Developing Teachers.com
A web site for the developing language teacher

Teaching Tips 161

A Management Checklist II
Working with triads

A Management
Checklist II

Last week we looked at some of the points in the classroom
management mindmap that I give out during the first few days of
teaching practice on Cambridge ESOL CELTA course.

You can see the mind map at:
http://www.developingteachers.com/tips/tp_day1_mm.htm

Mind map - tp day 1

And here is the list again in linear form:

The students:
- strong v weak
- extrovert v introvert
- names
- late arrivals

Teacher talk
- grading
- speed
- echoing
- instructions - checked
- wait time
- explanations

Feedback
- content & language
- elicit from a few

Teacher position
- sitting
- standing
- monitoring - helping out
- eye contact

Student talk
- how much? - 20'' rule - all students speaking
- std-std explanation

Class shape
- all see each other
- empty chairs

Materials
- photocopies
- copyright
- handouts after instructions

Boardwork
- set up - vocab crop up column
- lower case v CAPITALS
- different colours
- planned?
- clarity

Start & finish
- menu - preview
- review

Teaching presence
- project
- smile
- nerves

Last week we briefly looked at the students, teacher talk & feedback.

Here are a few more comments:

Student Talk
In a past Tip a couple of weeks ago we looked at the 20 second
rule:
http://developingteachers.com/tips/pasttips160.htm

On being asked a question by a student try to ask the group if anyone knows the answer & let them do the explaining. You'll be surprised at how many actually do know. These std-std explanations foster good group dynamics & a healthy learning environment.

Class Shape
We usually use a horse shoe configuration as it enables all to see & interact with each other easily. And as students come in, they choose where to sit. This can cause the problem of having empty chairs in the semi-circle so that the teacher, instead of dealing with one group, is teaching two groups of students. So get the students to fill the chairs from the middle out, add them on the ends as they come in, so you end up with one group in front of you.

Materials
An important area of planning & execution. Photocopies must be professionally presented so that it is not sufficient to simply photocopy a page of the coursebook to hand out. Students usually have a wad of copies that they are never going to look at again. Make a 'master', cut out what you are really going to use & stick it onto a page, give it a title & put the author's name, book name & publisher at the bottom - the copyright. And if more than one page is required copy back-to-back to make it all as efficient as possible & save a few trees at the same time.

When using a photocopy with an activity, it is common for teacher to give the copy & then the instructions. Change this around, give instructions for the task, holding up the copy & point to what they are to do & then give out the papers. This way they aren't all busy looking at the copies & not listening to your instructions with the result that you have to give your instructions again.

Boardwork
The white/blackboard is an extremely useful aid so needs consideration. When beginning the lesson put a column on the left for vocabulary that crops up through the lesson & leave the remainder of the board space for use in specific stages of the lesson. In the planning for the lesson, plan what is going on the board, put it down on paper so that you can simply copy it onto the board, rather than working out how to do this on the spot. You want to make it as attractive as possible, & if you expect the students to copy it down, as usefully laid out as possible.

Use capitals for headings & lower case for the rest, & use different colours to make it all visually appealing. When you have finished the board work, stand back & take a good look at it & see what the students are doing with it. The idea that garbage in, garbage out is very true here - the better it is, the more useful it will be for the students.

Also during a lesson teacher feel a need to write a lot of unplanned stuff on the board, it's a kind of knee jerk. Before you do write on the board, take a moment to really think if it is necessary to put it on the board. You'll find you'll save yourself quite a bit of time.

Start & finish
At the beginning of the lesson put up the menu at the top right of the board. This is just a few notes, the headings of the different stages. Show the students what you are going to look at during the lesson - the preview. And as you move from stage to stage point this out, using the menu to signpost the change. At the end go through the menu, eliciting what you covered - the review. It's amazing how little they actually remember.

Teaching Presence
Keep monitoring how you come across to the students. If you are a shy person, you may need to make an effort to project yourself, or put on a persona for the classroom. Smiling always helps - people react positively to people who smile.

So these & last week's points go to make up management points at the beginning of the course. There are more things that crop up but these tend to be the main ones initially.

If you are interested in a Cambridge ESOL CELTA training course, do check out the courses in Madrid at the British Language Centre:
http://www.british-blc.com/ttrain/celta.htm

Back to the contents

Mind map - tp day 1

A Management
Checklist

On the Cambridge ESOL CELTA courses that I work on we get the trainees to teach on the second day of the course. This can be quite daunting as they may never have been on the teaching side of a
classroom before. So the fist few days is focusing on helping them to be comfortable in front of the students & work on their classroom management.
The trainees have a seminar session on classroom management before they teach. However it is one thing to talk about it & another to do it. Teaching ten students & being observed by seven people can be a daunting task & remembering what to do & reacting on the spot is difficult. In the feedback afterwards I give out a mind map which you can see at:
http://www.developingteachers.com/tips/tp_day1_mm.htm

Mind map - tp day 1

This is used as the focus of feedback during the first few days of the teaching. Here is the list in linear form:

The students:
- strong v weak
- extrovert v introvert
- names
- late arrivals

Teacher talk
- grading
- speed
- echoing
- instructions - checked
- wait time
- explanations

Feedback
- content & language
- elicit from a few

Teacher position
- sitting
- standing
- monitoring - helping out
- eye contact

Student talk
- how much? - 20'' rule - all students speaking
- std-std explanation

Class shape
- all see each other
- empty chairs

Materials
- photocopies
- copyright
- handouts after instructions

Boardwork
- set up - vocab crop up column
- lower case v CAPITALS
- different colours
- planned?
- clarity

Start & finish
- menu - preview
- review

Teaching presence
- project
- smile
- nerves

A lot of the above is self- explanatory. We looked at the 20'' rule in the Tip a couple of weeks ago. Here are a few comments on the first couple of points:

The students:
Focusing on the students to begin with is the appropriate starting point. This involves first seeing if their names are remembered & then discussing abilities & whether personality can sway perceived ability ie the more outgoing the student doesn't necessarily mean that they have a stronger level.

