February 9, 2015

How to correct common teaching errors

We get lots of enquiries about teaching errors and mistakes, so we have decided to write a guide to the most common errors and offer some brief guidance for you so that they can be avoided.

 How to correct common teaching errors by attending AETRemember these mistakes are not unique to new teachers or to candidates thinking of attending the AET course, they are also possible to observe in lessons taught by experienced teaching professionals. Luckily most of them are easily avoided or corrected, once you know how.

Getting the timing right – Just like a good comedy show or well acted play all great teaching relies on good timing to work properly. If you don’t get your time-management sorted out then your lesson will go off like a damp squib. For starters you’ll need to make sure that your lessons begin and end on time, and it often turns out that this isn’t as easy as it sounds. It’s not just a case of getting going and then keeping an eye on the clock – like a vintage steam train pulling out of the station a good lesson depends on plenty of preparation beforehand and no little amount of effort. Make sure that you have prepared and planned your lesson well in advance; on the AET course your tutor will guide you through the lesson planning process. This will involve making a clear and detailed plan of all the activities which you will include in your lesson, including allocating an appropriate amount of time for each activity. Remember this could include some set up time or student debriefing, so it’s important to get these details correct.
A common mistake which harms both lesson quality and timing is too much Teacher Talking Time (TTT), and this is rife even amongst experienced teachers. It appears that some people just love the sound of their own voice, I’m sure that we all know somebody who could talk the hind leg off a donkey ! However it is very important not to let your teaching involve too much talking or end up talking about yourself too much. Lecturing is of course an important and valued teaching method but you should use this sparingly and intersperse it with other activities which engage learners and keep their attention.

This brings us onto another common, but easily fixed, problem – not engaging students enough. In order to solve this you need to ensure that you select the sorts of teaching methods that interest students and keep them actively participating with what is going on. Pick a variety of different tasks and planning activities for students to undertake during your lesson, this will help to keep students’ interest and get them involved. Remember that if people are taking part then they are much more likely to be absorbing the skills and knowledge you are trying to give them.

Too much information – We all live in a world of information overload. We are constantly bombarded by a plethora of thing demanding our attention: emails, tv adverts, text messages, Facebook updates, pop-up ads and website banners. Living in this environment can lead us to the false impression that we can all cope with massive amounts of information. In reality there is only a small amount of new information that we can properly absorb and retain at one time, this includes your students. To overcome this make sure that you break up your lessons into easily manageable portions, with bite-sized chunks of information distributed throughout the course. Be careful to schedule regular breaks for your learners – research has shown that learning retention is much better when training is delivered in short sections as the optimum attention span is well under an hour.

Getting in a muddle with the kit – Using modern technology is one of the great advantages of teaching in the 21st century. Compared with what was available in the past we are blessed with a cornucopia of wonderful gadgets and tricks which were beyond the dreams of our predecessors. Digital projectors, tablets, video streaming, cloud computing, collaborative software and interactive boards can all make our lives both easier and more productive. A common teaching error is to start a lesson which relies on technology but then get is a mess when the technology does not perform as expected or just does not work when you need it. This is not only embarrassing for you as a professional but it also harms the learning experience for the students and disrupts your planned lesson. To avoid this teaching problem you’ll need to do plenty of spadework before your lesson.  To start with completely familiarise yourself with the equipment and software you are going to use, not just knowing how to switch it on but how to change default settings, how to log in and out quickly and how to carry our a reset, reboot etc. This will pay dividends when you are in front of a group of students waiting for you to teach them something useful. Don’t leave yourself in the position of having to rely on call out the IT department or asking a colleague right in the middle of a lesson – get the skills and ability needed to row your own boat. You will then be able to troubleshoot any glitches that occur and your candidates will be concentrating on what you are teaching them.

In conclusion do you best to avoid timing errors, too much talking, not keeping your candidates interested, overloading them with information or getting muddled with equipment. Your tutor on the AET course will help you overcome all these problems.

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