Becoming a better teacher

Renato Ganoza for EF Zhengzhou

1. Observe each other as much as possible. This is important. Learn how other teachers introduce topics students struggle with. Watch how teachers interact with and manage students. Give each other constructive feedback and share plans. 2. Ask our Chinese staff. They know the stresses students face. They know the choices students have. They know how students prepare in their schools for tests and quizzes and exams. None of us is as familiar with the Chinese educational context as our Chinese staff. 3. Take careful notes of what works and what doesn’t. Memory is fallible – especially over the course of a week. 4. Be sensitive to feedback. Are students bored in your class? They shouldn’t be. Keep the pace moving and the content challenging. Do parents complain about your class? Does administration? Isolate problems and work to correct them. Pay very close attention to written complaints – in many cultures writing something is indicative of serious thought. 5. Read as much as possible. Read books on Chinese culture to better understand your students and environment. Read books on teaching to better understand your role and responsibilities to students. Read books on English – English is your subject matter. 6. Seek challenges. Challenges are opportunities for growth. Teach students in new age groups. Teach students with special needs – students with speech impediments or learning disabilities. Make every class a challenge to yourself to excel and develop as an educator. 7. Forget “culture shock.” Everyone believes they are acting rationally. Everyone acts in their own self-interest from their unique perspective. This perspective comes from their environment and education. Don’t puzzle over anyone else’s actions. Don’t ever become angry. Try to find the reason they act the way that they do.

Why? Good teachers are highly marketable. The best TEFL certification courses require six hours of observed class time. A teacher working for EF under a full-time contract will log nearly one thousand hours in a year. Those hours are what you make of them.

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