How to be a Teacher who Leads in the Classroom

Teachers are always wanting to insure that their students like them. They strive to provide interesting lessons each day and hope that the students will be motivated to learn and achieve. The challenge for teachers becomes linked with balancing friendliness, trust, and kindness with discipline, accountability, and expectations.

Students can mistake a friendly teacher attitude as favoritism and believe they are not as valued as other students in the classroom. Awkward situations can arise between a teacher and a student whenever there is a feeling that the two are friends thus leading to misunderstanding and mistrust.

Teachers must be aware that technology can provide outlets for students that can link the two as “friends.” Facebook and MySpace enable students to communicate with teachers and begin to believe that the teacher is someone who is “cool” and interested in their personal lives. The risk can be quite high for teachers and may lead to serious consequences.

Create a Friendly Classroom Environment

Teachers who are leaders will provide a learning environment that is inviting and that feels safe to students. As soon as students walk into the classroom, they should feel a friendly atmosphere that will motivate them to do the daily tasks set before them. It is a matter of creating a setting for the students that supports successful completion of learning tasks and a positive relationship between teacher and students as well as within the student group.

One way to create this environment is to greet the students each day. This can be done by starting the class with a simple good morning or hello. Some teachers use an anticipatory set at the beginning of each lesson to insure that the students are ready to learn and listen. Organizing the lesson with a beginning and ending sends a message to the students that learning has a purpose and that the teacher wants to see each one of them enjoy the experience in a positive way.

Communicate Well With Students

Paying attention during lessons is a very significant skill needed by all students in order to be successful. Teachers can become frustrated whenever the assessments completed by students indicate that learning was limited or did not occur as they had planned. Behavior issues can also arise that distract from what a teacher may be presenting in class.

One important key to successful student outcomes is linked with communication. Teachers must examine their methods of communication whenever they are analyzing the progress of the students. If there is a disconnect between the teacher and the students, eventually there will be a different teacher identity which is no longer being the leader of the students.

Stay in a Positive Mode While Teaching

Whenever students are asked why they liked a particular teacher, usually the answers will be linked with the fact that the teacher was interesting and caring. In order to provide a friendly classroom environment, teachers must exert every effort to teach with a positive mindset and face the challenges that arise with a commitment to insuring the best possible for each student. Challenges could be many during any given school year. However, it is the responsibility of every teacher to search for answers and to work towards providing learning as the positive that occurs in the classroom.

Providing daily praise to students will help portray that positive. It is significant that teachers understand praise must be appropriate and applicable to the specific situation. The problem becomes when the verbal praise is misconstrued by the student as saying the teacher likes him. This can lead to the mistaken identity of being a friend to the student rather than a leader whose goal is to motivate learning. Teachers must praise the efforts and the actions rather than the student personally. Whenever the teacher states he liked the way in which a student handled a challenging situation, that student then has the opportunity to feel encouraged and be motivated to continue the same positive behavior.

There is a fine line that has been drawn between teachers and students when it comes to the relationships in the classroom. The roles of teachers are clearly linked with promoting student learning successfully and helping students find the best strategies to reach their academic goals. When teachers create friendly classroom environments, communicate clearly with the students, and remain positive whenever helping students find solutions, the opportunity for learning is endless.

Copying Lesson in ESL Writing

Every ESL writing teacher wants their students to be able to communicate clearly in written English using standard rules of paragraph organization, sentence structure, and punctuation. The great mystery remains, however, about how best to provide lessons that will help students attain that goal.

Every ESL student will gravitate toward the method that best suits their own style of communicating, which can be problematic if that student becomes wedded to one particular way of expressing ideas rather than trying alternative strategies that may work best in specific instances. It is reasonable to present ESL students with the argument that, for example, a newspaper article, a recipe, a poem, and a love letter are all different types of writing which are created or developed in singular ways. Who could argue that the practical need to prepare a grocery list emerges from the same emotional starting point as a resignation letter? – see Letter Writing exercise for more classroom activities.

Of course, ESL students are not necessarily in need of taking part in a debate about various concepts relating to rhetorical theory, but ESL students at all levels can benefit from the practice of Copia or “copying,” especially at the sentence level. And from this practice, ESL teachers can not only show students how they can develop more flexible writing strategies, but they will also discover incredible potential for reinforcing important grammar concepts.

Curious? I hope so. I have used this sentence writing technique with high-beginner to advanced levels of ESL classes, and I think you will find the activity interesting and fun for all ESL students…and particularly convincing for those students who seek practical strategies for improving their writing.

How to Correct a Wrong Career Move

Jennifer accepted what sounded like a great position with a small firm where she thought she would have an opportunity to learn the business. Based on what she was told in the interview, she expected to lead her department in a change management process.

