There are many factors that may affect our motivation and the desire to enhance our teaching skills. First thing that comes to mind is a certain degree of confidence and being aware of the principles we can rely on. Second, understanding the audience we are going to work with and their needs. To my mind, we need to constantly search for ways to enjoy what we are doing and to help our learners do their best.
What I want to discuss first is the importance of people skills. We are all different and our course participants may find our persona appealing or not. This is likely to depend on how well we can interact and deal with them. In my experience, the students or trainees appreciate personalisation of the learning process. They want to see that we are attentive to their contributions, keen on finding out about them, ready to give them support and encouragement, friendly and cheerful etc.
Some tips on building teacher-student rapport
- Consider collecting information about the students before and during the course. It might be worth creating a class profile where you can keep the information updated. This may include the learners’ background, their learning experience and preferences, their wants, needs and expectations, which might change during the course.
- Help the students get to know you and each other. You can use some ice-breakers at the beginning of the course and help them work with a variety of partners throughout the course.
- It may seem obvious but it is really important that teachers and trainers deliver lessons for a particular group of students instead of following the coursebook or syllabus blindly. We need to analyse the information collected about the learners and adjust the course materials accordingly.
- Using a variety of materials and techniques, developing both systems and skills, focusing on exam strategies if necessary can also contribute to the lessons that the students find useful and memorable, which I’m sure you will find rewarding.
Never stop learning
It is almost impossible to feel bored if you keep experimenting and searching for new ways to develop professionally. Some practical ideas will be the following:
- Finding a book to read or use. For example, you might have heard from your peers about a new publication, which is about something you are working on at the moment. Let’s say you want to know how to work with lexical chunks so Teaching lexically might come in handy.
- Using new coursebooks may help to add variety to the repertoire of teaching techniques. It is worth having a look at some new coursebooks and choose those that you can start using in your teaching practice.
- Choosing a teacher training course to apply for and do. There are plenty of opportunities for CPD that are free, e.g. courses at futurelearn, and those that will help you earn an international certificate such as TKT, CELTA or IHCAM.
- Choosing a teacher training event to attend. This may include online and offline conferences, one-day trainings or workshops.
- Focusing on experimental practice and self-reflection. This is ongoing and can be done at any stage of the teaching development. The more techniques and methods you know, the more you want to evaluate, try out and justify yourself.