School is often hard, anyone who has ever entered a classroom knows that. However, at the end of the year, no matter how tough it's been you will probably have something to thank your teacher for. There are some great teacher gifts out there. It's a wonderful gesture to thank a teacher for a year of school with a present and the choices go way beyond a shiny red apple. Some are truly top class! Whether you have been a model student or a class clown this year, you are bound to want to thank your teacher for the year.
A great option if you want to buy your teacher presents yourself is a personalised present. This means you can spend under 10 pounds and still give a gift that is personal and unique. Surely that means more to a teacher than something extravagant such as a watch or fountain pen? A great place to start would be to think of something the teacher could really use. Mugs, calendars and key rings can all be personalised and cost under a tenner. A personalised calendar is something that can be used the following year and every time they mark down a school trip or a homework deadline, your teacher will remember you.
A notebook is always a good option when it comes to teachers' presents. There are a number of personalised notebooks, all for around a fiver. A Drama teacher might get a kick out of a notebook with a Hollywood star on the front, emblazoned with their name. There are also themed notebooks ideal for Art teachers, English teachers and Maths teachers along with more general school-themed notebooks.
Other personalised gifts that can be bought at pocket money prices include bars of chocolate that can be personalised in the same way as the notebooks. Nothing keeps your teacher sweeter than delicious milk chocolate, right? Even sweeter than that, there are a number of different jars of retro sweets which can have their labels personalised. With a jar of sweets that says thank you, you can guarantee that good exam results will be rewarded with the retro sweets within. Your teacher will remember you for all the right reasons if your thank you present is something they can use long after you've headed off to college, university and beyond.
An obvious option for your favourite female teacher would be a gorgeous bunch of flowers. They will look beautiful on a desk and what lady doesn't love to receive flowers? There are loads of alternative teacher gifts that have the same effect and last far longer than a week. If you know that your teacher is the green-fingered type then you can buy them a plant that they can plant themselves in the garden. For around 20 pounds you can buy a gift box that contains a unique pack of rose seeds that you can name yourself officially. The rose seeds are registered with the name you choose. Your Drama teacher could have a rose in their garden for years to come named the 'To Be Or Not To Be' rose variety.
If you would rather give a card to the teacher than a whole present there are loads of options for the front. From apples to alphabets, there are plenty of themed cards that will say thanks to your teacher. They can be personalised to include the teacher's name on the front, something that is far more memorable than an ordinary shop-bought standard card, although it costs the same. You can even turn the tables on the teacher and get them a personalised report card. This is actually just another thank you card but the front is designed to grade the teacher on their prowess this year in subjects such as patience, sense of humour and being firm but fair (of course, the grades are excellent). The report card has their name at the top and will be guaranteed to raise a smile. Not bad for less than 3 pounds! Combine a card with your personalised teacher gifts to make their day.
Finally, if you fancy splashing out on something that your teacher is positively guaranteed to give an A+ to, you can get them a bottle of personalised champagne. With a specially printed label that thanks them for a year of lovely learning it will make their academic year end with a bang - it will also give you the opportunity to smuggle alcohol into the school with no risk of a detention.
What makes a good EFL teacher? "How long is a piece of string?" springs to mind but the answer may be much simpler than you think, because you probably tick many of the boxes already. You're probably asking this question because you are already or soon plan to be an EFL teacher. This means that you probably like working with people, that you prefer variety to routine, and that you are don't mind taking calculated risks. As a rule, Teaching English as a Foreign Language is one of the most satisfying jobs you can do because the vast majority of learners are highly-motivated, so all you need to do is try to recognise which aspect of your teaching skills needs to be used at any given time. Below are some suggestions about the different roles you'll find yourself playing - all of which combine to make a good teacher.
