Friday, December 14, 2012

Changing Education Paradigms

Recently the education board in Indonesia has been seriously talking about some mammoth changes for the 2013-2014 curriculum.

The changes are said to include removing English from the primary school curriculum. They say this is because they will replace it with a subject to improve attitude.

Now although I do not really know too much about the changes yet to comment on them here, the whole issue did get me thinking about a speech I heard from Sir Ken Robinson about Changing Education Paradigms. I feel the point of his speech can be summed up in a few words - we need to seriously question what we know about education itself, rather than making small changes to curriculum, standards and management we should be making big changes to our perceptions and pushing to make education what it truly should be. Those are my words, not his but a summary none the less.

His words are "we need to change the culture of our institutions, the habits of our institutions and the habitats they occupy".

So what should education be? I don't think we can fully answer that question before we take our first steps on our new journey, and to make a new journey in a better and more effective direction we need to first remove ourselves from our current path. But hasn't the path been working fine up until  now? I think we can all agree on the answer to that. This conversation about reforming education will never stop untill we first reform and refine our thinking on the matter.

Below is a RSAnimate video of the talk he gave in 2003 on Changing Education Paradigms. It is very easy to follow thanks to the illustrations even for a non-native English speaker.

It is well worth a watch! I've transcribed my notes below the video for those who prefer to read and for those who want to see my feelings on each issue. Enjoy! ^_^

Changing Education Paradigms
-A commentary of the speech made by Sir Ken Robinson

Any of my own feelings or opinions will be written in italic like this. The summary of the speech below is not quoted word by word but rephrased/written for easy reading. 

Around the world today there is a lot of talk about reforming education. According to Sir Robinson there are 2 reasons for this.
1. Economic: How do we educate our children to take part in the economies of the 21st century? Given that we can't anticipate what the economy will look like next week? As demonstrated by the recent economic turmoil.

2. Cultural: How do we give our children a sense of cultural identity while still teaching them how to thrive in the global village?

The problem is, schools and school boards are trying to meet the future by doing what they have done in the past and in the process they alienate millions of students.

In the past we were sold the notion that if we studied hard, did well and went to college we would get a good job. Our children don't believe that anymore and they are right not to. A college degree is good, but not a guarantee on a job anymore, especially if the route to it marginalizes most of the things you think are important.

Our education system now is still based on an enlightenment view on education and caters to the needs of the industrialization era.  This creates a certain perspective of education that although very useful in the past and a great step forward then, our perspectives need to be seriously revamped to keep up with the current era.

The prophet Muhammad SAW was said to of said "Teach people according to their era!"

There is an increase in Attention Deficit Problems with teens, mainly because of a lack of adaptability in the way we educate.

The arts are a victim of this mentality as they give an aesthetic experience. An aesthetic experience is when your senses are operating at their peak. When you are fully alive.

What we are prescribing for our children is an anesthetic experience. To hold their attention we are asking them to shut their senses off. What we should be doing is waking them up to what they have inside themselves.

We have a model of education based on the interests of industrialization and in the image of it (like a factory). Think about it!

  • Schools still run with ringing bells
  • Subjects are separated into different places and times
  • We still educate children in batches, separating them into age groups (like the most important thing about them was their year of manufacture).
 There are many different children of the same age that learn in different ways. Some learn better in groups, some on their own, some in the morning, some in the afternoon.

It's all about 'conformity' and you can see this in the constant increase in standardized testing.

The above line is especially relevant in Indonesia!

Sir Ken Robinson suggests that we should go in the exact opposite direction. That's what he's talking about when he says ' a change in paradigms'.

Divergent Thinking

Divergent thinking is an essential capacity for creative thinking. Divergent thinking gets less with age and this surprisingly coincides with 'becoming more educated'.

This may be because amongst other things in school we are taught:

  1. There is one right answer
  2. It's in the back
  3. Don't look or copy because that would be cheating (where outside school that's called collaboration) 
We have to think differently about human capacity. See that many of the concepts we have of education are myths (like the separation of academic and non-academic individuals). Realise that great learning happens in groups, collaboration is the stuff of growth.

