What Does the TEFL Trainer Course teach you about student motivation and classroom management?
Reflective Diary submitted by Max, Madrid.
Keeping a student motivated in the classroom is, in my opinion, one of the most important skills when it comes to being a teacher. I have found over the past few months that, in order to get the most out of your students, you must adapt to their needs and manipulate your behaviour to make them feel as confident and as comfortable as you can. In this way keeping a student motivated and managing your students are very closely linked. My classes are 1 to 1 and therefore there are definitely challenges that I have had to overcome during the last few months and have tested my abilities to manage the classroom.
In order to create a positive atmosphere I will engage in some small talk, not because this is an appropriate start to a lesson, but because I believe that getting to know what sort of individual your student is is essential if you want to know how to keep them motivated and to show you are investing time into them despite the student – teacher relationship. I keep these first few moments to also introduce myself and to keep the mood light and fun no matter how shy, anxious, excited they are. Allowing them to express a few opinions, I have found, has allowed to speak a bit more freely as the information is already formed and organised in their head.
To my knowledge, this approach has been incredibly successful and students have repeatedly asked for lessons solely with me, especially those wanting to take their english from B2 to C1 or even to C2. However, I would be lying if I said that I have not had any challenges and I will explain with a 2 case studies:
1) The Child Student
Although my approach with adults is extremely successful, my enthusiasm and personality can definitely be miss-interpreted by younger students and more specifically children under 12 years old. They see my behaviour as an excuse not to follow my instructions as my demeanour is fun and happy. This specific younger student would not engage with more technical information even in boiled down exercises and over the first few months I found managing this student incredibly difficult.
2) The Unprepared Examination Student
Throughout my time as a teacher on the TEFL Trainer internship I have found this class to be the most difficult. You have a student who is underprepared and you have to not only keep the student motivated, but also to keep yourself motivated and not to let the lack of progress eat away at your mood therefore losing some patience. One specific student came to the school and I was helping him prepare the TOEFL Exam. However, no matter how many times I broke down the basic structure for answering questions and no matter how much we went through all the past tenses, he would always speak in the present tense and it really got to me. I was trying to help and no matter how many approaches I took, he simply would not engage in the past.
As a result, I took advice from my head teacher who gave me some good advice and I looked at a website called Edutopia which helped me this two specific issues. In accordance with the first student I have learnt that setting the tone for a class especially with younger students and to be more authoritative when managing these students. The examination student I have learned to be patient and to break the mistakes down to a simple level, however, this is still a challenge that I am working on.