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Professional effectiveness

February 20, 2008

Hello again,

When teachers are new to the profession, they rely heavily on what their training has told them about how to teach. But I think there is a big difference between putting into practice the techniques and skills you have developed ...

...through training and really developing your professional effectiveness. My point is that each teaching situation is new and unique. Each one will offer challenges that you cannot really be totally prepared for by training. Instead, as teachers we have to develop our effectiveness by understanding ourselves and learning how to manage ourselves.

The key areas for self-development are:
◦ management of time and workload;
◦ self-motivation;
◦ managing performance;
◦ motivating and influencing others;
◦ communicating assertively;
◦ building and maintaining confidence;
◦ dealing with difficult people and situations;
◦ managing change;
◦ managing stress and building resilience;
◦ conflict-resolution and negotiation.

The teacher who feels confident in all these areas will be able to cope with any new classroom challenge that presents itself. I will look briefly at each point in this and subsequent posts.

Time management is of enormous importance in teaching. It is easy to feel overwhelmed by the amount of lesson-planning and administration that has to be done on top of the actual class contact. It helps to have a routine in which you have set times for preparation and then that you stick to them. Also make your planning efficient: recycle the lessons so that you are not constantly reinventing the wheel. I looked through my teaching materials the other day and I saw that I have about 40 flexible lesson frameworks I use in English for business that I can adapt easily to new situations, different levels and different professional backgrounds. Of course I also plan lessons to suit specific clients and groups but about eighty percent of my teaching stems from my existing materials.

Self-motivation is what keeps you enthusiastic and enthusiastic teachers in turn motivate their students. Being self-motivated means wanting to do something, feeling confident you can do it and making concrete plans for achieving it. If you feel you lack self-motivation try analyzing your working life into all its separate activities. Work out what you enjoy about each one and what you don’t like. Next think of ways of increasing time spent on what you like and ways of coping with that you don’t like in ways that will make them more tolerable. Even altering the order in which you do things can help. So, if you can get the less pleasant work done earlier in the day, you will more positive about the rest of the day.

Managing performance might seem to be more the job of your D.O.S or manager. But to feel effective you need to feel that you can control the quality of your work. List the areas that you want to improve. Plan some first steps that will help you: ask for advice and assistance if you need it. Get feedback from your students on each item and modify your approach in response if necessary.

These aspects of self management help you feel in control and should boost your confidence and self-esteem.

More soon.

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