techniques to facilitate the process of learning and the flow of activities) and be aware that through any teaching career disciplinary issues may take place during a lesson. It is substantial that teachers have the ability to manage and separate between disruptive behaviors and the individual student who act them and try to reflect on some causes that might be the source of such behavior. Nevertheless, sometimes the source of such a problem can be bigger than teachers to manage and in this case, they must refer to the school administration. Such awareness keeps teachers away from taking unpleasant interactions in the classroom personally in a way or another and prevents them from doubting themselves as mentors, therefore keeps their confidence at a high level. Productivity makes any individual, as well as teachers, feel confident about what they do. For teachers to be productive, they need to be critical towards their teaching practices. Tracking this process constantly after each lesson will absolutely make the next ones better. Through making notes about the efficacy of activities and techniques that were used to fulfill the objective of the lesson, teachers would for sure notice some weak and strong areas of their own teaching. Likewise, this reflective work leads to observing deficient spots and replacing them or working on making necessary improvements. This reflective procedure not only impacts teaching positively but also increasingly builds teachers' confidence in the classroom. Generally, these five aspects overlap and work together on the establishment of a teacher’s confidence in the classroom. However, confidence boosts may differ from one teacher to another. Accordingly, teachers should be passionate and search for ways to ameliorate their teaching skills continuously depending on their individual characteristics. That is fundamental to escalate their degree of trust in their practice, thus nurturing their confidence as teachers in any teaching setting. Much less, good practice always leads to progress.