Tip 69: Identify Student Needs
Before you start to teach a new class or students new to your school, first determine what pre-existing knowledge and skills the students have, so you know what you can successfully build on. Sometimes you first have to do a basic or informal needs analysis to find out exactly what level they are on.
If you do work that is out of their reach, work that is too difficult, they won’t understand it. Similarly, if you do things that are too easy, you will just be repeating a lot of things they’ve already done. It’s the same with their skills. What are they able to do? You want them to learn new things; you want to show them how to be better in whatever you’re teaching. So, first, you need to determine the knowledge level of the students.
If you are new at a school and unfamiliar with their grading system, a good idea would be to talk to the teacher that taught them the year before and gain insight into the strengths and weaknesses of the students. This will help you to know what you need to teach them and how you can best help them to achieve that.
In theory, there are steps in the process of a needs analysis on pre-school children, elementary school, high school and adults, but as a teacher with a class of perhaps twenty to forty students, what do you do?
Number one is to have a plan. A needs analysis, especially in language teaching, is simply a systematic process to collect information and get an accurate picture of the student’s knowledge level and skills. In practical terms, is the child on a par with other students in the class, or what does the child need to catch up on?
The second step is observation. Familiarize yourself with their previous report cards and grading. As mentioned, if possible, speak to their previous teacher. Alternatively, find an appropriate quick test that can be conducted to determine the level of the student or the class. Do some research and ask for advice from the principal or a mentor.
Tip 70: Grading
Don’t let the grading pile up; make a schedule for marking. This is the reality of teaching — there will always be a constant flow of marking that needs to be done. You’re going to have to grade papers, or check homework, it never ends. But we are human and we have our own lives to think about too. That’s why it’s important to have a schedule for marking if you’re at school have your time where you can work without interruption, or if you’re at home, put some time aside where you can just sit, listen to music and do some marking.
Most experienced teachers have some sort of marking schedule and they are always ahead with their work, but life happens and we just don’t always have time. However, try not to fall too far behind because it’s very difficult to catch up.
Tip 71: Separate Work and Home
Set some boundaries between your home life and work life. We shouldn’t bring our homes to work and similarly, we shouldn’t take our work back home except for marking.
We need to have a clear divide between what happens at school and what happens at home. Because you are only human, you should take care of your family and your own needs and then, when you get to school, switch on that professional you and focus on teaching. It is sometimes very difficult to find space in between the two, but make sure that you find some way of doing it.
If you constantly talk about work at home, it’s going to have an adverse effect on your family because they want to spend time with you and not just your job. Also, if you are at work, you need to focus on what you’re doing and your students, it is not professional to bring in your home life all the time. So, have a boundary between the two.