There are behavioral responses of students in the class that clearly show whether it’s high time we changed the activity we're engaged in or stayed and enjoyed the atmosphere created. Be sensitive to the signs, even if they contradict your teaching plan for the day. - If more than two students have a sudden ‘toilet call’ in the middle of your presentation of the ‘Simple Present’ , it might be time to switch to something different to grab their attention again. A short activity like a vocabulary game, or other change of material, might alter the tone and pace for a while and then you can get back to your presentation, making sure your students are actually listening and learning.
- If the whole class is engaged in conversation over a ‘hot issue’ like next week’s school trip or a social problem that took place in the class, it may be a good idea to 'go with the flow' and allow students to share what’s worrying them in your class. Even if they can’t express much in English, they’ll see the language as a means of communication and of channeling their concerns and good news.
- If more than five students are looking desperately for the information you are dealing with, flipping pages back and forth , and all stopping at different pages – sure they are on the right page – maybe it’s time to stop and adapt your speech so more of the class can follow you. A student who doesn’t understand what’s going on in the class, will soon feel excluded.
- If you are engaged in an explanation of the ‘countable/uncountable nouns’ and most students are packing their books in secrecy, in a catlike fashion, so as to dash out when the bell rings, may be it’s time to wrap up the class with something less dense, and finish with a vocabulary puzzle, comment on weekend plans or play a song. This may seem like time wasted, but just throwing information seems pointless and makes everybody feel tense. If the puzzle or song is in English students will be still learning the language, but they’ll probably be more responsive and relaxed, and hopefully they’ll even stop packing!
I’m one of the teachers who always wanted to stick to the plan in spite of the fact that few people in the class were following me. With the passing of time and gaining of experience, I've learned that it’s much more effective and rewarding to read people’s signs and be ready to change the course of action.
Need ideas for warmers? Check this: Brain Boosters
Blog Talkback Would you like to share other ‘signs’ you experienced in your classes? E-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll get your ideas on our Blog Talk Home page.