Characteristics of a Good IELTS Instructor
May 18, 2011 Teacher Training 2395 Views
There seems no shortage of ideas regarding what defines a “good” teacher in the context of IELTS instruction. Teachers and teaching have become subjects of conversation by a wide range of interested specialists. The literature contains a vast range of ideas, preconceptions and vested interests, each with a point of view to expound. One difficulty encountered in reviewing the literature is the way in which “good teacher,” “good teaching,” and “effective teaching” are often used almost interchangeably. They are, in my estimation, not the same thing. “Good teaching practices” can be employed by nearly anyone. Employing such practices does not, in itself, make one a “good” teacher. The problem with “effective teaching” as a measure is that it is generally related to some measure of “student achievement,” most often some sort of standardized test. Are such scores a valid measure of teacher “goodness”? I do not believe so. A “good” teacher should certainly be effective, and use those methods that seem to him most suited to the task at hand. However, there is another dimension to all this which separates the “good” teacher from the skillful technician.
The definitions of teacher “goodness” are not universally applicable. The concern of the teacher must be to determine what “goodness” means within his own teaching context. In the rest of the article, I have elaborated on various categories and sub-disciplines related to the concept of "Good Teacher" (Parker Palmer, 1990).
2. Characteristics of a good teacher
Generally and with considering the field of IELTS instruction, the features and characteristics of a good IELTS instructor can be summarized as follow:
1. Knows the subject matter.
a. Regularly reads books and professional journals on the subject.
b. Maintains an up-to-date file.
c. Takes classes, in-service training, and other opportunities to learn about the subject matter.
2. Is prepared for class.
a. Has a detailed outline for the year.
b. Prepares weekly class outlines.
c. Allots preparation time.
d. Periodically evaluates use of class time.
e. Avoids frequent irrelevant anecdotes and departures from the subject (a sure indication of lack of preparation or interest in the subject).
f. Plans useful homework and assignments.
3. Acquires and maintains excellent teaching skills.
a. Explains ideas clearly.
b. Asks fellow teachers to offer suggestions.
c. Swaps ideas with other teachers.
d. Attends seminars or classes on teaching techniques.
e. Makes the subject interesting.
4. Has a good relationship with students.
a. Is courteous and fair to all students regardless of intelligence or social class.
b. Avoids sarcasm or humiliation.
c. Knows students personally by name and background.
d. Does not attempt to establish a buddy relationship, but maintains appropriate professional distance.
e. Likes students; talks with them easily.
f. Finds means of obtaining student feedback or suggestions and makes use of them.
g. Allows for individual differences.
3. Recognizing and Identifying Instructional Strategies
Some useful instructional strategies applicable to the field of teacher education/training are presented here to be concentrated on and for sure they are helpful in directing the IELTS instructor to find their path on the road of teaching Language Skills required in IELTS Examination.
v Lecture/presentation: Teacher talks almost all the time. If students participate verbally, their interaction is minimal with questions and responses that are either very short obvious answer.
v Problem modeling: Teacher demonstrating or modeling how to solve a new problem.
v Student presentation: e.g., student lecture, demonstration.
v Lecture with discussion: Teacher talks most of the time. This differs from Lecture in that students participate by answering questions that generally require more than a one-word answer. This differs from class discussion in that there is almost no student-to-student communication.
v Teacher demonstration: Teacher shows how something works or how to do something. This differs from Problem Modeling in that it involves the use of some type of equipment or materials.
v Class discussion: Almost all student-to-student talk in full class setting.
v Writing work: Writing individually on worksheets, lab write-ups, journal entries, or other writing assignments, or combined with Small Group Discussion.
v Reading seatwork: Reading their textbooks or other written material.
v Small group discussion: Students (2 or more) engage in conversation with each other about subject matter in small groups.
v Hands-on activity/materials: Students participate in an activity that involves manipulating materials.
v Cooperative learning: Structured Small Group Discussion with individual roles, group accountability, and group processing.
v Learning center/station: Students working at various stations related to particular topics. This may occur in elementary classrooms or in laboratory classes.
v Teacher interacting with students(s): Teacher moving among individuals or groups of students and talking to them.
v Utilizing digital educational media and/or technology: e.g., unique use of computers, calculators, videotapes, or other types of technology, not adding, multiplying, viewing overhead projections, or word processing.
v Out-of-class experience: e.g., field trips, intersections with other classrooms, concerts.
v Assessment: e.g., quiz, think aloud, problem set, exam, informal observation.
v Administrative tasks: Teacher and students take care of nonacademic business, i.e., taking attendance, collecting homework, etc.
v Interruption: e.g., unexpected announcements, visitor, student disruption.
4. Directed Teaching Model Steps in Executing the Process
Various steps and procedures are recommended in many teaching skills books on how to conduct a course and handle a class; however, none has been published specifically concerning the IELTS classes. Here I have summarized the most significant steps in executing the processes of handling and running an IELTS class.
This portion of the class aims at establishing a state of readiness for the instruction and at relating the lesson to previous learning. The time allocated for this phrase should probably not exceed ten minutes allowing just enough time to get students in a receptive frame of mind. Reserve the major portion of the time for instruction related to the current lesson’s objective.
4.2. State the Objective
State the purpose of the activity. Tell what the students will learn.
4.3. Model/Explain the Learning
Explain to students as if they do not know anything about what you are teaching. Provide examples, demonstrate the learning, and use questions to guide the learning. If this is a discovery lesson, let the students arrive at the answer inductively.
4.4. Check for Understanding
Provide feedback and reinforcement; ask questions and answer questions. Encourage students to express confusion/misunderstanding and to ask for examples.
4.5. Guided Practice
Give directions for the activity; identify materials and their use; determine the means of collecting and reporting data. Provide continuous feedback and reinforcement. Make corrections. Monitor and make contact with all students. Give learning cues. Re-teach areas of confusion.
Summarize main points. Review and reemphasize main points. Pull information together. Ask students to give the main points.
4.7. Independent Practice
Students work independently. Time limits should be set.
Check to see if the objective has been met. Provide enrichment for those who master the objective. Re-teach using different strategies and materials for those who do not master the objective.
5. Key Strategies for Discipline in the Classroom
Many teachers feel anxious when they are asked to run an IELTS class. Mostly they believe that the expectation level of IELTS candidates are much higher than the other students and much more than the level their capabilities to handle the class. Therefore, they refuse to accept any IELTS class. Here some significant strategies to control the class are outlined. Following these strategies can help such kinds of teacher to feel more comfortable while teaching an IELTS class.
ü Teachers can mean business without being mean.
ü Be tough but fair.
ü School control begins in the classroom.
ü Forcing compliance is not always required to be in charge.
ü Contact parents before something negative happens.
ü Respect all students.
ü Use positive intervention.
ü Be assertive.
ü Allow the students to help make the rules.
ü Teach the rules and review the rules.
ü Teach procedures the first day of school.
ü Tough love teaches a lesson.
ü Make each child feel loved and secure.
ü Teach procedures, practice them, and review them.
ü Set limits.
ü Don’t major in minors.
ü Manage your consequences and be consistent.
ü Don’t take students misbehavior personally.
ü Avoid power struggles, arguments, and negotiating.
ü Don’t accept anything but the students’ best.
ü Explain it if you expect it.
6. What are Best Practices?
Best practices are teaching strategies proven to be effective in the classroom. (These are quoted from "Best Practices: New Standards for teaching and Learning in America’s Schools", Zelman S., Daniels H., Hyde A., Heinemann, 1998).