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Advice to teachers Advice to teachers
by Joseph Gatt
2021-11-15 09:59:47
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My personal advice to teachers. The kind I haven't seen anywhere else. Hope it helps.

-First one, big one: follow the textbook. Teaching any class in primary, middle or high school without the textbook would be like sitting at the dinner table without a meal. Those kids are gonna get all excited and agitated.

tea0001_400So you want all your classes to follow the textbook. Don't use the textbook only for brain teasers or exercises. If possible, don't teach the chapters in disorder. Start with the first chapter, and finish with the last.

Teach the lessons in the textbook, and then do the exercises. Basically, teach whatever is in the textbook. Textbooks often have visual aids that you could not use if you lectured.

This one may sound obvious, but so many teachers completely ditch the textbook, or only use it for homework. If your students have their eyes on the textbook, that should save a lot of discipline problems.

Avoid lecturing with your own personal notes (although you could ad lib a bit and use your own side notes). Avoid using “online” sources. Avoid “activism” as in teaching about racism or feminism or sexism or violence, unless those are mentioned in the textbook.

-If you're a teacher and that you have control over choosing your textbooks, I recommend that you go with a textbook + a workbook. Use the textbook in class, and use the workbook for homework and the occasional classroom activity.

-Avoid using two or more textbooks for the class. One textbook is more than enough. Two textbooks tend to confuse students, as they often come to class without one textbook or the other if there's more than one textbook.

-Don't overprepare. It's all in the textbook. So read the chapter you're about to teach, and you should be good to go. Don't overthink the activities and so on. You will usually have a teacher's book that goes with the textbook, which includes some advice on how to teach the chapter and the answers to exercises. Read that part once and you're good to go.

-Testing. As a teacher, you're going to have to hand in tests. Here's the advice that my 8th grade Spanish teacher gave me when I asked him;

Avoid testing all your classes on the same day or the same week. If you're teaching 5 different classes, test one class on Monday, the other on Friday, the other on the following Tuesday, and the other one on the following Friday. Space out the tests.

Correct the tests immediately after you're done, as soon as possible. Don't let tests pile up.

If possible, hand in the corrected tests and grades on the class immediately following the test date. Otherwise students tend to forget they were tested in the first place.

If possible, always be 100% sure what the answer is to your test questions. Example: 1+1=2. If they get that one right, they get full credit for that.

But avoid test questions like “could you cite a proverb”. Because no one is exactly sure what qualifies as a proverb. So, as the teacher correcting the test, you're going to have to do too much thinking over whether the answer is correct, whether you should give partial credit or no credit at all.

And avoid long tests. One page is more than enough. Longer tests are usually counter-productive because you're supposed to test knowledge, fluency and accuracy of knowledge, but when handing longer tests, students get tired, and their knowledge starts blurring out. So you're no longer teaching knowledge, but endurance if you're handing tests that are too long. Test should be one hour (avoid two hour tests) and should be no more than one page.  

-Finally, in elementary school, you want to use the “audio-lingual” method to teach reading. That is you, the teacher, read the passage in sentence chunks and have the student repeat the sentence after you. That should teach them reading.

In middle school, you want the students to read textbook passages.

In high school, debate and discussion should be part of the game. If you ask high school students to read passages from the textbook or to listen to your lectures, they are going to start texting their girlfriends and boyfriends or they are going to start playing some kind of video game. That's usually how it works.

Good luck, and enjoy! Teaching is fun!

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