Hey there, fellow educators and Instagram enthusiasts! Today, I want to talk about a nifty feature on everyone’s favorite photo-sharing platform: Instagram Threads. We all know that Instagram is great for sharing snapshots of our lives, but did you know it can also be a fantastic tool to support teaching and learning? That’s right! In this blog post, I’ll walk you through some creative ways teachers can leverage Instagram Threads to engage their students and make learning a whole lot more exciting. Let’s dive in.
#1: Creating a Private Classroom Community
Imagine having a space where you can interact with your students outside the traditional classroom setting. Instagram Threads provides just that! You can create a private group solely for your class, allowing for open discussions, sharing resources, and fostering a sense of community. It’s an excellent platform to keep the conversation going beyond the classroom walls and make learning a collaborative experience.
#2: Sharing Timely Updates and Reminders
Remember those times when you had to make last-minute announcements or reminders, and you wished your students could see them instantly? With Instagram Threads, you can quickly post updates, reminders, or even schedule them in advance. It ensures that important information reaches your students promptly, and you can bid farewell to those “I didn’t know about it!” excuses.
#3: Encouraging Visual Storytelling
Instagram is all about visual content, and Threads takes it up a notch! As a teacher, you can leverage this feature to encourage your students’ creativity through visual storytelling. Assign projects where students can capture and share images or short videos related to the topics they’re studying. It adds an exciting dimension to learning and allows students to express themselves in unique ways.
#4: Instigating Dialogue and Debates
Discussion is an integral part of education, and Threads provides an ideal platform for fostering meaningful conversations. Teachers can initiate discussions by posting thought-provoking questions or prompts related to the lesson material. Students can then respond, share their perspectives, and engage in healthy debates. This helps develop critical thinking skills and encourages active participation.
#5: Showcasing Student Work
Who doesn’t love recognition and appreciation for their hard work? Instagram Threads can be an excellent avenue for showcasing student achievements. Create a designated space to highlight exceptional projects, artwork, or any other outstanding work by your students. Not only does this motivate them, but it also inspires others and creates a positive classroom culture.
#6: Conducting Virtual Q&A Sessions
Want to provide additional support or address student queries outside regular class hours? Instagram Threads offers a seamless way to organize virtual Q&A sessions. Dedicate specific time slots where students can post their questions, and you can respond with detailed explanations or clarifications. It promotes active learning and demonstrates your commitment to student success.
Remember, while Instagram Threads can be an incredibly useful tool, it’s crucial to prioritize privacy and ensure all interactions are conducted in a safe and secure manner. Always adhere to your school’s guidelines and obtain necessary permissions from parents or guardians.
So, there you have it! Instagram Threads can be a game-changer when it comes to supporting teaching and learning. By tapping into its features, teachers can create engaging, interactive, and visually appealing learning experiences for their students. So why not give it a try? Your classroom is just a click away from a vibrant online community.
Stay connected, stay inspired, and let’s explore the incredible possibilities that Instagram Threads brings to our educational journey. Happy teaching, everyone!
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Firstly, I’ll begin with a big hello and a salute to every teacher reading this right now. Many of us taught through the grueling COVID years and made it (unscathed, albeit exhausted) to the other side.
That is an achievement in and of itself.
Those of us who stayed in teaching have shown tremendous resilience. COVID destabilized so many schools and demoralized so many teachers – so much so, that more teachers are leaving the profession than those that are applying for open vacancies.
For those of us who did decide to stick to our guns, post-pandemic teaching has brought with it some new challenges that were somewhat unexpected:
Children are fed up of doing online tasks, and now expect more human-interactivity in lessons. Teachers need to be more active within their lessons than ever before – we simply cannot get way with setting our kids some work to do whilst we check e-mails and do admin. This kind of dovetailing simply cannot happen anymore.
Many of our students are way behind, since they picked up misconceptions and did not learn deeply enough during the COVID years. Many of us are now trying to teach advanced concepts to children who have little foundational knowledge.
The ways in which we taught students before COVID are not necessarily the ways we should teach students in the post-COVID years
As a result of these challenges, we need to be more organized than ever before if we are to stay in the game. So, are you ready to level up and become even more efficient? Well, you’re in luck! In this blog post, we’re going to explore five practical ways you can boost your efficiency in 2023 and beyond. Get ready to embrace new strategies, tools, and ideas that will make your teaching journey a breeze. So, let’s dive right in!
#1: Embrace the power of technology (but don’t let it take over)
In this digital age, technology is your trusty sidekick. From interactive whiteboards to educational apps, find tech tools that align with your teaching style and make your life easier. Harness the power of online platforms for grading, communication, and lesson planning. Let technology be your secret weapon in conquering classroom chaos!
