For most teachers, managing and supporting students constitutes the main substance of their work. There is a great deal of importance in further education on supporting and managing students while they are studying and learning. Students are offered with various services which includes advice, guidance, tutoring and counselling. These services are offered to students as soon as they enrol into the college. Teachers and existing students describe the learning opportunities which are available and experts give advice on issues such as Educational Maintenance Allowance and advice for those with learning difficulties.
At present, I teach the ESOL students of Brooke House Sixth Form College Information Technology. During my teaching, I managed and supported my students by acting as a mentor, by communicating effectively with them, by actively listening to my students, being empathetic and providing constructive feedback to them.
The Teacher as mentor
A mentor is someone who takes a special interest in helping another person develop into a successful professional. A mentoring relationship develops over an extended period, during which a student’s needs and the nature of the relationship tend to change. A mentor will try to be aware of these changes and vary the degree and type of attention, help, advice, information, and encouragement that he or she provides.
* Mentoring skills: – This means teachers treating students with love and respect, encouraging right behaviour and correcting wrongful actions. At present, I serve as an effective caregiver to my students, loving and respecting my students, helping them succeed at their work and building their self-esteem by treating each student as having worth and dignity. I demonstrate a high level of respect and responsibility both inside and outside the classroom.
Communication is essentially about one person who sends a message which is received by a second person1. It is important to maintain eye contact with students when a teacher is talking to them, this shows that the teacher is interested in what the learners have to say. When communicating with my students, I try to eliminate distracting behaviours such as playing with my hands, staring out of the window or doing something else whilst listening to them. My job as a teacher is to encourage my students and not to put them down or control them.
When communicating with learners, a good teacher should let learners know the importance of the topic they are teaching, use questions to involve the students and monitor understanding. They should include examples from the students experience, I do this with my ESOL students. Teachers should also use an appropriate level of work, be aware of new vocabulary and recap at the beginning of every lesson and summarise at the end. Teachers should not use unexplained jargon, they should let students know that they are talking to them for their benefit and finally a good teacher ought to use language appropriate to the ability of the students
Few people are very good listeners because they are too busy thinking about what they want to say next. Teachers often hear what students are saying, but are they really listening?
On a weekly basis, I provide an informal after class consultation group where by I listen to students in order to ascertain any problems or issues which they might have. I listen to students’ comments and queries with regards to how the class went and their issues of concern. The aim and objective of this consultation group is to improve the lesson. In the session I alter my communication to suit an informal audience to bridge barriers for the ESOL students I teach. For example, I use very simple English so that students can understand me better.
In my opinion, because the consultation group is informal, I get constructive feedback from my students on how to improve my teaching to suit their individual learning needs and requirements.
‘Empathy is the intellectual identification with or vicarious experiencing of the feelings, thoughts, or attitudes of another’2. Empathy relates closely with listening. One practical way of developing a caring and secure environment is for the teacher to listen with empathy at the end of class. At the end of my class, I usually ask my students to reflect on whether the learning goals were easy or difficult, and what feelings they experienced during the class. I ask them to do this, for about 20 to 40 seconds. A moment later, I then ask some one to volunteer to share his or her thoughts with the whole class. This is the point where I start to listen with empathy and then reflect on the feelings of the student’s comment.
Using empathy this way sends a clear message to my students that their experience and feelings are important. Because empathy is nonjudgmental, a learner’s sense of security is enhanced. Also, because the teacher is often seen as the leader, people are sincerely listened to and understood in this environment. According to Rogers and Kramer ‘Students report feeling acceptance when their teacher fosters sincere expression and understanding of feelings’3.
In order to support learners during teaching, a teacher must be available to answer questions and offer constructive feedback to students. Teachers should give feedback as soon as they have something meaningful to say, it should be given regularly because students need to know how they are doing and it should relate to something the student performed in class. If it is possible, feedback should be given on a one-to-one basis.
During my teaching with the ESOL group, I have offered effective feedback to students by jotting down notes of specific mistakes which they have made when speaking, I then give feedback on their grammar and accuracy. These particular students need this as English is there second language. I also assure them that their learning is important to me when I am speaking to them individually and I try to make a difference to those who really need help by providing extra feed back to them.
I also plan in formative assessment into the lesson plan and give homework to students in order to provide feedback. Finally, I ask them to give me their feedbacks to show them that I learn from feed back too.
Basic principles of classroom control
Class management is one of those expressions that cover everything that goes in the classroom. Although this may cover many aspects of teaching, the focus should always be on how to improve the quality of one’s lesson. A strong classroom management system helps all students develop positive classroom behaviour and organizational skills. A teacher can provide the important foundation for improving behaviours and promoting student success by maintaining an orderly classroom environment.
