Wednesday, April 1, 2009


One thing that I think is extremely important in being an ESL teacher is organization. I'm taking this Korean class and while I like my teacher and think she's generally got her stuff together, I definitely notice when she has the few moments of grasping around for the next thing or filling time. And once that happens, in a big class, the students will just start talking amongst themselves and you've perhaps lost them for the next few minutes. Anyway, this Korean class has made me notice these moments a lot more in my class. Some things I do to stay organized:

1. I keep everything I need for teaching in one bag and I use this same bag everyday. A whole box of markers and chalk, a few pens, my attendance paper folder and the 2 books that I use in class. They almost never leave the bag. This is the best way not to forget stuff you need to teach I think and spend panicky minutes running around before class.

2.I never do the listening activities in the books because I find they take too long to prepare and require a good amount of organization that I'm not willing to spend the time doing. I think my students need the speaking practice more anyway and can get listening practice in other ways besides the CD from the book. And the "rental CD" players are kind of notorious for not working at my uni.

3. I keep my lesson plan on a single piece of paper. This is better than flipping through the book trying to find the next thing you want to do.

4. I come to class early...usually about 10 minutes so I can do attendance, check homework and deal with any questions even before class time officially starts.

5. I'll do the things that are heavy on the "on the board" writing at the beginning. Like if there are vocab words or something that will take a significant amount of time to write, I'll have it up on the board even before the class starts. This is also good because most of the students will read it and look up words they don't know without you even telling them to do it.

6. I'll usually get students started on some sort of group or pair activity and be writing up the next thing on the board that I need for the lesson. This is entirely possible with a little planning and in my classes, students almost never have to wait while I write stuff on the board. It's pretty easy to keep an eye on the activity situation while you write as well.

7. Another time filler is checking answers. I'll often write them on the board while students are doing the same activity. This is much faster and more accurate than going over the answers together.

8. Powerpoint? My thoughts are that it's potentially a time-saver but it could also go the opposite way. It depends on how good your technical skills are and how good the equipment at your school is. It kind of stresses me out to plan a lesson around this in case something doesn't work out with the equipment so I usually think of some backup things I can do, just in case. And it will just take a lot longer to prepare but it's perhaps not worth the time investment in terms of class enjoyment, learning, etc.

Any more ideas on how to make the best use of class time?

1 comment:

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