It can be difficult after a long break or a relaxing weekend to jump back into the swing of things in general, but especially in the classroom. I took a little bit of a break from writing articles while I was finishing up my latest project, So, You Need to Learn English… (more on that later), and I’m finding it hard to get back into a teaching/writing mindset myself!
When facing your classroom after a break or maybe facing them for the first time, it’s tricky to figure out where to start, what to teach, and how to support your students well. So, today we’re going to be talking about some tips and tricks for refocusing and jumping back into the classroom routine!
I will forever and always recommend reusable routines for beginner-level ESL, advanced-level ESL, and everything in between. When studying for my bachelor’s degree in TESOL, I remember specifically spending time discussing how to give directions. At the time, I didn’t quite understand it, but once I stepped inside of a classroom, it all clicked.
It can be really hard to understand directions in a second language, and it can be really hard to explain directions to students whose English is still at the beginner-level. A lot of classroom time is wasted on complex directions, which is one of the reasons why reusable routines are perfect.
Reusable routines are simple activities that can be used for a variety of different topics, skills, and lesson plans. While the content of the activity may change, the directions and execution stays the same. While using these activities, students can speak more confidently because they know what to expect and how to do the activity!
Most of the free lesson plans in our Free Resource Library and almost every lesson plan in So, You Need to Learn English… utilizes reusable routines. Not only do they make it easier for your students, but they help to cut down on planning time, save time in the classroom, and so much more! If you’re looking for more information and a few suggestions so that you can start using reusable routines in your classroom, click on the button below!
Focus on the Break
I’ve had a few teachers reach out to me about how to come back after the Summer break or a week or two holiday break. While it can be tricky to reply with a blanket statement for every class, there are a few tricks that I like to use when walking back into the classroom for the first time in a while.
Start your class off by discussing the break. Ask your students what they did over break, what English they encountered, where they struggled, and where they succeeded. There are plenty of activities that you can use to help your students share their experiences in English and listen to their peers’ experiences.
You could also debrief the break. If you were on break for a holiday, discuss the holiday. While many teachers choose to do this before break, so that students know what to expect, it’s equally as helpful to do so after the break. Teach your students about what they saw and experienced (especially in ESL settings, as opposed to EFL).
Look for Inspiration
With countless resources at our fingertips, as teachers, on the internet, this point hardly even needs to be discussed. However, inspiration and direction for teachers is vast and (almost) limitless. Pinterest is an incredible resource!
If you’re not sure where to begin, do something fun! Find some fun new games, an interesting discussion activity, or a topic you haven’t explored yet and try them out. Spend your first class back getting to know your students better and playing a few games. At the end of class, debrief. Find out which activities your students enjoyed most, what they’d like to learn over the next couple of weeks, and how you can best serve them.
There are a ton of lesson plans available on websites like Teachers Pay Teachers, that are a great way for you to come back after a break. Spend a lesson learning about Martin Luther King Jr. or another figure that doesn’t necessarily fit into your normal lesson plan line up.
If you’re working with beginner-level or intermediate-level learners, there are a few free lesson plans on our Free Resource Library, and, if you haven’t heard, Everyday ESL just launched another resource for beginner-level adult ESL teachers!
So, You Need to Learn English… is an incredible (90+ page) resource designed specifically for the beginner-level adult ESL classroom. It can be difficult to find resources that are designed for adult learners. While there are plenty of activity ideas on Pinterest, and even a few free worksheets, it takes a little more digging to find an easy-to-use complete lesson plan for the adult classroom.
With 7 lesson plans and 20 accompanying worksheets, So, You Need to Learn English… is a great way to come back after a break prepared! Each lesson contains at least 7 activities to help your students practice speaking and listening in a discussion-based classroom. Don’t have a ton of time? Don’t worry! Every lesson is low-prep, so that you can easily prepare and adjust for your students.
Don’t miss out! Click on the button below to purchase your own copy of So, You Need to Learn English…!
Teach Yourself First
One of the best ways to realign your mindset in the classroom is to focus on your own learning. Instead of jumping right into lesson planning and finding ways to help your students learn, spend some time learning more about ESL, different activities, strategies for growth, and whatever interests you in the classroom.
I’ve developed a bad habit over the years of only picking up my ESL books to look for something specific. Sometimes I’m looking for a new game, trying to find out how to explain a grammar concept, or researching the best strategy to use to structure a listening activity. While there are definitely times to look something up in a book, it’s incredibly helpful to just learn for the sake of learning. The information will, more than likely, come in handy later on.
So, I encourage you, before you focus on your students’ learning, focus on your own. Start reading a book about ESL front-to-back, not as a resource, but as a book! It’s a great way to get back into a teaching mindset, find new ideas for your classroom, and make sure you’re well-prepared when your students walk through those doors!
If you’re struggling to come back from a break, whether it be Summer, holiday, or simply a weekend, it will get easier again! Finding your rhythm takes time, but recovering your ‘Why’ is a great way to remind yourself of the reasons you teach! Look back on why you began, what some of your greatest highlights have been over the years, and the biggest struggles you’ve overcome, then it’s time to jump back into it!
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What are your favorite ESL books to help you learn and grow?
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