Teaching Tips 72
It is World Teachers' Day on 5th October
- a UNESCO promoted appreciation of teachers worldwide.
Here is their pat on the back message:
|On World Teachers’
Day, and on any other day for that matter, the basic
message that a teacher needs to receive is quite
simple. “We appreciate you”.
That message cannot be repeated often enough,
by those of us in the United Nations family and
by those who interact with you every day.
We highly appreciate you having chosen this profession,
one so fundamental to society, and the fact that
you continue in it, despite – and often
because of – the challenges you face. We
value the initiatives you take in opening doors
of knowledge and tolerance for each girl and boy.
We are aware of what your profession demands of
you, of your responsibilities and of your rights.
We acknowledge the difficulty of your task, and
the fact that it takes professional training and
a decent work environment to teach well. We appreciate
the care you take to direct your knowledge at
children with special needs, and your awareness
that all students have individual needs. We value
your ability, developed through training and experience,
to listen to your students and to shift the responsibility
of being a learner from your shoulders to theirs.
In sum, we appreciate you, and we call upon parents,
community leaders, business people, trade unions
and government officials, especially educational
authorities, to find a way, this World Teachers’
Day, to tell you just that, in their own words
and in their own way.
- Koïchiro Matsuura, Directo-General, UNESCO
- Juan Somavia, Director General, ILO
- MarkMalloch Brown, Administrator, UNDP
- Carol Bellamy, executive Director, UNICEF
UNESCO have started a teacher education
All can be found from the UNESCO Education
On to this week's Tip - Among the many
roles that we carry out in class, one of the most interesting
is that of 'monitor'. We monitor all the time &
here we are concerned with monitoring oral activities.
This is when we can assess our students' performance
in relation to general progress or recent language &
skills development. Learning doesn't develop in a straight
line & neither can it be programmed so monitoring
throws up surprises all the time.
One of the problems I hear quite a lot
is that the teacher can't hear all of the students.
With ten students in the class, if you position yourself
in the middle of the class, you can usually hone in
& out of the different conversations. For larger
classes, you clearly need to get around & sit in
different places in the room. Try to be unobtrusive
& site near several pairs or groups & hone in
& out so that one group doesn't feel you are just
listening to them.
Do you sit in front of the students or
can you get round the back, behind the students? The
less obtrusive the better, so round the back & out
of the line of sight would be generally better.
If during the controlled practice activity
the students are making mistakes with the target language,
get in there & correct so that it is an accuracy
based activity. For some correction techniques: Getting
it right at the beginning
And when monitoring the freer activity, what do you
do when a student asks you a question as an aside, or
stops the group activity to ask you a question? This
depends on the activity but before the task, explain
your role so that questions might be kept until the
end. Get the students to take notes while they are involved
on things that they wanted to say but couldn't. You
can then attend to these after the activity.
While monitoring freer activities, take
notes on their output for future correction & teaching.
Some teachers write down everything they hear &
analyse it later as they feel it is the only way to
do justice to the students' output. Others note down
mistakes & use these for correction after the task
or feed ideas from this into future lessons.
And then there is the idea of students
monitoring each other. All could be monitoring or one
in each group could be given the task & at the end
feeds back on observations of language or strategies
With large groups of younger learners
it can get out of hand if they either finish the task
or become bored & start playing around while you
are monitoring on the other side of the room. Keep any
eye on the class as a whole a dot around more frequently,
being more obtrusive than in an adult class. The election
of a group representative can also help keep the group
And then there is the opportunity for
micro-teaching when monitoring any kind of pair or group
work. It all depends on your aim for the activity &
what happens at the time.
What do you think? If you have any more
techniques or tips on monitoring please post for all to
use in the Forums.
The teacher is...
As a continuation of last week's Tip, here's an article
I came across this week from the Rockford Register Star:
key to a good teacher: listen, respect and learn
Barbour Language Academy teacher
Teresa Turner's students aren't the only ones learning
Picked this week by the U.S. Department
of Education as one of the nation's top 51 teachers,
Turner is a shining example for others in her profession.
The public should be inspired, too, by the skill
and dedication someone at the pinnacle of her art
brings to the work.