If we atomize students and judge them separately we form a disjunction between them and their natural learning environment.

"We need to change the culture of our institutions, the habits of our institutions and the habitats they occupy."

To discuss this article and Sir Ken Robinson's ideas together please visit the CLT Facebook Page or leave a comment bellow!

Until next time, keep shining sharing and succeeding!


Friday, November 23, 2012

Teachers' Seminar for the 22nd of December 2012

Announcement: There will be a seminar for teachers of all levels on December the 22nd. The seminar is for teachers of any subject and any level.

Event Title: Pillars, Pylons and PLN. The three keys to success in your teaching career

Place: Plaza 3 Pondok Indah

Time: 7.30am-2pm

Investment: Rp 350,000

Please see the flyer for further information. All attendees must RSVP.

Please share this information with any of your friends or colleagues that may be interested.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Teaching as a career of sincerity

Why do teachers always get paid so little?

This is a question that has plagued societies around the world frequently in the last few decades.

It has also bothered me personally as I have always worked alongside mostly local teachers who are often unmotivated and exhausted because of the amount of compensation they get for their effort and the amount of moonlighting (outside working hours) they have to give just to make ends meet.

It's not a question that is unique to Indonesia although just as important to address here as anywhere else in the world.

Before we address the above question we should first establish if they really are paid too little. Fortunately there is no lack of studies done on this globally. The studies have been conducted in different ways.

  • Focusing on the salary of teachers per hour compared to those of similarly educated professionals in regards to the duration of their degrees. Including benefits such as paid holidays etc.
  • Focusing on the salary of teachers per hour compared to those of similarly intelligent professionals in regards to their IQ. Including benefits such as paid holidays etc.
In short most studies from the U.S. (where the compensation for teachers is pretty good compared to other parts of the world) show that teachers are paid less than their counterparts in both cases; although the gap is not as large as you would expect. That is thanks to the inclusion of average hours worked, where if you were to calculate it, teachers work much less hours than similarly intelligent or educated professionals, which makes them almost as well paid.

I feel however that those studies are based on a very shallow view of the teacher’s workload and do not take into account two very important points:

  1. The afterhours work that teachers put in. Often the studies focus on 'teaching hours' as many teachers in most parts of the world are permitted to go home when they've finished those hours. It also doesn't include the huge amount of professional development that teachers need to do to make sure they are always giving their best to their students.
  2. The impact that teachers have on society which is by far the most of almost any profession (despite the initial training of a teacher being fairly 'easy and light' compared to other professions).
So I think the statement still stands strong. Teachers are paid way too little for what they do (or should be doing).

Why are they paid so little? Probably because most governments of the world have lost a sense of priority. Probably also because the results of the changes that are made in education today, will not be seen in working society for perhaps a decade - long after the current politicians in power have changed. That leads to a lack of accountability which of course then leads to a lack of action and thus change.

Generally around the world teachers are paid about as well as laborers, sometimes less. This means that increasingly less people are looking at getting into teaching and although they may feel passionate about education, they will choose other fields that are more financially beneficial.

I guess the question should not be 'Why are teachers leaving the trade?' or 'Why do teachers always get paid so little?' but 'Why do they stay?' and 'What can they do to improve their situation?'.

Why do teachers stay in the profession or even choose it in the first place?

The answer in short is simple. Most teachers choose to teach because they want to make a difference in the world. Whether or not this passion stays with them throughout their career or even throughout their degree is another matter. So teaching is a career of sincerity. People do not choose to teach because they want to earn a decent living, they usually teach because they want to make a difference and want to serve society where it really matters.

Some teachers enter the profession for all the wrong reasons though. Usually because the degree is a relatively easy and cheap one or because they look at teaching as a pretty easy and simple job (with few hours).

