Monday, June 29, 2009

52 Teachers, 52 Lessons #22: Teach in a Dynamic Environment

Our contributor this week is an expert in English as a Second Language. After four years teaching English Language Learners in Texas, Shelly Terrell moved on to teach children, teenagers and adults who are ELLs in Germany! She blogs at Teacher Boot Camp. Her wise advice comes in three parts:

Teach in a dynamic environment!

When students walk into my classroom, I want them to be motivated to learn. Sitting in desks that face you is boring! Create a dynamic environment full of rich sayings, learning stations, and student expression. In my high school classroom, we would sometimes go outside for lessons or sit on pillows on the floor for discussions. Students learn in different ways! Moreover, environment impacts mood and behavior. I now set my classroom up for cooperative learning and to cater to different learning styles. The workforce is dynamic and students will have to be prepared to work in a variety of settings. Students will probably never work in an environment with a desk facing the boss all day!


I have taught what many would term "trouble" students. I learned quickly that getting angry only spurs the situation. What works best is allowing "cool-off time" for the student and teacher. If you have stations set-up, the student can find some alone time. When you feel the student has calmed down, then speak with the student in an area away from the other students. Find out what is the real problem behind the outburst. Most of the time you find out that your students are juggling some serious issues and your talk with them can help them more than the punishment.

Continually self-reflect!

My students offer me feedback through dialogue journals, surveys, and conversations. Critiques are opportunities for growth. Along with the criticisms are incredible heartfelt messages of what a difference I have made. Therefore, I am never afraid to hear my students' opinions. Teachers should constantly self-reflect to ensure their teaching strategies and lessons are evolving and purpose-driven.

Read more about this project here or add the 52 teachers 52 lessons tag to your favorites. Email your entries to teachforeverATgmailDOTcom. Week 23 is scheduled for next Monday, July 6th.