Utilise live quiz apps like Blooket, Quizlet Live, Quizziz, Kahoot! and iSpring Quizmaker to get your students interacting with lesson content. It’s important that the teacher is active during these tasks too – comment on scores along the way, use humor and walk around the classroom to help students.
Use G Suite tools to aid with collaborative project work. Google Sheets, Docs, Sites and Slides all allow students to create high-quality outputs in real-time, in groups. Think of ways to utilize these tools to your advantage. Some ideas are given here.
Utilise Virtual Learning Environments to share resources and communicate with your students. Google Classroom, Firefly, Moodle and Class Dojo are all great platforms that I highly recommend. Share slides and summaries ahead of time if you can – this will allow your students the opportunity to read ahead.
Technology warning – do not replace human teaching with technology-driven teaching. Whilst there’s so much great software out there that will literally teach children all they need to know about a subject or topic, the children attending school today do not want this. They’ve had enough of educational software as they were heavily exposed to it during the COVID years when they were learning remotely. It’s back to basics, I’m afraid – paper-based tasks, spatial learning and active engagement are in-vogue and will be for some time to come.
#2: Streamline Lesson Planning
Create a system that saves time and energy during lesson planning. Organize resources, templates, and activities in a central location for easy access. Collaborate with fellow teachers and share ideas to lighten the load. Remember, a well-planned lesson is a successful lesson!Read my top 7 strategies for efficient lesson planninghere. Here’s a quick summary:
Plan in a way that works for you personally:The methods of lesson planning that I use personally have changed and evolved over the course of my career, just as I have changed and evolved too. The methods I use work for me, and that allows me to express myself in the best and most natural way possible.
Always get a quick starter activity ready: You’ll often find that there are many great workbooks full of activities and worksheets published and ready for you to use. A small investment of money in resources like this can save you loads of time that you may have spent making resources from scratch.
Always include a quick plenary:This can be as simple as getting the students to stand at the front of the class and do some quick-fire questioning, playing a learning game or even getting groups of students to verbalize their own summary.
Keep your plans and reuse them year after year: There’s no point in reinventing the wheel. Keep your planners safe and organised and use them again and again when you teach the same or similar content. Modify as you go along.
Look online for Schemes of Work, Programmes of Study and lesson plans that other people have created:You’ll be surprised at the wealth of information available. I’ve personally done this many times in the past. A quick search on a search engine can pull up many documents that you can use, modify and change to suit your own lesson planning.
Use published Schemes of Work to assist you: All examination boards produce Course Guides or syllabuses, and some will even provide Schemes of Work. Use the content from these to inform your lesson planning, particularly if you’re filling in an ‘Objectives’ or ‘Learning Outcomes’ section.
Take a long-term view:If you teach students who will take exams in May, for example, then you should know which exact topics you’ll need to cover each month in order to give you enough time to do revision and get the students ready for their exams on time.
#3: Automate Routine Tasks
Don’t let paperwork and administrative tasks steal your precious time. Seek out apps and software that automate grading, attendance, and reporting. Free yourself from the never-ending stack of papers and focus on what you do best—teaching!
Check out these blog posts and sites for some great ideas on how to automate some of your routine work:
I’ve mentioned this point many times before in blog posts and podcast episodes, but I really must emphasize again that we must PRIORITIZE self-care.
When we look after ourselves, we are better able to teach. It’s that simple.
Burnt out, stressed teachers occupy too many classrooms (often through no fault of their own). We must do what we can to counteract the stressors that affect us.
Being an efficient teacher starts with taking care of yourself. Remember to recharge your batteries, both mentally and physically. Get enough sleep, exercise, and enjoy hobbies outside of the classroom. A happy teacher is a highly efficient teacher!
Read more tips on how to be a happy teacher in this great blog post by Jessica Robinson.
#5: Embrace Flexibility
The ability to adapt and be flexible is a superpower in the ever-changing world of education. Embrace innovative teaching techniques, experiment with new approaches, and adjust your lesson plans to meet your students’ evolving needs. Stay open-minded, and your efficiency will skyrocket!
We stayed in the profession despite the massive challenges we faced during COVID, yet new challenges have presented themselves since schools reopened. Being a teacher in the post-COVID years is, and is going to be, more challenging than it has ever been before. For those of us who are tired and fed up, we MUST find ways to raise our energy levels so that we can engage our students. Our paperwork, once a task we could partly do within lessons, must be completed in our free periods and our free time – and that requires good organizational systems to be in-place.
On top of all of these new challenges we face professionally, we also find ourselves on a common personal battlefield – that of our wellbeing. Here’s a big newsflash just in case you missed the memo – your school, your district and your government are NOT responsible for your personal mental and physical health and will probably do little to help you anyway. We must prioritize our own happiness and wellbeing. For some of us (me included), this means that everything must change – from how we wake up in the morning, to how we embrace fitness opportunities and get deep, restful sleep.