Really then this article is for the majority of teachers, not those free loaders who think teaching is a breeze and just want to clock in and out ASAP to get their dosh (money) and sit in front of the TV watching soapies and reality TV.

This article is for those teachers who chose teaching for all the right reasons. They want to make a difference in this world and serve humanity in the best way they can.

What can teachers do to improve their financial situation?

So teachers don't look like they are going to get more money from private schools (which are mostly essentially money making businesses) or government schools (which are struggling to get better funding) any time soon, which means teachers are left with improving their financial position by themselves.

It's important that they are able to improve their financial situation because although teaching is truly a career of sincerity they still have families to support and dreams to fulfill. Without the ability to do those things the quality of education will suffer, this is a no brainer.

Let's first look at a few way teachers commonly try to improve their financial situation.

Private tutoring: The most common method is to do more teaching. Quiet a simple concept I guess 'I need more money so I'm going to work more'. One teacher explained it to me like this 'I only work at a school for prestige, I get a lot more money from my private students an work much less hours'. Often teachers get around 50,000-150,000 an hour doing private teaching with middle class students which is considerable considering their daily wage from the school is around 75,000. This means they can sometimes more than double their wage by doing just and extra hours work each evening.

Problems with Private Tutoring: It's not always easy to find clients and the work is not always stable. Also by teaching you own students or students from the school there is a moral issue of 'Shouldn't they be getting that kind of support from the teachers anyway?'. That is why many schools have forbidden teachers taking on private students on who are from that teachers school or at least from their own classes (which usually just ends up with an exchange between teachers anyway).

Working after hours at an institute: Similar to private tuition teachers can sometimes double their salary by doing this. They sign a contract with a language institute or tuition college and can usually make the same kind of money they make at their day job.

Problems with working after hours at an institute: The working hours of institutes often collide with teaching duties especially if there is a special event at the school. There are institutes that take this into account and let teachers who have day jobs plan at home and arrive a bit later than usual but still for special events there are few solutions. Besides that if a teacher works at an institute they will often be working until 8 or 9 pm at night which makes them very tired and worn out. That will almost always affect their performance in one or both positions which is why many schools and institutes now forbid their employees to work anywhere else (this is often stipulated in the employee contract).

Having a business on the side: This is probably one of the better options for teachers but requires a particular skill set in itself. Not all people are able to become successful entrepreneurs off the bat, especially when they are trying to balance a new business with a full time job. None the less many teachers are successful doing this. Common micro-businesses that teachers can manage while still working full-time include: 

  • Having a shop at home which the wife or husband (who isn't working) takes care of.
  • Selling a product to people connected to the school (in or around working hours) as well as to the general public (after work).
  • Becoming a sales executive that works on commission selling a product or service such as cosmetics or insurance.
  • Putting together a co-op investment scheme amongst the teachers
  • In some cases a teacher has enough money through inheritance or savings to manage to build a very successful business on the side with employees and a concrete location - this however often leads to them leaving their teaching career
The problems with having a business on the side: Having a shop at home means you need to have somebody at home to look after it, which means it's not really a business at all, it's a job for that person at home. 
Selling a product to people connected to the school or outside the school is time consuming and will no doubt take time away from lesson planning and supporting slower students. If done in school hours it'll make the teacher tired and worn out. There is also the issue of sourcing suppliers which can take time.
Becoming a sales executive usually does not bring in a whole lot of money and can sometimes annoy friends and coworkers as any MLM program does.
Putting together a co-op is an extremely low-profit venture and you usually end up spending any profit made by buying from the co-op yourself. It's only real use is that you can get intrest free loans from the co-op which is nice.
A successful larger business for employees usually means the teacher is financially better off putting their time into the business instead of teaching, sometimes the business itself ends up demanding this as it expands.

The above ideas are not all bad. In fact I've seen one or two teachers implement one, a few or all of them with quiet some success (usually with the help of multi-vitamins, energy drinks and power naps).