And how do they cope with late arrivals? There is a tendency to see that the late arrival is catered to as soon as they come in. Maybe we should just let them settle & sort them out when a convenient time arises. After all, you might alienate others by stopping everything for the late arrival - the others arrived on time after all.

Teacher talk:
With teacher talk the importance of grading & slowing down a little while at the same time as sounding as natural as possible is discussed. For complicated instructions, trainees are encouraged to write out the instructions & then get rid of all the unnecessary language so the clear succinct instructions are left. And then how are they checked - simply asking 'do you understand?' is inadequate as students may say 'yes' anyway. Asking students to reformulate them or give an example are alternatives. And then not all instructions do need checking, it can get a bit patronising if everything is checked. Inexperienced teachers find it difficult to decide when they need checking or not.

Within teacher talk there is the idea of 'wait time' - how long do you wait for the students to respond to a questions? We tend not to wait long enough. They have to process the question, think of an answer & then think how they might respond in English, a process that takes longer than native speakers. Mentally counting to ten before jumping in is a strategy.

Echoing is a natural response to students - the student says something & the teacher repeats it. This is fine if the student says it wrong & it is being corrected but if it is clear then echoing tends to devalue the utterance with the student wondering if she said it wrong.

One of the major difficulties when starting to teach is being unable to gauge the level of the students - what do they know & don't know? And as they don't really know they tend to elicit & explain the obvious, with the students wondering, as it is so obvious, if they have missed something! Also not knowing the students' mother tongues gets in the way - cognates are explained & false cognates/friends are missed.
And then when explaining, what are the advantages of giving the word & eliciting the meaning or giving the meaning & eliciting the word. And what about a context & how are the meanings checked?

Feedback:
With the feedback point, two types of feedback are discussed, content - about the purpose of the task - ie whether they achieved a conclusion etc - & language - feedback on language used in the task, both positive & not so good feedback, together with some correction. On a CELTA course we wouldn't expect trainees to correct efficiently until a way into the course as it is a tricky area.
And then when getting feedback, it is not necessary to elicit from everyone in the group. Or it might not be necessary to elicit at all if while monitoring the teacher sees that everyone has all the correct answers.

I'll look at the other points next week.

Back to the contents

Triad

Working with triads

Last week we looked at the students speaking to each other at the very beginning of the lesson. As an extensiuon, here's one fo the very early Tip about the veruse of pairwork & the triad variation

No, I'm afraid it's not a job advert. Don't you get a bit fed up with putting the students into pairs all the time? More to the point, don't they get fed up? We try & vary it by moving the students around so they get to talk to someone else but it can all be a bit predictable.

Putting the students into threes is a versatile option. It helps with group dynamics & gives a breather from predictable pairwork.

Roleplays become a lot more interesting in threes as it becomes much more than a two-sided conversation. Write your rolecards carefully & you'll find you won't be able to stop them.

There's a lovely activity in 'Conversation' by Nolasco & Arthur (OUP) that shows how triads can be used for awareness-raising activities. The students' briefs are; student A has to talk about some anecdote, student B has to interrupt as much as possible & student C has to write down all the instances of interrupting that s/he hears. Student A doesn't know what the other two are doing. The pair talks for a while, student C makes notes & at the end C explains the notes s/he made & then a general class feedback takes place with the ways of interrupting being collated on the board.

You have shown the students how much they know about an area of the speaking skill & now you can go on to some tape work to introduce more ways of interrupting. It is a bit of 'test-teach-test', with the first 'test' highlighting the students' needs. A technique that can be used again & again when looking at the sub-skills of speaking (e.g. techniques for holding the floor, getting back to the point etc.) & listening (ways of asking for clarification, signalling that one is listening etc.).

To get hold of Conversation - R.Nolasco & L.Arthur (OUP)
Amazon.co.uk
http://www.amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos/ASIN/0194370968/
developingteache
Amazon.com

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0194370968/
developingteac0b

Problem-solving activities are more interesting. Imagine you've got your elementary students discussing the differences between the present perfect & the past simple - one of the three is likely to have the answer. Ah, but one of them is going to take a back seat & let the other two do all the work, I hear you cry! It doesn't really happen like that - and it all depends on how you set it all up. And anyway, why not let them take a back seat at times. A friendlier approach to a challenging task.

Any pairwork activity can be changed into a three & as well as providing a change of interaction, it will probably end up being more productive

---------

The World Cup
The World Cup is over & clearly the best team won. If you are after material, have a look at 'The best XI stories of the World Cup' from the Independent website:
http://www.independent.co.uk/sport/football/news-and-
comment/the-best-xi-stories-of-the-world-cup-2024817.html

Back to the contents

To the Past Teaching Tips

Back to the top


Tips & Newsletter Sign up —  Current Tip —  Past Tips 
Train with us Online Development Courses    Lesson Plan Index
 Phonology — Articles Books  LinksContact
Advertising — Web Hosting — Front page


Copyright 2000-2016© Developing Teachers.com