Good teaching is built upon the foundations of effective classroom management. Most teachers recognise this, and I believe that’s why my 2015 book, The Quick Guide to Classroom Management, became an award-winning bestseller within a very short timeframe. We know that order must be maintained in the classroom for deep learning to take place, but how do we maintain that order in a way that is not confrontational, or stifling, for our students?
Thankfully, we have the wise words and fresh perspective of a great expert to guide us today. I’ve invited Mitch Metzger from Destination TEFL, Bangkok, to share his top tips for using proactive and reactive classroom management strategieswith our students.
Let’s face it, classroom management is the hardest part about teaching abroad.
Managing a classroom in ANY country is an immense challenge. It requires emotional intelligence and a deep understanding of human behavior. It involves aspects of psychology, educational pedagogy, and even philosophy.
Managing a classroom abroad means doing all of this on TOP of the fact that your students don’t speak your language!
But there are simple mindset and habit changes you can make that will immediately improve your ability to manage a classroom abroad. Mastery may take years, but applying what you learn in this post can have you managing like a pro in a matter of weeks.
ESL classroom management is a challenge, but it’s also an incredible opportunity. An opportunity to improve your EQ. An opportunity to become an expert at body language and non-verbal communication. An opportunity to learn transferable professional, personal, and leadership skills that will change your life even once you move on from the classroom.
Studies have also shown that these skills in teachers have a direct and significant impact on student achievement. At the end of the day, it’s all about our students.
Working to change their lives is what truly changes our lives.
So grab a notepad and pen (or, let’s be real, your phone), and let’s dive into some strategies that will put you on the path to classroom management mastery!
What is Classroom Management, actually?
Before we get into the secret sauce, it’s essential to first understand what we’re actually talking about when we say “classroom management”.
Because it’s not what most people think it is.
For many people, those words elicit memories of teachers yelling, sending kids out of the room, and otherwise strictly enforcing a set of rules “because I said so”.
Think about it, how did most of your teachers enforce classroom rules when you were growing up? Yeah, ours too…
Unfortunately, monkey see monkey do and we’re just really smart monkeys. Many of us, myself included early on in my career, fall back on the same disciplinary tactics of our teachers.
But that’s not what classroom management is supposed to be. At least, not great classroom management!
Great classroom management is about getting the most out of your students. Creating a safe space where they can make mistakes and try again. Developing deep bonds and trust with your students. Helping them to create a better vision for their own futures.
Most of all, it means being a true role model. We can’t expect students to do as we say and not as we do. After all, did we when we were young?
So how can we change the paradigm of classroom management? Good question, probably a bit too big to be solved in a single blog post (I smell a series). However, there is one simple shift that can make an immense difference.
Simple, but not necessarily easy.
Proactive vs. Reactive Classroom Management
Understanding (and actually creating habits around) proactive versus reactive classroom management strategies seems like a small change. However, it will forever change the way you manage your classroom, especially while teaching English abroad.
The difference is in the fundamental approach you take to potential issues in your classroom.
Reactive strategies involve solving problems that have already occurred. Disciplining “bad” behavior, what most people think of when they hear classroom management, falls into this category.
Proactive strategies are about anticipating potential problems and putting systems in place to prevent them from happening in the first place.
I like to say reactive strategies are putting out the fire. Proactive strategies are not putting a candle near the drapes.
After all, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
This is all nice in theory, but what do these different approaches look like in practice? What are some concrete strategies you can actually use in the classroom?
Reactive Classroom Management
Let’s start with reactive management behaviors. Now this isn’t necessarily “what not to do” (though some of these definitely fall into this category). Problems will inevitably arise in the classroom, and sometimes you’ll need to ‘react’.
However, these should be more of a last resort. Only leaning on these strategies, or using the wrong reactive strategies, is where problems can arise.
So, let’s look at various reactive strategies and see which might be effective and which should be left behind.
Reactive strategies to avoid
Some habits you’ll want to be careful to NOT get into include:
Yelling at students
Using shame as a discipline strategy (easier to fall into than it sounds)
Removing students from the classroom
Getting emotional or visibly frustrated
Not checking your biases
One thing we always train our teachers to take special note of is this: You can’t expect immediate compliance.
The truth is, respect and trust have to be earned. It doesn’t matter if the people you’re leading are 50 years old or five, you have to do the work to earn their buy-in.
Too many teachers expect their students to immediately listen to everything they say and get distraught or upset when that doesn’t happen.
But students are people too, and we don’t particularly like taking orders from people we barely know and trust. Right?