An example of a teacher who implements all of the income supplement ideas above would be like the below:

Day job wage: 1.5jt

Extra wage from evening job: 1jt

Extra wage from tutoring private students between the hours of students going home and teachers going home (usually between 1-2hours which should be used for planning, correcting and meetings):1jt

Profit from sales executive commission: 500rb

Profit from product sales: 500rb

Profit from co-op investments: 50rb

Weekend tutoring 1.5jt

Totaling: RP 7,550,000

This however is the activity of a workaholic and it is likely that the quality of any of these ventures wouldn't be any good at all. Still possible, but not a good idea.

So what is a better way to improve our financial situation (without draining all our energy reserves) while still giving the best to our students, making a difference and serving society?

The first step is realizing that you don't get paid enough for the hours you work. This is not acceptable, if you are in a middle-class school or above it's not ethically okay that you get paid what you do. You are probably getting paid that much because of one of two reasons:

1. The school puts their money into facilities instead of manpower. This is much like a rich man buying a very expensive car only to hire the cheapest driver he can. The driver will no doubt mistreat the car, maybe even damage it and won't give the best service to his passenger (the boss). In the case of the driver the boss is directly affected and that is why most drivers earn more than most teachers. In the case of a teacher the damage is not so clear or immediate. 

2. The school doesn't put money into facilities or manpower and only cares about the immediate profit.

If you're in the second type of school get out! Abandon ship! Count your losses!

If your in the first kind of school you need to make your case clear to management. The only way to do this is as a union. All of the teachers at the school should be serious about getting paid what they deserve and more importantly deserving more than what they are paid (this should make sense).

Having experience in several newly built schools I know that in the beginning better facilities means a bigger profit for the foundation. Parents like any customer buy based on perceived benefits and value. However parents also like any customer will continue buying and referring the service to friends only due to results and excellence in service i.e. perceptions can change and they do very quickly if promises aren't kept. Unfortunately not all parents realize when their children aren't learning enough and aren't getting the best out of their education. They only look to the report card and the national summative test as an indication of how well their child is doing. Fortunately most parents aren't blind either and will usually recognize quality instruction in action.

The fact of the matter is that better teaching conquers all. This is what (in the long run) will cause parents to keep putting their children in your hands and refer those masterful hands to others. So, improve quality of teaching and you'll improve the business as a whole. Make sure this is your key case when proposing a salary raise as a union to the management. First show them how good your teaching can get, increase your productivity and passion (making your hours more valuable). Then work together to get that raise you now definitely deserve.

The second step is realizing that you will never get paid enough for the difference you make in society. That is your legacy, your donation to society, your calling. Expect to get paid for the benefit you give to the business (the school) but never expect to get paid more for the benefit you give to society. Those are the extra small and magical things you give the individual human beings you mentor. Those things, that sincere work that separates a masterful teacher to just a really good one has no price and can not and will not be bought. This means that if you work in a government school the chance of a pay rise is very slim.

So if you can't get a pay rise for the value of the hours you put in and you'll never get a pay rise for the value of the contribution you make to society, how can you improve your financial situation?

Luckily there are still three very powerful options at hand:

1. Learn money management and basic investment

2. Consider your time teaching as a training program in excellence and set up a passive information business

3. Create your own school

Or why not do all three?

Easier said than done you say? To bloody right it is. But it isn't as hard as you think either.

I'm going to put you onto three tips that can help you learn more about these three powerful options.

1.      Learn about money management and basic investment from these two points.
Invest in projects, not businesses and make your main investment sweat.
Tip: The better you get at making projects the less sweat you need. Examples of projects that are rich in sweat investment include: Events, Parties, Bazaars, Camps and products that you make yourself (especially information products which leads to point number 2).
Finally don’t get caught in the credit trap (if you already are, count your losses and pay the price with more sweat investment).

2. Lean about setting up a Passive Information Business from:

3. Learn about a way to create your own school by studying the co-operative concept. Imagine a school where the bulk of the profit goes back to the teachers? Imagine twenty teachers not sharing just 380jt a year but a couple of billion a year (monthly salary of around 8jt a month). As well as having a school with some of the best facilities around. All of that is possible with the co-operative concept.