The Party Host
This job is about getting people chatting and communicating as much as possible, so a good EFL teacher needs to be approachable and create a friendly atmosphere in which plenty of communication can take place. At times this means you are more of a facilitator, rather like the host at a party, making sure each class member interacts with the others. You should organise and set up activities whereby the class get to know one another and talk freely about their opinions and their lives, just as they would if they met through a mutual friend. As any good host would, once they get chatting, just stand back and quietly observe; only join in when the conversation dries up. This minimizes your 'Teacher Talking Time' and maximises 'Student Talking Time', which is one of your main goals as a teacher. You simply need to have a great big smile on your face and a welcoming attitude towards your class members.
If you are new to EFL teaching, you might not feel like much of an expert yet. But you do have expertise because you can speak English better than your students, so you certainly have something valuable to share. A good EFL teacher may not know every single rule off by heart, but hopefully will have some idea of where to find out a rule for the next lesson if the students want it. He or she will also know if something sounds right or not, and can give reassurance to a student who is unsure about being correct. Furthermore, the good teacher can give a clear, concise model of the language. You'd be surprised just how many words you know in English and much of your job involves finding the right one for a student who wants to express a particular idea in English but doesn't yet have the vocabulary.
Occasionally, your students may have trouble with a certain piece of grammar or grasping the meaning and usage of some vocabulary. A good EFL teacher will to try to work out why this may be an issue - for example it could be interference from the way their L1 (mother tongue) is organised, so the item may not have any parallels for them. The teacher may be able to draw a sketch to explain meaning, or might produce a good timeline which sheds light on how a particular tense works. Occasionally it's helpful to make use of scales, such as:
[0% Never - Rarely - Sometimes - Often - Always 100%]
Or explain things using opposites or synonyms. A golden rule for troubleshooting, especially at lower levels, is 'show, don't tell'. If you can demonstrate meaning through mime, gesture, pictures or some other way, it's often much clearer than a verbose explanation.
Another role is that of giving advice when people ask for help and suggestions. Many students ask their teacher, "How can I learn new vocabulary?", "How can I remember the grammar rules?"; a good EFL teacher creates a mental resource file with some of these answers ready to hand. If you think about some of the questions you have had about language learning, see if you can come up with any suitable answers to those questions. But remember - you are not expected to be an Oracle. You can always throw the question open to the rest of the class first and see if anyone else has some good ideas. You can ask colleagues for their opinions, too. Pretty quickly, you will learn a whole pool of wisdom that you can pass on to future classes. At the same time, keep reminding your learners to try to take responsibility for their own learning. Train them to work out rules for themselves and guess the meaning of unknown vocabulary. A really good EFL teacher eventually does themselves out of a job!
The final role is simply one of being organised enough to turn up at the right time in the right location and get a class moving together towards a common aim. Each lesson should have a clear aim and resources prepared to guide learners towards this aim. This may be themed round a topic, focused towards a particular piece of grammar, or working on something which will eventually result in the class members passing an exam. A good EFL teacher knows where they are going with each class. They have an aim and most likely some sub-aims and goals too. They want the lesson to be fun, interesting, motivating and generally enjoyable so that effective learning takes place. In order to do that, they will employ a variety of activities with plenty of pair and group work to encourage communication. The good teacher makes sure that all 4 skills (reading, writing, listening and speaking) are touched upon regularly and that the class can see that they are making progress. Through well-prepared instructions, the organiser sets up activities and then gives appropriate praise, feedback and correction afterwards. They also check learning has taken place by asking concept questions and maybe setting up mini-quizzes and informal tests so that new language is not quickly forgotten.
There are doubtless other things which also contribute to being a good teacher. But to summarise, here are 10 key points taken from the ideas above:
* Smile and be welcoming
* Keep your TTT down and maximise STT
* Use plenty of pair and group work to facilitate interactive communication
* Use variety and changes of pace in your lessons
* Learn some tricks to aid memory and understanding of certain rules
* Always have an aim for your lesson
* Ensure a balance of skills is taught
* Give praise, feedback and correction
* Keep things fun and motivating wherever possible.
What makes a good EFL teacher? Well, it's very likely that you do!
