The academic year has started for some of us (and isn’t long away for the rest of us!) and after some well deserved rest for all us teachers it’s time to start thinking about how we can make the best of next year. As such, I thought it would be great to come up with a list of ways that you can improve as a teacher next year.
1. Set a list of goals for the next year.
Setting some goals can really help you focus and give you a checklist to see how you do at the end of the year. It doesn’t have to be a long list but put it somewhere you’ll see it regularly.
2. Set a reflective blogging schedule and stick to it!
Regular blogging is hard to keep up but having a set schedule can be a great way to focus your efforts. Start off with a low schedule and then you can always do more. oh and one more great tip for a routine. You are more likely to stick to a routine if you have a prompt that you always do before hand. For example, if you go for a run as soon as you get back from work you’re more likely to keep it up than if you just do it at some point in the evening.
3. Teach a lesson out of your comfort zone
Try doing a lesson that you wouldn’t normally. Perhaps this could be a level/nationality/type of class that you don’t like (kids groups for an adult teacher, advance classes for the teacher who only teaches beginners etc.
4. Observe a teacher
Watching another teacher is a great way to learn new tricks and ideas from other teachers. Sometimes watching them in action can make them stick more if you read about them. What’s more, there might be an aspect of their teaching which they take as second nature and wouldn’t normally mention, but by observing you can check it out yourself.
5. Be observed
The flip side of the point above, although people are usually lesson keen to be observed than to observe. However, being observed has it’s advantages too. When someone watches someone else they person being observed usually puts more effort into their lesson. Reflecting on the differences can point out some things that you have forgotten. Having to talk through why you did (or didn’t do) something is also very useful to reinforce knowledge and can expose you to the way someone else thinks and works.
6. Go to a conference
Conferences can be great.
- Sometimes you hear a big name speaker talk about something game changing.
- Sometimes you find new activities that you can’t wait to try out in class.
- Sometimes you research for a talk and learn more as you do.
- Sometimes it just great to enjoy the break and let your hair down with other teachers.
In any case conferences can provide some great features.
7. Hangout with other teacher
Hanging out with other teachers can be great on a few level. You can share exciting things about work and become rejuvenated during the long hard stretches of teacher. You can share disheartening experiences too, vent and then move on finally getting over an issue (or go round and round in circles getting more and more irate!) You can ask for advice about a problem you’re having. Or perhaps you can just talk about something other than teaching.
8. Ask your students for feedback
Sometimes getting your students feedback will provide you with more insight than any observation or reading ever could. Students can try to protect your feelings and try to hide when a bad lesson was…well bad! However, giving them a chance to say what works and what doesn’t can really help see things from your student’s perspective. It also allows you the opportunity to explain why you do certain things in class and help students to understand the benefits of certain activities (and reinforce why you as a teacher do something). (be warned you might not get the answer you’re looking for.)
9. Join twitter
I could go into great depth on why Twitter is great but instead I’ll hand over to Sally Millin’s webinar which includes a handy guide to sign up.
10. Attend #ELTchat on Wednesday at 12:00 GMT and 21:00 GMT
#ELTchat is a great way to share, listen and learn from teachers all around the world in a whole host of different contexts. It can be very overwhelming at first, as the tweets fly and different people talk about different issues but you get used to it after a while. Each week the two chat topics are voted for and then discussed for an hour.
11. Write up an #ELTchat summary
Writing up a summary for #ELTchat is a great way to go over a subject again, look through all the links and share the best comments people made. (oh and it’s also a great way to get people to visit your blog)
12. Learn a foreign language
As an English Language Teacher learning another language is great to help see through your students eyes and empathise with their journey. There are some dangers of “over-personalisation” but that can happen even without learning another language. What’s more, by comparing your language with another language you can find out about different learner difficulties and see your language from another perspective.
13. Join Itdi.pro
Itdi.pro has recently launched and has some great features. There is a great forum and some courses and lessons that you can buy. The blog has long been a source of inspiration for many teachers and their numbers include many well-known teachers and regular Joes.
14. Do a teaching course
Doing a training course can be a great way to focus on one (or multiple) area(s) of your teaching. This could be something like an International House certificate, the DELTA, or even a Ma in TEFL. There are lots of different options and with more and more moving online the option to do them whilst still teaching is becoming more present. Of course, some will be good to put on your C.V. and more for self fulfilment.
15. Read a book
There are loads of great teacher development books out there on such a wide range of topics. Such as the How to teach series or the Delta development series or even the good old Cambridge development series. I’m sure that one of these series has a book you haven’t read and could value. (of course for the more tech savvy who love ebooks there are the new offerings of the round to look forward to.
16. Read a journal.
There are lots of journals around, some of which are free to read online. Some have articles that other teachers have written ranging on a wide range of topics. Take for example the last IH Journal which can be found online here and has articles on Politeness with NNS interactions, Surviving your first year as a teacher, Management (delegation), Teacher training and even reviews of books.
There are also academic journals that have results of research that can be very interesting.
17. Write for a journal
Writing for a journal can be a really great way to focus your mind on a topic, do some research and then distill your thoughts for an academic purpose. This would certainly be a different experience to writing your average blog post.
18. Do some action research
If you can’t find a course or book on an area of teaching you want to improve upon then Why not start some research into it? It’s the perfect chance for you to learn in an area you need to learn in and then use some of the other methods above to continue to learn. (This British council article has some good advice on active research)
19. Teach an Unusual lesson/Try a new form of teaching
Have you tried teaching a lesson without speaking like Kevin Stein? What about a [nearly] paperless lesson? Have you taught an uplugged lesson? or at the other extreme a lesson straight from the coursebook! Why not try an approach you would never normally do, reflect and see what lessons you might learn from it.
20. Do a Pecha Kucha video.
You may have seen my Minute Monday video series, which has been on a short hiatus recently. Well I found it really useful and thought I would open it up to everyone but with a twist. Watch this Monday’s video to find out more.
Bonus 21: Subscribe to other teachers blogs.
There are some great blogs out there and subscribing is by far the best way to keep up to date with them. There are different ways to do this, Email and RSS are the most common. Oh and by the way if you follow a blog try to comment on them every once in a while. I guarantee it will put a smile on their face and teach them something new (second part not guaranteed…come to mention it neither is the first part. however it will put a smile on my face if you do.)