So those are three great possibilities which I believe are very doable for teachers. There is no doubt many more but the point of it all is that you should never forget about what got you into teaching in the first place.

If you want me to expand on any of the things discussed about above just drop me an email. If you liked this article don’t forget to share it around.

Until next time, keep shining, sharing and changing lives!


Thursday, October 25, 2012

How to make a basic esl/efl lesson plan

Here's a short video I made on how to make a basic ESL/EFL lesson plan:

I'll update the summary of the video here ASAP

For those who are celebrating the Islamic festival of Eid Al-Adha I hope you have a lovely celebration and enjoy catching up with loved ones.


Thursday, October 11, 2012

How Encouragement and Appreciation Makes All The Difference

Hi Guys,

Have you ever been in a job or situation where no body encourages you or appreciates you? Chances are you have probably experienced a situation like this at least once in your life. The reality I guess is we are wrong to expect appreciation or encouragement as in most cases it's not the norm. But it's just because of that, that is makes all the difference in the world.

I wanted to share this lesson that I gave my MCC (Motivational Conversation Class) last week because I think the message is particularly special.

 I remember when I was still studying to be a teacher I used to work mornings as a Postman.We didn't get great pay but one thing I did get was appreciation. Whenever I did extra work the manager always made sure to say thank you and appreciate me. When a new manager came to take over the delivery centre the previous manager made sure to tell him all about me "This is Hugh, one of our best workers, he's really bent over backwards for us!" he said. It was this appreciation that made me feel valued there, not the money that we got or the position I held. It's that appreciation that made all the difference.

The first thing that we looked at in the lesson was a video of the Puget Sound Community School in Seattle.

The students at the school start and end every day with words of appreciation. They are also given huge independence in their learning. The director of the school says he has found when the character of the students are strong their academic progress naturally follows. Watch the video for more insight into this fantastic program.

We tried this appreciation technique in my class to see how it felt. All of the teachers made a circle and took turns to give appreciation, it could be to somebody in the room or somebody not present, it could of even been to a few people or a group of people. The atmosphere of the room automatically changed and I feel this is an invaluable technique to use with our students in schools or language institutes.

The next thing we did was listen to a couple of inspiring stories. The first is of Antwone Fisher. He was born in a an Ohio correctional facility (a prison) while his mother was incarcerated. By then his father had already been dead for two months. As a result, he grew up a ward of the state in foster care. For longer than 13 years he lived with a couple who abused him horribly. Daily he was beaten down - physically, verbally and mentally. He never received a Christmas gift or a dime of allowance from his foster parents. For years he was a victim of sexual abuse. And he was often tied to a post in the basement and beaten. His foster mother used to brag that she had once beaten him until he was unconscious.

By the time Fisher entered the third grade, he had lost any natural love for learning. In addition, the constant admonition from his foster mother that he was the worst child in the world had convinced him that he couldn't learn and had no future. He failed fourth grade and was scheduled to repeat it. But then something wonderful happened. His foster family moved, which put him in a new school district. His new teacher was Mrs. Profit. "If there is such a thing as human beings who act as angels in our lives, Brenda Profit was that for me."

Under Brenda Profit's care, Fisher began to change his thinking about himself. He says, "If self-esteem was what you used to fill up like a take of gas, the Pickets {his foster family} had siphoned mine out to nothing. Mrs. Profit helped changed [sic] all that." Despite his gains, his academic progress was still meager by the end of the year. He was in danger of once again failing fourth grade. But then Fisher got another break. It was decided that Mrs. Profit would stay with her class of students and continue teaching then in fifth and sixth grades. Knowing that, she passed Fisher into the fifth grade. And it was then that an event occurred that would change his thinking forever.