Above all, do not send a note. I repeat, I've been teaching for nineteen years, do not send a note. When a teacher gets a note it can give them a feeling of failure. Especially if it is a long one with your signature. Think about this: "What if every day that you came into work, you received a detailed note from your customers about all the bad things you are doing on the job?"
That said, if you want to get through to your child's negative teacher, you are going to have to "Do unto them as you would have them do unto you." You are going to have to make tiny efforts to get to know them, like making comments after school like: "How was your weekend, how are you doing?" Simple communication builders can go a long long way.
Also, use the parent conference as your time to voice your concerns. But do it politely, wait until the end of the conference, and you have listened to the teachers' reports, then voice your concerns like you would to a police officer who just stopped you on the road-with respect, courtesy, and with the ultimate outcome of improved teaching and better treatment overall to your child.
Some other do nots! Do not attempt to stop a teacher after school and discuss serious issues. Do not stay after the bell rings and meet him/her in front of the class without permission. You'd be surprised how many parents do this one. You are sending the message that protocall is not important to you.
Do not call during the school day to set up a parent conference. Again, you'd be surprised how many parents do this one as well. Teachers have contract hours that must be spent instructing your children, and phone calls during school hours may interrupt teaching.
Also, it is my opinion, that every teacher can teach, I'm not saying every teacher is not negative, or burnt out, or just lousy in general. What I am saying is that 99% of the teachers I've met in my career genuinely love what they do, let's face it the pays not that great, and they love children and love creating life long learners.
That said, it would behoove you to take that viewpoint as well. Also, do not blame your child's teacher for their behavior problems. This is probably a number one among some parents. They wish to place blame on someone so of course they target the child's teacher. Again, I've been teaching for nineteen years, and I've never seen a child whom I can honestly say it was "my fault" they act out, misbehave, and break the rules.
That's not bragadocious, that's just a fact. Most children who act out and misbehave come from a home that lacks discipline, love, or a mixture of both.
If you want to influence your child's teacher, you must make the effort to be professional, courteous, and you can also ask the teacher if they have a certain day they like to do parent conferences on, and meet them on that day. I've always liked meeting on Thursdays, because it's almost the end of the work week. Imagine a teacher who needs improvement that has parent conferences scheduled after school every day of the week! Not encouraging!
Also, find out what your child "likes" about their new teacher and praise the teacher for these strengths. Nobody is perfect. So don't expect your child's teacher to be perfect either. But do expect the best, and do the little things like give the teacher a gift at the holidays, and don't set a limit on that gift either, I once had a teacher give me $500 in a Christmas Card, writing that they just appreciated all I had done for their son. Don't limit gifts to your child's teacher, this is one of the most important persons in their little lives.
Also, get the opinions of other parents. Find out how their children are doing. If you interview some other parents and find out 90% of them are giving their stamp of approval on this teacher, you can probably be sure that you have made a false judgement on this teacher, and that you need to focus on the few issues you have with the teacher, and not the overall program or focus.
Above all, as the Bible states, "Speak the Truth in Love" to a teacher you have concerns with, and make sure you address concerns in the proper forum, such as a parent conference, at the end. Do not barge into the classroom like you own it, and do not interrupt instruction to get your questions answered, you are only giving yourself a negative reputation with the teacher, students, and staff members.
Lastly, let's talk about the 1%. If you do have a teacher that you feel is constantly crossing the line in terms of their behavior, go through the due process at your particular school. Go straight to the district office and file a complaint, stating that you wish to have this placed in the employees file. Make an appointment with the superintendent, and lastly, hire an attorney to have your child removed from the classroom. But don't go out there and sue the school district for $10,000,000 dollars like some parents due because of supposed "verbal abuse" on their child. Just like we teachers have to let the consequences fit the crime, keep that in mind when facing a truly horrible teacher as well. If that teacher gets fired they will probably get the message. If they also get sued for millions, they have just learned that all people are greedy, and especially you.
Above all, remember the words of Christ, "Do unto others as you would have them do to you" and you'll find favor with your child's teacher. Unbelievable favor that will improve your veteran teachers and favor to have those removed who are incompetent as well.