Unfortunately, while the owner of the company thought he was ready to take this bold, new direction, Jennifer quickly realized there was too much personal history to make effective change. Within six months she was looking for a new job.

Sometimes people are in a panic to find a job quickly because they are unemployed or frustrated by their current employment situation. However, taking a job in haste can often lead to regret and making the wrong career move.

Here are three steps an employee can take if they have made a wrong choice and are now faced with a bad career decision.

Take a Chance and Quit

The most obvious and easiest way out of a wrong career decision is to quit. Not always the favorite move because the alternative may be unemployment. And believe it or not, though things have changed somewhat, it is still easier to find a job while already employed.

However, while too many job changes make a person seem like a job hopper, sometimes it is better to just get out. Before taking this final action, be sure to ask:

  • Is this the only alternative?
  • What will be the financial impact?
  • How will it look to a future employer?

Determine What is Wrong and Correct It

Just because a job doesn’t seem right now, doesn’t mean the situation can’t be corrected. Objectively look at the reason(s) the job doesn’t fit in an effort to determine if the situation can be changed.

If there are other mitigating reasons to stay (i.e. good learning opportunity, developing new skills), then before taking any final action, determine if the problem has to do with:

  • A weak or difficult supervisor. Explore options such as moving to another department or changing reporting relationships.
  • A weak or difficult management team. If the supervisor can act as a buffer then it might be worth it to learn as much as possible before leaving.
  • Too much of something – responsibilities, travel. Explore ways to lighten the load.
  • Too little of something – responsibilities, salary. Take on additional projects, ask about overtime, consider if there is an incentive or bonus plan.

Make the Best of a Bad Situation

Depending on the individual situation, it might be wise to stay put for other reasons. Before taking any action, see if:

  • There is something to be learned here. In many instances an employee leaves due to dissatisfaction without fully exploring the possibility of what they might learn by staying.
  • There is a possibility of transferring to another position, department or division. If the issue is with co-workers and not the company in general, look into moving away from the problem by taking a transfer to another department or division.
  • Part of the problem is self-inflicted. Too often people create situations – problems with co-workers, unfulfilled expectations. It can be difficult to look at the situation objectively; however, take a hard look and consider the source.

Before someone leaves a job it is wise to explore all options and to remember the reason they took the position in the first place. If those things still exist then consider a work around. And to prevent problems in the future, be prepared for each interview, asks lots of questions, and don’t take the next job in a panic.

Creating Mystery Stories Develops the Style of Narration

Writing mystery stories can be an exciting and interesting activity. Getting students exuberant about doing this involves finding prompts that help them develop ideas. They need to think of story lines that pique the interest of their readers. Teachers need to find methods to enhance this creativity within the students.

How to Write a Mystery Story in Class

Teachers can offer the following methods to help students begin to write. They can aid the students by creating imaginative titles for mystery stories, create story beginning cues that will help writers get started, or make up endings for their stories.

Mystery Story Titles are a Good Beginning

The easiest way for the teacher to begin is to give titles. A quick trigger for the writers is to be given a logical start that comes with a name of a story. Here is a list of example titles:

  • The Case of the Fisherman’s Net
  • The Head of the Elephant
  • The Antique Gun
  • The Tomb of the Lion
  • The Mystery of the Missing Key
  • The Case of the Broken Wall Panel
  • Shattered Glass
  • The Knee Bone

Story Starters for Tales of Mystery

Another method of helping students write is giving them a sentence or even a first paragraph to spur their imagination and create suspense. Here are some examples:

  • It wasn’t in the box, and the stranger was stunned by its emptiness. How was it possible that in a few short hours someone had managed to take it out?
  • The lights went out. Darkness descended. Nobody walked in the streets.
  • The shadow slipped between the parked cars. It moved faster and faster until it reached the door, and then it stopped.
  • The water was icy. She felt herself going down, down, into its depths.

Ending a Mystery Story

Teachers can also write some endings for a mystery story. Students have to create the story that would end with that paragraph or sentence. Below are some ideas for this kind of prompt.

  • And he never came back again. Never.
  • She smiled, but the shadow of her large hat covered her tears as they ran down her face.
  • Behind the wall, the body still lay…and only the dogs of the neighborhood knew it was there.
  • Detective James frowned. His cell-phone rang. “Yes dear,” he said, “I’ll be home at five.”

Reading the Mystery Tales

Listening to all the stories will bring pleasure and enjoyment to the class. Have students read their tales to the class. A nice idea is to have students record their stories, with sound effects, onto CDs or tapes. Students find it fun to hear themselves and others on a listening device. The culmination of the writing, through the reading, is very rewarding for both teachers and students.

Writing practice through creativity, such as mystery writing, encourages students to include imagery, interesting adjectives, and a strong story line in their compositions. This idea prompts will enable students to begin the writing process and ultimately produce an exciting story.