It happened one day during reading Fisher, a terribly shy child who sometimes stuttered, was asked to read aloud, and instead of panicking, he read well, including successfully sounding out a difficult word. Then Mrs. Profit praised him, saying, "I'm proud of you. I want you to know that I really struggled over promoting you, and I'm glad that I did. You are doing very well this year." That's when something clicked in Fisher's head. He writes, "Her honest and, careful words are the equivalent of lightning bolts and thunder claps. Outside I shyly accept her praise, but inside I'm flying with the birth of a revelation. It's the first time I've ever realized that there is something I can do to make things different for myself. Not just me, but anyone ...This lesson is a piece of gold I'll keep tucked in my back pocket for the rest of my life."

In that moment, Fisher changed his thinking about himself - and it changed his life. He had plenty of ups and downs after that, but he knew he wasn't hopeless and a better future was possible for him. He didn't follow the path of his older foster brother and friends into a life of drugs and crime.

Today Antwone Fisher thinks for a living. He is a successful screenwriter in Hollywood. And he has become the kind of responsible citizen and family man he always desired to be, with a wife and daughter. When asked what message he wants his story to convey, his answer is, "That there is hope even when you have the hardest beginnings, and there are good people in the world." (Story taken from Today Matters By Antwone Fisher and revised by John C. Maxwell in his book Encouragement)

That shows what a difference a teacher or anyone can make when they simply take the time to appreciate and encourage somebody. They can really be the one who makes the difference, you can really be the one!

The next story we had a look at was of a young man in the early 19th century. He aspired to be a writer but everything seemed against him. He had never been able to attend school for more than four years. His father had been flung in jail because he couldn't pay his debts, and this young man often knew the pangs of hunger. Finally he got a job posting labels on bottles of blacking in a rat infested warehouse, and he slept at night in a dismal attic room with two other boys - guttersnipes from the slums of London. He had so little confidence in his ability to write that he sneaked out and mailed his first manuscript in the dead of night so that nobody would laugh at him. Story after story was refused. Finally the great day came when one was accepted. True, he wasn't paid a shilling for it, but one editor had praised him. One editor had given him recognition. He was so thrilled that he wandered aimlessly around the streets with tears rolling down his cheeks.
The praise, the recognition, that he received through getting one story in print, changed his whole life, for if it hadn't been for that encouragement, he might have spent his entire life working in rat-infested factories. You might have heard of that boy. His name was Charles Dickons. (Story taken from Dale Carnegie's book How to Win Friends & Influence People)

In both stories these men's lives were changed by the simple acts of encouragement and appreciation. It really makes all the difference, I can't say it enough. So the next time you see something you like or appreciate something somebody has done, speak up! It only takes a few seconds and is the easiest way to make somebody's day, maybe even change their life.

At the end of my lesson I got the teachers to all come up one by one and share how somebody's words of encouragement or appreciation changed their lives'.

Maybe you have a similar experience? Post it up to our Change Lives Together Facebook Group! And don't forget to subscribe to my blog if you've enjoyed reading.

Until next time, keep shining, sharing and succeeding!


Saturday, September 29, 2012

9 Tips On How To Master Classroom Management

Hi Guys,

Thought I'd write on a topic very close to my heart. It's all about classroom management. Now I know how most people feel when they see that word 'management' it's laden with responsibilities and memories of authority figures. So let's think of 'Classroom Management' as Classroom Mastery for a bit. ^_^

Why Classroom Mastery?

Because I want you to feel confident and in control like a real master. Classroom 'Mastery' has become an increasingly important issue and probably will continue to do so in coming years. A few reasons for this could be:

-Students expect more from experiences thanks to modern technology and connectivity
-Teachers are unsure of what they can do to control students as more regulations on discipline practices come in
-Through popular culture students feel it's cool and asserting to stand up to authority figures (sometimes just 'testing the water' to see what they can get away with)
-Parents spend increasingly less time with children especially in the growing middle class. This means it's up to the teacher to instill values and discipline

The reasons why students are increasingly behaving badly are probably much more than that but whatever the reason I want you to add the following tricks to your toolbox, some of you probably already have but hopefully I can give you something new today that will help you teach better and change the lives of your students. Amin.

