I want to start off by covering different important points of being a teacher. Many people look at teaching English in a TEFL / TESOL environment as just another job. The reality is that it will never be “Just a job.” Your responsibility as a teacher far extends those of simply punching in and out and going through the motions. During your time in class you are solely responsible for the future of those you are educating. You need to put your heart and soul into what you are doing and ensure that your students leave with what they paid for, expected and then some.
So what are the characteristics of a teacher that is competent and effective? Firstly and definitely most important is that a teacher needs to be competent and follow the code of practice for teachers. You need to ensure that you have a belief in the worth, individuality and dignity of each of your students. A commitment to truth , excellence and democratic principles and above all a dedication to the principal of equal opportunities for all your students.
There are 12 values or ideals that are critical to the success of any teacher and these must be strictly adhered to. These values or ideals are honesty, integrity, dignity, diversity, respect, trust, responsibility, accountability, care, protection, fairness and justice. Without these values we would never be able to provide the students what they deserve.
The points i have highlighted above are what I feel are the most important factors to consider when becoming a TEFL teacher but they are far from being the only things that need to be considered. Remember that your learners need to come in to the class and want to learn. Therefore it is essential that you build a good rapport with your students and that they trust you at all times. You need to foster an environment that encourages a constructive learning experience.
Your students are there to learn which means you need to have a clear understanding that their level of English is most likely nowhere near yours. This means that you always need to give clear instructions and lower your level of English to meet theirs. You also need to factor this in and factor in that your students have different personalities. This is important when correcting students. I will cover this in great detail later but you need to consider that correcting the shy student in your class in front of everyone else may simply cause the student to close off and no longer participate.
You have a responsibility to ensure that you are always prepared when you go in to a class. You need to ensure that you have a range of suitable material and resources ready that work well with students of different levels. You need to give the learners a sense of progress and adjusting your materials to suit your best student will frustrate those who are not at that level and simply making your lesson to suit the slowest learners in your class will make students at a higher level suffer from boredom and will hinder their desire to learn.
You need to frequently assess the abilities of your students in a fair manor that will ensure that you are successfully helping them progress through their learning.
You need to ensure that you use a wide range of different teaching styles and approaches while teaching at different stages. This will ensure that you keep your students engaged and interested. Above all else your most important role as a teacher is to facilitate and environment that allows for language learning and acquisition both inside and outside of the classroom by reducing Teacher Talking Time (TTT) as much as possible and increase Student Talking Time (STT).
There is so much that I could continue to write about on this topic and my intention is to expand on each of the items I have mentioned above. Telling you that you need to do something is easy enough but if I am not telling you the “How” then it is pointless. So for now I will end this and allow you some time to reflect on what I have said above. Think about the different aspects of what I have mentioned so that when I do expand on them you can compare your thoughts to mine and we can build a discussion on it. I would love nothing more than for someone to come and tell me that they think everything I am saying is wrong and tell me why. Look out for my next post on what different roles you and your students play in the classroom and as always please feel free to leave your comments below.