TURNER IS ELOQUENT in expressing her
philosophy about how she does what she does:
"Bottom line, you have to respect
the kids. You have to respect their families. You
have to respect where they come from. You have to
adapt to kids coming to your room. It can't be your
way; it has to be theirs. You are learning things,
but you aren't the principal learner -- it's the
The concept would seem to be obvious
and so simple, yet the shift in perspective that
puts children at the center of the education process
is one that other good teachers also recognize and
mention. They all mention a child-focused attitude
or belief that, they say, makes all the difference.
The Rockford Register Star profiles
two area teachers today whose students all met state
standards in math on standardized tests. The goal,
of course, might be 100 percent success in every
class, but reaching that mark is still rather unusual
for a number of reasons.
Several other area teachers, including
four at King Elementary School, Rockford's gifted
academy, also hit the mark. There may be more.
THE TWO FEATURED teachers talk about
their strategies. Janice Butitta teaches at Lewis
Lemon Global Studies Academy, where 75 percent of
the students come from homes with incomes low enough
to qualify the children for reduced-price lunches.
Butitta says part of getting good
results is expecting them. "You have to believe
they can pass. They all have the capacity,"
she said. Sometimes learning is hard work, she said.
Everything can't be "fufu" or fluff. She
gets her students to understand that the best reward
"It's exciting for them to think
and come up with the answers," she said.
At Creston Elementary School, in a
tiny farming town an hour south of Rockford, Tina
Samo quickly dispels the notion that she is the
magic ingredient in her students' success.
SHE IS SKILLED and dedicated, however.
She attends lots of classes to improve her teaching.
She minimizes or maximizes textbook use based on
how well the material teaches state standards. She
supplements the curriculum where she thinks necessary
to get her students up to snuff.
She and other teachers in the building
work together to make sure children are ready for
the next grade. And she's not afraid to borrow good
ideas from other successful educators.
Like Butitta, she expects students
to do well: "Kids will live up to and down
to your expectations," Samo said.
And that has to do with teachers'
attitudes, not the students'.
As Turner of Barbour and the
others so eloquently remind us: It's all about the
It is John Lennon's birthday on 9th October.
For a lesson plan:
to the contents
I'm sure we'd all like to be 'good/effective'
teachers - what do you think of this list of attributes?
The effective teacher;
likes people & working with people.
researches & tries to know as much
as possible about what is being developed & taught.
can organise people.
can motivate people.
uses the power of the
teacher with care.
can foster relationships between the
people in the group.
is capable of becoming part of the group.
is patient & considerate.
is realistic about progress, realising
that it is not always (usually?) what is taught that
is what is being 'learnt'.
is human, makes mistakes & has
off days, & admits this.
is interested in doing a better job.
Reading, research & development are considered essential
to the contents
time & a place
On initial training courses, trainees are told
that correction of oral errors & mistakes should be corrected
during the activity in controlled practice tasks where the
attention is more on form & after the activity in the
freer tasks so as not to interrupt the flow & allow for
attention to be given to meaning & less to form. OK, fair
enough but what about at other times in the lesson? And what
about the students themselves who probably want more correction
than they're getting. They may feel that this is what they
are paying for after all.
So, if you are going to correct at other times,
when will this be & what criteria are you going to use
for deciding what to correct?
Any time is probably a good time, so long as
it isn't distracting from the current task. If it's an aside
to an individual, you could leave it at that. It would be
very intrusive to stop everyone while on-task to explain a
If dealing with the whole class, it may be worth
correcting if you feel that the mistake is something that
the student should be able to get right or something that
all may benefit from a short focus on the point.
It does tend to be in the feedback stages when
students are reporting answers, solutions & outcomes that
problems occur. You don't want to stifle them so they feel
reticent about contributing but at the same time they do expect
correction & may well wonder why you let certain things
go from other students. This is a case, once again, of talking
to the students about correction; your criteria & their
feelings about correction. You will quickly come to a consensus
& they will be comfortable with you leaving mistakes,
or picking up on them & delaying them a bit.
Here are a couple of other Tips related to correction:
to stick the grocer's apostrophe
it right at the beginning
to the contents
the Past Teaching Tips