Tip #1 Badly behaved students are sometimes just bored

 The most basic tip and what you've probably already realised in your own classes is that students play up when they have nothing to do. There is a famous saying 'idle hands are the devils playground' so the trick is to keep those hands busy in good works. Sometimes though even though the hands are busy, the mind is unchallenged. We are sometimes unaware that our most disruptive students are the most intelligent. You may be interested to know that one teacher of Albert Einstien's called him a "foolish dreamer" and asked him to drop out of his class. He did eventually quit school before finishing High School because he found it utterly boring and obviously due to that didn't receive much stimulation or support from teachers. How many Albert Einstiens may we have in our classes at the moment without even realising it? It shocks me to think about it which is why we should never judge a book by it's cover. 'As long as you have a pulse, you have a purpose' and it's up to you, the teacher to help your student find their purpose and explore the best way for them to learn and where their talents lie.

So tip number one is make sure all students are stimulated in learning. The basic form of this is keeping those idle hands busy and the icing on the cake is to make sure those 'challenging students' aren't overlooked as 'dreamy' or 'disruptive' but as 'innovators' and as 'challengers to the status quo'.

Tip #2 Engaged and Inspired People don't work for money but work with blood sweat and tears

If you can inspire your students to learn and engage them in something they really want to immerse themselves in, then why on earth would they misbehave? Some of you may be thinking 'yeah right Hugh, easier said than done' but seriously, an EFL teacher has so many weapons in their arsenal. If Mathematics teachers and other 'Subject' teachers  said 'easier said than done' I would have to whole heartily agree with them, but not you! As an EFL teacher all you need to do is "Build language awareness in context" What that context is, is up to you! You don't have to stick to the book if it bores the hell out of your students. Think outside the box and work outside the book!

Tip #3 Motivating students may require rewards

Although this is a controversial subject rewards don't have to involve something material.Sometimes the motivation could be just be some free time, a movie class, a class party (where students bring their own healthy foods) or maybe just scores on the board. You can also use material rewards as long as you don't go overboard (maybe small useful things to them like stationary etc.). Some studies have shown that this 'earning' system creates strong psychological connections of effort with joy. This is essentially a good thing as when you remove the reward the student is often still excited to make an effort as it has become a habit, in life we are generally rewarded for our efforts. The object of rewards in the classroom is to simulate this. Of course it should eventually be made clear that some times it is the process of doing our best that is in fact the best reward.

Tip #4 Making a flexible and energetic classroom makes for a high fun factor

For younger children you probably want to focus more on focusing their energy levels rather than maintaining it. As students get older though they sometimes suffer from either low energy or anxiety. Having a high energy, flexible, fun and non-threatening lesson helps break down barriers to learning and maintains discipline.

There are a few techniques that can be used to maintain a high energy atmosphere. For children and teens power teaching is defiantly a great method, I usually have a few links to power teaching videos at the bottom of my screen. You can learn all about this way of teaching completely for free through their youtube videos and their website And a method for older learners is through a regular change of activities so that they don't drift off. A good example of this is a Suggestopedic lesson where no activity is carried out until it's end, thus apparently leaving the receptors in the brain open and raring to go. See How to become a Suggestopedic teacher.

Tip #5 Failing to warm-up can lead to a cold lesson

Warming-up serves many purposes and to miss it would be a grave mistake. It gets the students ready mentally, physically and linguistically for the lesson ahead. Also by getting our students moving at the very start of the lesson it engages them, generates energy and enthuses your students, no matter who you are teaching.

Tip #6 Build rapport with your students

Developing rapport with your students can not be stressed enough here. It is absolutely essential without a doubt. How many times have you heard somebody say "I didn't like maths in school" or "I didn't like English in school" and the reason they give for this is "my teacher was cruel to me" or "I didn't like my teacher"? Developing rapport with students makes you approachable, worth listening to and worth respecting. Never forget, your students are your real clients, not the principal, not the management and not the parents. Your students success is the thing that is going to lift you to great heights so your focus should first and foremost be building rapport with them. Make sure they feel comfortable with you, know that you care for them on an individual basis and feel that you're there to support them in excelling their own expectations.

