TIPS FOR TEACHERS Elementary and common sense tips to make teaching easier and more successful. When asking a question, first ask the question, wait a few seconds to give learners time to think about the question and their answer, then give a learner’s name who has to answer the question. In this way every learner is given time to think about an answer and is thus involved. If you should say “Tom, give me the name of ….” Tom works up so much stress that he can’t answer – and the rest of the learners don’t even think about a possible answer! (This of course implies that you know all your learners’ names!) After completing a section of work, the teacher normally asks a few questions to determine the learners’ grasp of the new work. Never ask a question like: “Are there any questions?” In most cases you will get NO QUESTION which should not be taken to indicate that the learners have understood! It may actually be that the learners don’t know or understand enough to ask a question! Sometimes only one learner asks a question, which is not necessarily an indication that all the learners understand the work. It is much better for the teacher to ask direct questions to specific learners about the new contents (as indicated in the first bullet) – only then can the teacher really determine whether the learners understand or not. Here’s a clever and funny tip for learners who always want to borrow a pencil from the teacher: Lend them very small and dirty pencils! (Can you think why you do this?) To help the teacher with the marking of papers, get your learners into the habit of always handing in papers with the right side up on top of the pile. The teacher thus always gets the papers in the proper order for marking. Something old: For teachers who are doing playground duty or who have large classes (as many of you do), use a whistle to get attention – you will protect your voice! Some advice though: don’t use it too often. Display learners’ work in the classroom – it is a good educational technique as it motivates learners to have their work displayed. Remember to constantly change the displays to give other learners opportunity to have their work put up – thus your classroom decoration is always new. Make your personal file in which you keep letters from parents, DoE letters sent to you, letters you sent to parents – and especially any and all material relating to disciplinary actions taken against learners! Make a point of saying something good about at least one learner every day – and make sure that every learner gets a chance! It need not be the best performance – even a child who has shown even a tiny bit of improvement will blossom after being mentioned. It does not even have to be work-related, like - “ Dineo really helped me today by cleaning up the class.” - “ John talked so nicely to the new learner in our class – thanks, John.” Don’t remain standing in front of your class all the time – move around so that you are close to different learners from time to time, especially the more restless learner. If you want learners to take turns at individual tasks like reading or giving answers to exercises, walk around the class and softly tap the next learner on his/her head. Don’t do this in seating sequence, for in this way the learners will all be following the text – and not working out only his/her answer beforehand and not do anything more! ## Next time we will be looking at tips on how to “connect” to a difficult learner. Teach students to be organised – one can only do ONE thing at a time! When starting a new lesson, get the students to clear their desks so that their attention is not divided between the lesson and their possessions. To make sure you have students’ attention, walk up and down the rows slowly (don’t create nervous tension!) and stand next to a student who seems to be restless. It is also good to involve a disruptive student in discussions and to give praise for such efforts – the student will hopefully want to participate next time. When you are ready to start a lesson and the class is still noisy, stand absolutely quiet – they will start noticing you without your having to shout. Wait before you start using another technique. An excellent trick is to start whispering to some students who have already quieted down – we are all curious and cannot stand to hear a whisper and not be part of it! The students will start listening in an attempt to hear what is being whispered! Planning is the reason for success with your lessons. Always have 3 or more back- up activities prepared in case your initial activity doesn’t seem to work. The more you keep students busy, the fewer problems you will have. Work at a faster rather than slower pace – force them to pay attention. There are wonderful activities you can do to test whether students have really paid attention (or done their homework, etc). . . . more about this next time! Blackboard use: Try to write a summary or agenda of what you intend doing beforehand on the board so that students get an idea of what will be done. Never talk while writing on the board with your back to the class, as students might not hear what you are saying – otherwise, raise the level of your voice to ensure that everyone hears you clearly! Students feel very special when they are talking and you write certain key-words of their answer on the board. In this way you give importance to them and they feel valued. Use the top half of the board to ensure that even students at the back can see what you are writing, which should not be obscured by students sitting in front of them.