It's All About Expectations (Yours and Theirs)
First-Day Brainstorming Helps Class Management, Says Caroline Gwatkin
Caroline Gwatkin, who teaches in Buenos Aires, Argentina,
recently posted advice for a first-time teacher on the TESL-L
listserv. She agreed to share her comments with the readers
of ESL MiniConference Online.
Mina Loudiki is approaching the first day of class and asks for help
in developing a positive rapport with students. I agree that one of the most important things to do is
to 'set the limits'. How can this be done without 'heavy handedly'
laying down the law?
The technique I use is brainstorming. I start by writing "your
expectations" in the centre of the board, drawing a circle around it,
and elicit from the learners what they expect from the course and from
me as their teacher. You may need to prompt them by asking about the
type of correction they'd like, amount of homework, percentage of time
given over to things such as group work, individual projects or whatever
you have already planned for the course. By the time you have finished
they will feel as though they have 'written' the course!
But the second step is even more important. After erasing everything
from the board you then write "my expectations" in the centre. Now you
have the chance to set the limits. 'Hand assignments in on time'
'listen to and show respect for the views of others' are obvious
choices, but you can also include 'smile when you understand' 'greet
me/everyone in English when you come in' 'keep me off red herrings'
'help me with time keeping' 'make sure there's a plug on the tape
recorder' etc. all of which will enhance your classroom management.
They (and you) should, of course, make a note of all this, which you can
refer to when things go wrong.
I hope this helps.
Advanced Studies Centre
Buenos Aires, Argentina
2002 ESL MiniConference Online