Never forget that you are the master of your domain. Spread happiness, values, discipline and friendship amongst your students and you'll very rarely have any regrets when you look back on your career.

Tip #7 Positive correcting techniques sets up an environment of exploration and bravery

Students should be brave, they should be brave to try and brave to fail because these two things are bound to happen. Of course as teachers we always want to set our students up for success, but it is sometimes only through failure that we can learn, persevere and finally succeed. For some it takes longer than others, but some of the late learners end up being the bravest and the strongest because although the quick students learned quicker the slower students would have had to of persevered for longer. A famous boxer once said "it's not about how many times you get knocked down, it's about how many times you get back up again". In business school nowadays students are taught to fail, that really surprises a lot of people "Why on earth would they teach them to fail?" they ask. Well now it is common knowledge in the business world that failure is inevitable. All business graduates now know the term 'Fail fast and forward' it means get out there and fail. If you've never failed, you've never tried hard enough, you've never tested your limitations and you probably haven't learned much in the process. So get your students to fail fast and forward and congratulate them for doing so, because to succeed in learning a language they will need more bravery than brains, more perseverance than proper pronunciation and more failure than flukes (getting lucky in getting things right the first time). That's how we learn a second language so always encourage them, give them time to work through the process and support them through positive correction techniques.

An example of a positive correction technique is 'echo correction' it is where you don't so much say "you're wrong" but you repeat the sentence they've gotten wrong back to them in the correct form.

Tip #8 Sometimes students need a good talking to or some time to think

Sometimes no matter how fun, high energy, stimulating, challenging, accepting, flexible and comfortable your classes are, you're still going to get one or two problem students. They are sometimes more concerned with outside forces than they are in learning from your lessons. Here the most powerful form of discipline is first setting clear expectations of all of your students, some students play up because they think that your lessons are so flexible and fun that there are no longer any rules. So whenever you get a new class for the first time, make sure you set down the ground rules. It's better start of a little hard and later get softer than start of soft and fun then get hard and stern (this lets the students down, makes the expectations of you unclear and makes them think you've taken a turn for the worse).

The next most powerful thing in discipline is counseling. If the rules are already clear, make sure you take the time to counsel your students. This sometime means talking to them but usually means doing a lot of listening. One technique is to sit together and get the student to establish the problem, if they are finding it hard help them, then get them to think of possible solutions, it doesn't matter how silly or how absurd the solutions are, get them to think of as many as thy can. Then get them to pick the best out of all of them and make a commitment to apply them. You will find that when you get the student involved in the solution, it will be more likely to take effect. That being said, you must be patient, to sit with a student and counsel them maybe several times before they come good. Showing them that you are committed to them and will take the time for them is also an important part of the process.

Tip #9 There is nothing wrong with a little Student-Teacher feedback

Ask your students whether they enjoyed the lesson and why. Maybe even make a questionnaire for your students to fill in every second month. You may think this is strange to ask for feedback from students but if you don't do it they will give feedback one way or another, the only problem with that is that you'll know about it when it's too late. Often parents ask their children "How was your day, do you like your teacher?" and lots of school management now give questionnaires to students to evaluate their teachers. So in the case of feedback it really is "first in best served" if you show your students you care about their opinion they will be more likely to give it to you before anybody else. They will also usually be more respectful of you when finally asked by somebody else. Because you made the effort to care about if they enjoyed learning with you or not. Remember 'Feedback is the breakfast of champions!'. Sometime the best way to know if you students really are thrilled with you classes, is simply just to ask!

Okay guys well I hope you've gotten something useful out of these tips and remember if you enjoyed reading share it on facebook, recommend it on Google or tweet it! That way we can change more lives through shining, sharing and succeeding! ^_^

Kindest regards,