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Eleri's advice


Disciplines > Teaching > Teaching articles > Eleri's advice

 Humor | No shit | Don't overtalk | Wrong-footing | No grudges | Respect | See also


Eleri is my wife, who taught for over 30 years. She was a very successful and much loved by her classes. here's her list of advice:

1. Keep a sense of humor

Don't get wound up by their antics. See the funny side of things. Be ready to laugh at yourself too.

If you have a sense of fun, then your lessons will be fun and they'll like coming and joining in.

This is number one because it has a  bonus side effect. If you can't laugh then you may well end up crying. Teaching can be tough and disappointing, and seeing the lighter side just makes it easier. If you can laugh, then you'll enjoy the job and if you're happier then the students will be happier too.

2. Don't take any shit

Discipline is a fundamental. You can't teach unless you have it. And trying to have fun without it is suicide.

Whilst you can have fun, you must always in charge. In fact the more fun you are having, the greater the discipline you must have to ensure that it does not go off the rails. Trying to be their friend is a path to losing control of the whole class.

'Shit' is a colloquial, evocative and, here, is appropriate. It does not mean you use the word in class, of course. It does, however, mean understanding when they are playing you.

Teaching at the edge of discipline is exciting and stimulating. The higher the discipline, the more the fun you can have. The trick is doing this with the lightest of touches. If you're always disciplining, something is very wrong.

3. Don't talk over them

If you want to talk and they are talking, ask for silence and then wait. If you are absolutely consistent with this and are prepared to out-wait them, then it will work.

Don't raise your voice because then it soon will become a shouting match. Use a 'teacher's voice' that you can project and that will be heard, but never bawl.

4. Wrong-foot them

Be different. Don't be predictable. Dress differently. Be unexpected in what you say and do.

When they can't predict what you will do, them they will be motivated to pay attention and always keep an eye on you.

5. Don't hold grudges

If they annoyed you last time, don't start by assuming that they will annoy you this time, because your assumption will make this so.

Start each lesson as if they are all willing and able to take part. Expect good behavior and you will be much more likely to get it.

6. Respect!

Treat them with respect and they'll treat you with respect. Respect their ideas, even if they seem stupid (unless you really are sure they're playing up).

Also ensure they respect one another. Do not stand by when there is sniping and contemptuous remarks across the classroom. Demand respect for everyone. Let them find out that you will always come down like a ton of bricks on anyone who is nasty to others.

This is last on this list but it's one of the most important points. Students know when you view them with respect or contempt, and will reciprocate. If you want them to respect you, then you must respect them -- all of them.

See also


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