A good teacher is born or made? Regardless of the side you take in this debate, we can always improve our skills and become better and more reflective with experience and continuous training.
Most of us have chosen to become English teachers after acquiring professional teaching qualifications. But after some initial training, we need to regularly update ourselves through continuous professional development. As teachers we must think of our development as worthwhile investment. Not only it benefits us directly, but also our learners indirectly.
Our efforts require lifelong interest and passion. We have to be good enough to teach at home and worldwide and that requires some skills that we need to consistently work on. We need to constantly skill up and excel in our day to day teaching activity. In order to do that, we have to start with some perspective on our overall performance. We have to ask ourselves,
Do not confuse measuring tools that help you self-regulate the teaching process with micro management. Any teacher needs some input on their performance, as objective as possible. Feedback from students and indicators on how all parties involved in the teaching process interact with each other and with the system are of vital importance for guaranteeing high standards.
1. Students' progress: learners are aware in real time on how they've performed after each activity. They can follow up on their progress anytime through their app. We register what the students know and what they don't know yet in order to provide practice only for what they don't know.
2. Students' after class practice: learners can practice and review content for their level through a game in their app.
3. Students' perception and feedback on the teacher and the class: learners can evaluate the punctuality, preparation and system usage of their teacher and send comments, which the teachers receive preserving the student's identity.
4. Teachers' evaluation of the system: in each class teachers evaluate the activities they've taught (1 to 5 stars) and the content acquisition by the learners (what they've learnt, what they still need to reinforce).
5. Teachers' usage of the system: how many activities were used in each class, of which type, which ones they reject and which ones they teach or don't teach, what the pace of the class is.
6. Teachers' improvement rate of activities: since our system is based on an ever evolving collaborative lesson plans, we can keep track of all improvements and the outcome of them. That is, how better the activity is after the improvement.
and more and more indicators are available with graphs that point out individual performance compared to average performance and goals.
All teachers confess that they would benefit from further training and while they are interested in learning new methods and approaches, an outstanding issue is still grammar awareness. Our functional approach to it is the safety zone for many of them and yet, in general, stats show that teachers allocate more teaching time to vocabulary and topic activities over structure activities. Although teaching grammar rules as such is no longer an operating practice, structures will always be the building blocks of a language and we have to work on students’ accuracy. Our tip? Take Paul Briant's advice and prepare and research unfamiliar content before you teach any activity.
Here are some revealing data on how we learn, which have changed some of our teachers' perspectives to teaching and learning, as in Billy Thompson's case. According to a recent research, we learn:
5% from a lecture
10% from reading
20% from audio-visual learning (video, series)
30% from a demonstration
50% from group discussion
75% by applying what you’ve learn
90% by teaching others
And let's finish with some good news for Spanish learners. As soon as a Spanish speaker learns proper English pronunciation, he already knows a thousand words, the so called cognates.
The conclusions from this research are self-explanatory. If we pay attention to pronunciation patterns, if we ensure student talking time with variety of practices including discussions, demonstrations, debates and after class practices relevant to the learners' day-to-day activity, we can accelerate the language acquisition process for our students with an effortless language usage and enjoyable learning environment.
Some final considerations that can help our students learn better and faster. Simply to aim at getting more and more input. If we increase exposure to English, we’re decreasing our chances to forget what we’ve learnt. This exposure can well not be ordered, but more chaotic, such as random readings, videos, films and series. No matter what the chosen channel is, increase input to the maximum.
The teacher's interaction in class will always be the best quality exposure for the learners. It is in our hands to improve and excel as professionals choosing the channels that will benefit us the most.
In Oxinity our doors are open for all the teachers who want to skill up, learn new systems and models, share their experiences with other professors and work collaboratively and being rewarded only for their teaching time. The rest is on us!