Atmosphere in small adult classes

Teaching ESL to adults

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Atmosphere in small adult classes

Unread post by jamesewilcox »

Hello to everyone on the forum!

Just a question that's been bugging me today. I was observed earlier, and my feedback was all good, apart from that relating to 'atmosphere'.

I teach adults in Shanghai, often in very small classes of 1 to 4 students, in addition to a few larger classes. I have two and a half years experience now, but most of my previous experience was teaching children.

Anyway... I was observed teaching just one other student today, and afterwards the observer said I came across as a little cold and too much like 'an Oxford professor'. This is the third time I've had feedback criticising the atmosphere in these small classes. Another time a teacher said I needed to treat students more as customers and not students, but I find it quite hard to get my head around that one. I tried really hard to engage with the student, laugh, smile, make eye contact, and ask interested questions about their life, but they still seemed quite nervous throughout the whole lesson, something I've noticed about a few of my students.

I really would welcome some ideas about where I might be going wrong, and what I can do to improve the atmosphere in the class. I wonder whether this might be a hangover from teaching kids, a cultural issue (I'm the only British teacher in the school) or an age issue (I'm 24 and most of my students are older). Or something else?

Any help would be most appreciated!

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Re: Atmosphere in small adult classes

Unread post by Susan »

I'd ask the observer who made the comments to give you some tips. The comment sounds a bit vague; "Oxford professor" won't help you develop professionally (especially as I think China is a hierarchical society). Tell the observer, in the nicest possible way, that you would like to improve and ask for specific examples of what was not right and how it can be improved. You could also ask to observe a teacher who gets the atmosphere right; maybe you could watch the observer teaching.
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Re: Atmosphere in small adult classes

Unread post by MarkTeacher »

Could be cultural definately. My best advice is that you should be yourself... don't try to be anyone else.
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