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Teaching in America – Part 5: Traits of Successful Language Teachers STARTALK Guest Teacher Summer Institute July 24-25, 2012


It’s Your Turn What makes teachers successful in China? • Working with your small group, quickly brainstorm and write down your ideas about the skills and personality traits of an outstanding language educator you know in China. Be prepared to share what you wrote down.


The most successful teachers in the United States‌. • set high expectations for their students and believe that all of them are capable of attaining those goals and being successful in their classes.


The most successful teachers in the United States‌. • set extremely high expectations for themselves and then work hard to improve their teaching skills by engaging in training and high quality professional development to enable them to meet and exceed those expectations.


The most successful teachers in the United States.… • take the time to get to know their students’ interests outside of school and incorporate those interests into their lessons on a daily basis. • interact with their students outside of the formal classroom setting.


The most successful teachers in the United States.‌ • do not rely on teacher-focused classrooms (lecture); instead, they plan studentcentered lessons where the students direct their own learning and the teacher acts as the class facilitator.


The most successful teachers in the United States.… • differentiate instruction to meet individual students’ needs in a challenging way; and • plan instruction that has “real life” meaning and applications;


The most successful teachers in the United States…. • refer to their state’s Academic Content Standards and/or the National Standards when planning instruction and assessment.


The most successful teachers in the United States‌. • use a wide variety of teaching techniques and learning strategies to ensure that their classes are challenging and fun all at the same time.


The most successful teachers in the United States…. • test what they teach in the way that they teach it; • assess their students frequently through formative and summative means; and • provide constant, high-quality feedback to their students.


The most successful teachers in the United States.… • know that success in the classroom requires extensive planning and preparation outside the classroom; and • are willing to put in the extra time necessary to plan and execute quality instruction.


The most successful teachers in the United States…. • use the principles of backward design to…


The most successful teachers in the United States…. • know that well-written lesson plans are essential for success in the classroom. • use well-written lesson plans ensure that a good sequence of instruction, hands-on activities, and assessment is delivered during a unit of study. • understand that most schools require teachers to develop and use written lessons plans. • turn in their lesson plans in advance for approval. • know to provide an observing administrator or mentor teacher with a copy of the lesson plan for that class. • develop emergency lesson plans for use by a substitute teacher for times when they might be absent unexpectedly.


The most successful teachers in the United States.… • incorporate different technologies into their lessons as often as they can when it fits well with what they are doing; and • use technology to make authentic learning materials readily available to their students.


The most successful teachers in the United States.‌ • collaborate extensively with their other colleagues - often in teams - to reinforce the content taught in other classes (like math or science) by making connections to that content in their own classes.


The most successful teachers in the United States.… • observe other teachers in order to get ideas and make improvements in one’s own teaching.


The most successful teachers in the United States.… • build strong relationships with their students’ parents, providing them with frequent updates via e-mail, phone calls and conferencing; and • alert parents at the first signs that their child is experiencing academic or behavioral difficulty.


The most successful teachers in the United States…. • develop classroom rules and consequences for misbehavior in accordance with their school’s behavioral policy; • are prepared to apply those rules and consequences beginning on the first day of school; • are consistent, impartial, and fair in the way they manage their classes (no favoritism!); and • never hit, physically intimidate, punish, belittle or humiliate their students.


Important Tips • Know who to go to if you have a question, need assistance or have a problem. – If your mentor is absent or unavailable (depending on the nature of the problem), who do you ask for help with: • Questions related to language teaching? • Repeated discipline/behavior problems with a student? • Issues with a student’s class schedule, if you suspect a student is being abused, or if a problem is related to a student’s mental health, learning disability/IEP, or a student’s personal well-being? • A student heath-related issue? • A serious discipline or safety issue? • Problems related to classroom technology? • Identifying or securing supplemental print or online info or resources? • Logistical issue, material needs, or general questions pertaining to the overall operation of the school? • An issue with the cleanliness of your teaching space, if equipment is broken or not functioning or if there is a problem regulating the temperature in your classroom?


Important Tips • Be prepared to have many visitors and observers in your classroom in the U.S.


Important Tips • Avoid being alone with students to prevent them from accusing you of doing something inappropriate.


Important Tips • Remember that in the U.S., teachers are considered to be equals and frequently work together as teammates.


Important Tips • Communicate frequently with parents. Be sure to share positive news as well as negative news.


Important Tips • Be prepared to do your own administrative work.


Important Tips

• Avoid making comparisons between your employment and living situation and that of other guest teachers. To do so is considered to be extremely unprofessional.


Continuing Support For New Teachers 1. A “new teacher orientation” will be offered by the guest teacher’s school, district and/or state. 2. All new GTs will be assigned a “mentor teacher” – an experienced teacher who can answer questions, show how to do things and assist with questions about planning, teaching and grading throughout the year. This is a state and College Board requirement. 3. Periodic “professional development ” opportunities will exist to help new GTs with instruction, assessment, technology, grading, procedures, planning, classroom management and other topics (e.g., local, state and national workshops, webinars and conferences).


Support For New Teachers 4. New GTs might become part of a language department or an academic team. Colleagues will provide assistance and advice. Professional collaboration is expected.

5. New GTs are encouraged to attend a local board of education meeting in his/her district to observe how the school district is run. As a courtesy, the visiting teacher might consider speaking before the board in order to introduce him/herself, tell a little bit about his/her education and background, and share the reason why securing a teaching position in the U.S. was appealing. Later in the year, the teacher might ask his/her students to perform for the board.


Support For New Teachers 6. Districts will often try to connect the visiting teacher with a “cultural mentor� – someone who can explain cultural events and advise him/her regarding school and social events and customs. 7. A principal or supervisor will likely observe the visiting teacher periodically to evaluate his/her performance as a teacher. 8. World language consultants at the state or district level can also be of help when other sources of assistance are not available. 9. Online Web-based resources (e.g., Chinese teacher organizations, materials, authentic resources, cultural info)


The Importance of Collaborating with Colleagues • Teachers should never work in isolation; all teachers are part of a larger team!


Collaboration: Tips for Working with Colleagues In Another Country 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8.

Ask people to explain things slowly and in simple terms. If you don’t understand something…ask! If you are dissatisfied with a situation, don’t hesitate to say something. Don’t allow the situation to worsen! Become involved in school & community activities. Make an extra effort to observe others teaching / be observed frequently, especially at the beginning of the school year. Be patient with communicating in English; it always takes a few weeks to adjust to new terms, slang, accents, etc. Put yourself in the other person’s shoes and try to see the situation from his/her cultural perspective. Remember that success is dependent on team-work!


What Do Think the Proper Etiquette for Observing Other Teachers Might Be in the U.S.? • Sit in the back of the classroom so that you are not the focus of the students’ attention. • Do not talk or draw attention to yourself when observing other teachers. • Do not interrupt the teacher to ask questions. • Save questions about your observations until after the class is over and the teacher is free to talk to you. • Write down your observations, especially things you think you would like to try and things that you didn’t understand. • Always pay attention to how the teacher is managing both the time and the behavior of the students.


Review Questions  What languages are most frequently taught in the U.S.?  What types of foreign language programs are common in the U.S.?  What teaching materials will be available in the U.S.?  What organizations might provide you with information and resources about language teaching in America?  What are some traits of highly effective teachers in America?  Why is collaborating with other teachers important?  What should / shouldn’t you do when observing another teacher?


- BREAK Please return promptly in 15 minutes. Xie xie!


Teaching in America - Part 5_Wertz