Archive for Tag: classroom management

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Three Things I Like about my Teacher

Tamara Jones is an ESL Instructor at Howard Community College, Columbia, Maryland

I really hate getting up early in the morning to exercise. When my alarm goes off, I curse my love of buttered bread and cheese and begin the (sometimes 15 minute long) process of talking myself into lurching out of bed. On Friday morning, my internal discussion is a little easier because I really like the new teacher in my early morning Total Body Workout class.

I’ve given some thought to why I like her so much. (After all lunges are so much less awful when I have something else to think about!) There are things I certainly don’t love about the class. I often don’t care for the music she chooses. She’s not the perkiest instructor I’ve ever had. The workout is hard and I absolutely loathe the cardio stuff she has us do. The gym is hot. I could go on, but I think you get the idea. So, I really had to think about exactly what it is about her that appeals to me so strongly that I don’t mind getting up on a cold Friday morning and going to the gym. In the end, it really boils down to 3 (pretty mundane) things.

1. She starts the class on time.

It’s a small thing, but, as it turns out, it makes a big difference to students like me. I’ve been going to this particular class for a few years, and in that time, we’ve had several different instructors. They all started the class on time the first few weeks, but as the students trickled in later and later, they often delayed starting the work out until a majority of the students came in.

Even though I am occasionally one of the latecomers, this really irritates me. First of all, it’s disrespectful of the students who actually made the (sometimes superhuman) effort to actually get to the class on time. Second, it shortens the length of the class time. And, third, it doesn’t encourage any of the chronic latecomers to make an effort to come to class on time.

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Monday, August 31, 2015

The Bitter End?


By Tamara Jones
ESL Instructor, Howard Community College
Columbia, Maryland

A colleague recently forwarded me an article that appeared in the Chronicle of Higher Education called Final Exams or Epic Finales . The author, Anthony Crider, describes how his dissatisfaction with the traditional “final exam” closure of a class led him to consider alternative assessments and activities for the last day of class.

Goodbye TOEFL Style

In some ways, I can relate to Crider’s frustration. I, too, have experienced the “hushed farewell” that he and his students exchange as they are turning in their final exams. In the Spring, I taught a TOEFL Prep class, and the final exam took up the entire final day of the class. So, my last exchange with students with whom I had worked all spring to develop a relationship and of whom I was so proud, wound up being a whispered, “Have a good summer. Good luck on the ‘real’ TOEFL!” as they slunk out of the exam. In truth, I did get to make a little speech about all their hard work before the exam began, but I suspect most of them were not really listening and probably just wishing I would stop blathering so they could get on with the test. As Crider says, “[t]his is not how a course should end.”

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Monday, August 27, 2012

Sorry I’m Late, But …

By Tamara Jones
EAL Instructor, British School of Brussels

I am the kind of person who is usually on time, and I will move heaven and earth to be somewhere at the time I promised. I’ve even arrived early to things, which has resulted in flustered hostesses and long waits in dentist offices. What can I say? It’s just the way I am. However, I know that not everyone is like me. There are many people, and some of them are my students, who don’t make it places on time. Some of them are simply over-committed and running 15 minutes behind everything and some of them are just chronically late. In my social life and the office part of my work life, this doesn’t really bother me. I know who will be on time and who to expect a few minutes later and I adjust my schedule accordingly.

In the classroom, though, it can be a little more difficult to manage. In a perfect world, all students would be in their seats eager to learn at the stroke of the hour. The class could begin without fear of students missing vital information or much-needed review. In reality, however, when I taught adult students, inevitably one, two or more would come late, sidling in with apologetic faces. It can be difficult enough to manage big classes of multi-level learners without students coming in in staggered blocks of time. Over the years, though, I learned some tricks to dealing with late students that helped me manage the class and (to some extent) helped students get to class on time.

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