Effective reactive strategies
Like we said, problems in the classroom are inevitable. Occasionally you’re going to have to put out some fires (hopefully not literally), so it helps to have a good extinguisher.
Some effective strategies include:
Practicing patience and empathy, even in stressful situations
Having a word or action that refocuses attention on you (e.g., clapping patterns, short phrases, etc.)
Keeping other students busy with a task while addressing issues
Having a calming space in the classroom students can go to when feeling overwhelmed.
This is NOT a timeout. It should be a comfortable space (seating, plants, maybe even a little fountain) students want to go to, you just have to train them on when they can be there.
Adding these strategies to your teacher tool belt will help you solve problems whenever they occur.
Proactive Classroom Management
Now time for the real secret sauce! Proactive classroom management strategies will completely change your classroom when done right.
So let’s learn how to do them right!
Here are 3 simple strategies to prevent problems from arising in the first place.
#1 – Be completely prepared for EVERY class
Let’s be real, it can be tough to prepare 20+ engaging classes per week. As a teacher, it’s easy to slide into a bad habit of not fully preparing for every class.
Whether this is just teaching straight out of the book, or over-relying on worksheets from the internet, underprepared classes are the top culprit for why students misbehave in the first place. We know that young learners (and hell, even people our age) have short attention spans. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that if students aren’t engaged consistently throughout the lesson they’ll lose focus, and this inevitably leads to classroom behavior issues.
So put in the groundwork and prep your lessons.
Work to make them physically and intellectually engaging. Challenge your students. Find ways to make the material relevant to their lives. And most importantly, have all of your lessons fully resourced and ready to go.
Another pro tip here is to work on your transitions. Any ‘gap’ in the lesson is an opportunity for students to potentially misbehave, so filling those gaps ensures students don’t veer off track.
This tip isn’t really fun, because it requires a bit more work on your part. But a bit more work in the preparation will pay off immensely in the form of better lessons, stronger relationships with your students, and better mental health. After all, nothing is more taxing than an ‘out of control’ classroom.
#2 – Get to know your students
This seems like a given, but you’d be shocked (and appalled) at the number of ESL teachers who don’t even bother to learn all of their students’ names.
In their defense (kind of), I’ve had jobs where I have taught hundreds of students. It can be tough to learn that many names, let alone get to know them all.
Yet too many teachers lean on that excuse as a reason not to really get to know their students at all. They spend all of their time in the ‘teachers’ lounge’, or only interact with their students for the 55 minutes of English class each day.
The truth is, though, there is NO better classroom management strategy than strong bonds with your students. If they trust you, if they respect you, if they like you, they will listen to you.
So what can you actually do to bond with your students?
Get a class roster, make name cards, or employ other strategies to learn their names
ASK them about their interests, and talk about yours
Eat lunch with them or play with them at recess from time to time
Come to school a bit early, or do your grading at school and leave a bit late
This doesn’t have to be too much, maybe 15 minutes. But you can get a lot of informal facetime with your students in those quiet little moments before or after school.
Learn a bit of their language (and practice where they can see you!)
If you follow these simple tips you’ll be amazed at how quickly you can get to know your students!
#3 – Let the students make the rules
I know, it sounds crazy. But hear us out…
Letting your students make the rules can be a powerful technique when it comes to actually enforcing the rules. Think about it: aren’t you more likely to follow rules you come up with yourself?
People naturally don’t like being told what to do, so if you give the students the power to decide what rules are fair then they’re much more likely to follow through.
It also makes it way easier for you to enforce the rules. Instead of saying “do this because I said so” you get to fall back on “Hey, these aren’t even my rules. YOU came up with these!”. Trust me, the latter is far superior.
Now, you’ll have to steer the conversation a bit to make sure some essential rules are hit. But this can be as easy as one or two leading questions. “Is it a good idea to talk if the teacher is talking?”
In the ESL classroom, you may also need the help of a co-teacher that speaks the students’ native language. It doesn’t take a really high level of English to make some of these rules, but if your students are at a lower level it’ll be good to have someone there to help formulate their thoughts if they don’t have the vocab for it.
The final proactive management tip
To wrap things up, I want to leave you with one more proactive tip.
Take care of YOURSELF!
Yes, proper self-care and work life balance is absolutely essential for classroom management. If you’re overwhelmed or burnt out, it will inevitably impact your students. Energy is contagious, and as the leader you are the conduit for the classes’ energy. This makes it important to learn to control your own energy.
So meditate, journal, go for walks, do yoga, eat healthy, travel on the weekends, pursue hobbies that interest you. Set up good, sustainable systems for work life balance. Grow in areas you feel are important for your life. The best teachers by FAR are happy teachers (not an opinion, studies show this to be true), so be sure to do things that make you happy.
If you do that, then teaching itself will become one of those things!
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