A teacher can gain and maintain classroom control by;
Being flexible and available to student
Teachers should try and learn the name of their students and say them. When I do this with my students they become very relaxed with me and they feel welcomed in the class. I try to get to the classroom 15 minutes before class starts in order to get everything ready for my students. Whenever a decision must be made, during class or outside, invite the students to take part.
Being fair and firm
If there is something about the classroom or a student’s behavior that’s unacceptable, I do not tolerate it. I try to keep a relaxed classroom atmosphere as possible. This helps students obey my reasonable request, and i think it is important that they can communicate freely with me and with each other without being disruptive. Fairness includes recognising good behavior and their effort. I praise my students for good behavior and I avoid sarcasm or shouting which can indicate loss of control.
Being knowledgeable of the content
Students will judge this by your ability to answer their questions. Welcome all questions as they arise. When a student asks questions for clarification, I often invite other students to give it a try at first. I often answer off-topic questions briefly and if it has already been covered, I mention this to the students and i remind the questioner to review.
Keeping the students focused
The most important thing a teacher must have is being able to explain the content clearly. I keep my students focused by involving them. Anything you can do which brings two or more students to the front of the room will keep the class focused. For example, when I ask one of my students to come and write on the board, the others get very interested and focused.
Developing the skills of the independent learner
I also support my students by helping them develop the skills of the independent learners.
Developing good study skills
What are study skills?
This is helping students take responsibility for their own active learning processes4. (See appendix 1 for the list of study hints)
Time management techniques
With full course loads, part-time jobs and numerous other commitments, students often find themselves with little time for studying and recreation.
To help organise their studies, I have advised students to manage their time by; (See appendix 2)
Overview of learning support available to students
I also support my students by referring them to the various learning support available to students in the college and outside the college.
* The Learning Resources Centre: Students can get access to information and resources from the LRC, e.g. books, PCs and magazines. As a member of the LRC team, I assist students with their course work, students are shown how to use new technology and we support the use of technology within coursework. Referring students to the LRC will promote independent learning and individual learning. Students are able to work on their without direct help from teachers. (see Appendix 3 for information on the LRC)
* Personal Tutors: I also support my students my referring them to their personal tutors who plan and implement the Tutorial Programme to meet the specific needs of their tutees, using a variety of activities including individual tutorials and group activities. Personal tutors also ensure that the learning support needs of individuals are assessed and referrals are made to specialist services where appropriate.
* Learning Support Assistants: Because English is their second language, my students are referred to relevant LSAs so that they could help improve the quality of students’ work. The LSAs work with students to carry out individual learning programmes, they support students with their coursework and assignments and they are ready to help students when they need any learning needs.
* Educational Maintenance Allowance: I support my students by signing EMA forms for students to receive their weekly money to enable then to pay for travel expenses and some college materials.
This scheme can provide support of up to 40 per week for 16-19 year olds from low income households who are studying full-time at school or college. Applicants must sign a learning agreement promising regular attendance at school or college; if attendance drops away, the Allowance will be lost.
There are certainly many more learning support systems available for students within the college and outside the college (please see appendix 3)
– Childcare support/protection
– Transport allowance
– Health and safety information
– Counselling services.
– Careers advice
– Technical support
– Student services
This is not about treating everybody equally but ensuring that everyone in the class has the same opportunity to learn and get their qualification.
All students must feel that they are positively and equally valued and accepted, and that their efforts to learn are recognised and judged without bias. It is not enough that they are tolerated. They must feel that they, and the groups to which they belong (e.g. ethnic, gender, social class or attainment groups) are fully and equally accepted and valued by you, and by the establishment in which you work. ‘Teachers should be fair, with no teachers’ pets, and no pet hates’5.
During my teaching and in my role as a Learning technologist in the Learning Resource Centre, I have implemented Equal Opportunities by:
* Encouraging my students to speak English in class as English is their second language.
* Valuing students equally , treating them with equal respect, offering and giving equal help
* Adopting assessment methods which do not penalise the ESOL students, for example, I use plain English with them when teaching so that they could understand me without any problems.
* Making sure that my teaching materials are in gender-free language.
* Dealing with sexist behaviour in students in firm but fair manner. I criticise the behaviour but not the students.
* Asking questions both male and female students questions.
* Making sure that materials and resources used, for example, OHPs, Handouts can be well read and seen
* Trying my best to help and support the quiet and shy students.
In conclusion, I would say that during my teaching, I have supported my students by treating them as individuals, showing them mutual respect, adapting learning to meet students’ needs, making learning relevant and accessible to students in order to motivate and make students focus, giving them constructive feedback about their learning and receiving feedback from them about my teaching and finally I also support them by referring them to various learning support available in the College and outside the college.
1 Teaching Training and learning by Ian Reece. Page 355
3 Rogers and Kramer 1995
4 Teaching Training and Learning: a practical guide by Ian Reece
5 A Practical Guide Teaching Today by Geoffrey Petty