This is a post for all those TEFL teachers out there worried about being too friendly, or not friendly enough, with their students. Bearing in mind this is coming from someone who married one of his ex-students, I may not be the best person to listen to, but I reckon I’ve got the perfect balance now in my classes.
Over the years I’ve tried various tactics: being over friendly and wanting students to like me, rather than teach them English, or being super strict and either scaring students so they have either begged their parents not to come to class or spent far too long before opening up in class.
Now I think I’ve found the happy medium where I have a laugh with my students, but they get the work done and respect me. Here are a few tips on how to get that balance.
|Harsh, but fair.|
Photo by Chris Pirillo
1- Go in hard
It might be a tad late for this term (would you believe we were chatting about Xmas already in the staffroom the other day) but those first two or three weeks are vital for setting up your goal posts, making the rules clear, and showing them how far they can, or can’t, push you. The stricter you are to begin with, the less likely they are to take advantage of you, especially if you are a new teacher.
This year I kicked off my classes with a rant about Spanish, where I explained that each time they spoke Spanish I would put a line on the board, 5 lines is double homework, 10 lines is copy a text. This was even before I did the register or introduced myself. It seems to have worked, even though some classes have had double homework, and also a couple are a tad on the quiet side.
I also set homework from the first day, and explain that each time they don’t do it they get a red card, 3 red cards before Xmas then I phone their parents. So far so good, but one girl is on 2 already. I’m also strict on their time keeping, being ready when I walk in, making sure they thank me at the end of the class, sweeping the floor before they leave, that sort of thing.
I find it’s the 2nd and 3rd week when I have to get tough with behaviour, remind them of Spanish, and tell them the story about Mr Sirichild (a strict teacher I worked with in Thailand who used a hard wooden ruler for his punishment). Just keep on and by the 2nd month you should have them under control and be able to ease up a bit, which brings me on to my next point.