Before and above all things, a teacher is expected to be professional. The company you work for expects it, your colleagues expect it and without exception, your students expect it. If there is one thing that you must learn, it is that you can never compromise on professionalism. Like respect, once lost, it is almost impossible to recover. Given the importance of professionalism, it is absolutely essential that you understand that professionalism does not start and stop inside the classroom. Indeed, it began when you accepted the position of English foreign language teacher, and though this is not meant to be a lecture, you must take stock of what it means to be a professional teacher, for only in understanding this will you be able to succeed in the year ahead.
Being a professional teacher is all about acting the part. The following list indicates the actions of a professional teacher.
- Be prompt and punctual at all times.
- Never lose your temper. Being patient and tolerant allows you to solve problems.
- Visit the classes of your colleagues and respond to your DOSes' guidance and advice.
- Attend all training sessions and take steps to keep your teaching knowledge as up to date as possible. Do not allow your teaching to stagnate.
- Evaluate your teaching tactics frequently through self-criticism, which is highly constructive and leads to better teaching.
- Create a relaxed atmosphere in your classroom in order to encourage full student participation.
- Discipline and firmness are extremely important especially when students practise group work. The relationship between you and your class can have a major impact on your students' attitude towards learning English.
- Spend time with the weaker students in your classroom: They need your help and encouragement
- Monitor effectively when students practise group activities. Do not be indifferent as this makes the class noisy and spoils the aim of the activity.
- When students practise activities, appoint group leaders to keep order and direct the work.
- Be creative because much of a teacher's success depends upon his/her imaginative power, originality and creativity. Teaching is more of an art than a science.
- Plan your lessons thoroughly. We get many complaints that the teacher is unprepared - your students are not fools they know when you have not prepared!
- Be active. An active teacher means an active lesson. Avoid being indifferent because this leads to boredom in the classroom. Make your lesson enjoyable because enjoyment is a key factor in effective learning. Remember that what one learns through enjoyment, one never forgets. We get many complaints about boring teachers.
- Give homework regularly and always check and analyze it.
- Tests reveal points of weakness. It is part of your job to analyze all test results in order to prepare the required remedial work and exercises for dealing with these weaknesses.
- Move from the known to the unknown gradually and logically, because this aids understanding.
- Involve your students in authentic communication situations, which encourage a continuous flow of speech.
- Give your students every possible opportunity to use the language they are learning. Make your teacher talking time (TTT) both useful and effective.
- Make the lesson student centred, not teacher centred.
- Teach the language in appropriate contexts. Relate what you teach to real life.
- Use your teaching resources (board, cassette player etc.): They save time and effort.
- Use effective methods of error correction. Always look at what your students have achieved rather than at what they have failed to achieve.
- Do not interrupt your student to correct mistakes while she/he is speaking because it confuses and embarrasses her/him and makes her/him withdraw. Remember that fluency comes before accuracy.
- Be accurate when evaluating your students' achievements. The marks you give should be in line with the real standard of the class.
- Begin your lessons with a short warmer. Warm up activities create a positive atmosphere and allow latecomers to arrive without causing disruption.
- Written work should be carried out in class at least once a week.
- Give your students many good examples to analyze before asking them to produce a written piece.
- Remember that frequent exposure to authentic recorded materials improves their oral performance. Good input = Good output!
- When speaking with your students, do not insist on getting full answers. Short answers are the norm in natural communication.
- Always present the new material in meaningful situations.