Wednesday, 13 June 2012

How being a teacher teaches crucial management skills

Any new teaching graduates  from any universities will be surprised to discover that teaching requires more than just knowledge of Piaget's, Thorndike's, Brofenbrenner's and Bordieu's theories. They will be shocked to experience that teaching actually requires more than just knowledge of the subject matters; linguistics, sciences, Mathematics, physics and etc. Teaching expects teachers to be effective and productive managers of students, workload, time and resources.

Some of the essential soft skills  required in the teaching world are never taught formally in university. They are  the things that we picked up indirectly during our college years ( all those late nights hours spent on finishing 3-4 unfinished assignments) . These are the things that we learned outside the lecture halls.  One of these soft skills  is management skills. To be an effective teacher is to be an effective manager and a manager is a legally accountable person, a planner, a supervisor, a facilitator, a controller, an adviser, a mentor, an evaluator, a role model and etc. The following are a few areas in where most teachers often have to take the role of  a "manager":

(1). Students Management Skills
     We learn to manage students when we become teachers. We learn to calm them down, we learn to get them to settle down and we learn to get them to carry out their duties. These require patience, calmness and clarity in speech (when giving orders and instructions). We need to handle their records, documents, certificates and etc. We need to keep track of their attendance to school and to inform their parents promptly if they are not in school. We have the "locus parentis" over the students while they are in school which mean we are the students' legal guardian in school and we are accountable for whatever happens to them while they are still in the school compound.

(2). Workload Management Skills
       Teaching is like an ice-cream business. You have everything; all the flavors, colors and textures. To stay on top of the game you need to know how to manage, blend and mix all these elements. Different teachers have different workload management skills. For example when it comes to marking exercise books, some teachers instruct students to submit their books for marking row by row ( a row a day). Others allocate certain days in the week dedicated solely for marking.  The school usually provide a yearly handbook containing calendars for all activities which make planning of work relatively easy for teachers. But no matter how good a teacher is with workload management, there will always be time when he or she feel overwhelmed because in teaching things can get very hectic. Workload crisis can be mitigated through prioritizing , delegating, delaying (the unimportant and non-urgent works)  and also if worse comes to worse by blocking off times solely to finish off all the important workloads (yes it still happens in the teaching world.Workload crisis didn't end when we receive our scrolls. In fact, all those experiences with the countless nights when we were suddenly transformed into coffee quzzling insomniacs due to unfinished college assignments will remind you that once again you need to go back to the basic-no matter what your post is, no matter how busy you are, you need to sit on the chair and sort out all the paper works.

(3). Time Management Skills
 Time is very crucial in teaching. Each subject is allocated a certain number of "teaching periods" which often last from 35 minutes to 45 minutes per period. A teacher has to optimize the usage of teaching periods to ensure maximum transference of skills or knowledge (or in layman term to ensure completion of the planned lessons for the day). Tardiness and absences from work will jeopardize the quality of the students' learning experiences. Thus, teachers need to manage their times well and to ensure that teaching times are fully optimized.

(4). Resources Management Skills
Without adequate resources teaching can be very dry. A teacher can't teach by "words" alone. A teacher needs some resources to go with his or her teaching. Resources may include colleagues, students, teaching aids, books, audio tapes, reference books, workbooks, presents for the students, fund allocation, times, places and etc. Sooner or later a teacher will have to be in charge of some resources either through his position as a class teacher, as a head of the department and etc. And to be effective and productive he or she needs to manage well all the resources made available to him.

So, are you a teacher now? Remember you are not just a teacher but also a Manager! isn't that great? A Human capital manager.

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Preparing ESL Students for Speaking Activities

2. The audience is not clearly set out too. Teachers often involve the whole class in the speaking activity and the students are not sure about who will listen to them when they finally get to speak as there are too many students for the teachers to pay attention too and times are also always limited. Teachers can actually divide a large group of students  into two and these two groups will take turns to be the presenters and the listeners while the teachers can act as prompter or facilitator.Teachers also may use  a video cam or  a voice recorder to record presentations from some groups if there are too many groups to monitor at the same time. The students can be asked to choose either to carry out their tasks with the teacher sitting with them, or to videotape or record their activities for the teacher to evaluate at a later time.

Here is a sample speaking situation from my own speaking lesson  that you can use with your students.

Task A
You and your friends are talking about the factors to consider when choosing a good life partner. In your opinion, what is the most important factor to consider when choosing a good life partner?
Candidate A: You think that family background is important factor when choosing a life partner. Explain.
Candidate B: You think that education background is an important factor when choosing a life partner. Explain.
Candidate C: You think that possess good personal qualities is  an important factor when choosing a life partner. Explain.
Candidate D: You think that financial background is an important factor when choosing a life partner. Explain.
Task B
You and your friends are talking about the factors to consider when choosing a good life partner. In your opinion, what is the most important factor to consider when choosing a good life partner?
i.                    Family background (rich, poor, nice people or mean people, town people or village people).
ii.                  Education background ( low education or high education)
iii.                Good personal qualities ( kind, honest, hardworking, responsible or lazy, mean, abusive, bad tempered)
iv.                 Financial background ( frugal, financially independent, no debt or has a lot of debt, lazy, can’t support self or others).