I have been a teacher for about fifteen years and have enjoyed it. Every occupation has its ups and downs but being a teacher is something special. What makes a good teacher? What do you need to know to be a great teacher? Many people have asked me about the secrets in teaching English as a second language. Even teachers have come to me wanting to know about what aspects are more important. Therefore I am going to state what I think are important areas which teachers should focus on.
First let me state the obvious. Teachers need to know English (DUH!), be patient, tactful, organized, creative, and reliable. However, there are many teachers that have these qualities and do not perform that well so I am going to share my insight regarding the issue.
In my opinion being a teacher is like being a showman. You are like a host of show. You are an actor and an entertainer where your class is the scenario and your students your audience. When I am in my class I become an entertainer. I transform myself into an extrovert character who wants to make the students have a good time. I put myself into the student’s shoes and imagine having to be in a class for two hours or more. I don’t want a monotonous teacher who has no passion for teaching. I want someone energetic who enjoys what they do so that I can also be influenced by that feeling. Honestly I can’t imagine having a serious unexpressive dull or repetitive teacher. No way. But I have to admit that what works for some may not work for all. Every once in a while I get students that want a reserved serious teacher but most of the time it is the opposite way.
Another important aspect is having a good time and bringing laughter into our classes. Learning does not have to be boring. We are learning a language which is a way of expressing emotions, feelings and opinions. We interact with other people and creating a fun environment in our classroom has worked well for me.
I have also noticed that many teachers live and die by the student book. I mean, they do all the activities in the books and they do all the exercises in the teacher’s book. There is no personalization and students find it difficult to relate. Personally, I do what works best for the group. One has to adapt and see what the students want because they are your audience and your clients. If the teachers only work with the student book then you become predictable and your classes become boring. If I were a student and had a teacher that only did the workbook then I would miss many classes because I can just stay at home and do the same thing! Where is the value in paying an English course if I could do it on my own? So come on teachers. Do some research. Bring extra materials, films, audio, role plays but remember to always have in mind what the students need.
Finally I want to end with something that one can’t study or learn in a course. One very important point that makes great teachers is experience. When I teach I know what to expect. In fact, I am always one step ahead of my students because I have learned through previous students errors. Experience allows teacher to make better classes. They can easily improvise and focus on many different points. In addition, they know how to handle a classroom better and have confidence when teaching.
I know that teachers have different ways and techniques and that what I have proposed might not work for other teachers. As a matter of fact, teachers have different personality traits which manifest different teaching approaches.
Being a teacher is something like a call. In class a teacher must feel comfortable and make students feel motivated to learn. But remember teachers are human beings and we have our bad days. We also have problems and although we should leave it outside the classroom sometimes we can’t completely. I love teaching and the day I stop having that feeling is the day I find something else to do.