7 Habits for New Teachers

new esl teachers Apr 28, 2017

This week`s blog post looks at forming good "teacher habits" as I prepare to teach two online courses in a TESL Training program.

Did you know that on average, it takes more than 2 months before a new behaviour becomes automatic? This is why it is so difficult to form new habits.

There are many habits that contribute to good teaching but at the risk of overwhelming new teachers, I have prepared a short list below:

Habit 1: Preview the lesson
Tell students what they are going to learn in the lesson. I do this by writing a brief agenda on the board. I developed this habit more than 20 years ago and still do this before every single class. Research shows that the best place to write the agenda is at the top left-hand side of the board. Go through the agenda at the beginning of class and then as you reach each item, check it off.  Students like to know what they will be doing in the class and it also helps me to stay on track.

Habit 2 - Recap at the end

Let's jump to the end of class.  Quickly go through what was covered during the lesson. This is essential because students will probably only remember what you did at the end of the lesson. (Have a read of one of my blog posts - How Sticky are your lessons https://www.patricepalmer.ca/blog/how-sticky-are-your-lessons).
Habit 3 - Build on what students know
Start with the known and then introduce new concepts/material. This seems like a no-brainer but from my experience working with new teachers, many just jump right into their lesson (if you want more information on this, look up scaffolding).

Habit 4 - Get students talking

New teachers often forget that ESL students need speaking practice, not them! Get students talking in the first couple of minutes of the lesson and find opportunities for them to speak including the quiet/shy students. I asked EAP students last winter how many minutes they speak English in a given day and the response was shocking - anywhere from just a few minutes to a few hours for those with part-time jobs.  Specific techniques would make for a good blog post.    

Habit 5 - Elicit first
Again, many new teachers have the habit of telling students instead of eliciting first.  So before giving the answer or telling students, ask first!  (This also helps them to focus and practice their listening skills).  You might be surprised how much students actually know!  Elicit, elicit, elicit!

Habit 6 - Keep a record
Write down what went well or what you should change in the future if you use the lesson plan again.  Sometimes small tweaks can make a big difference.
Habit 7 - New language

Make sure your students go away with some new language. Before I plan my lesson, I always ask myself "What can I offer my students that they can't get by studying English on their own?"  If you can't answer this question, then find a way to make attending your lesson meaningful for all of your language learners.

Let me know if you have any other habits that you would add to this list.  

Additional Resources: 

Duhigg, C. (2012). The Power of Habit.  Doubleday Canada.

Lally, P., Potts, H., Wardle, J. (2009). How are habits formed: Modelling habit formation in the real world http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/ejsp.674/abstract


Happy Teaching!  Patrice


Online Resources Library

Future Learn

Looking for some free PD or interested in learning about management, the arts, law, history, literature, science or health? Future Learn https://www.futurelearn.com offers hundreds of free courses in a variety of categories including a free course by the British Council https://www.futurelearn.com/courses/becoming-a-better-teacher


Want to teach with TEDTalks?  Sapna Sehgal has developed a wonderful resource that includes 25 lessons based on TEDTalk http://courses.teachingcove.com/?affcode=91807_vcfgsnff   If you would like a free sample of the full first TED Talk Lesson Plan and introduction, go https://www.teachingcove.com/printables-library/ (April 2017 section).


About Me

My name is Patrice Palmer, OCELT, M.Ed., M.A. I have more than 20 years’ experience as an ESL Teacher, TESL Trainer, and Curriculum Writer in Canada including 7 amazing years in Hong Kong. I have taught students from 8 to 80 years in a variety of programs such as ESP, EAP, Business English, and language programs for new immigrants in Canada. I now work as a teacherpreneur doing the things that I love such as writing courses and books, blogging, sharing teaching materials, and providing instructional coaching to new teachers http://www.teacherpreneur.ca. Having a flexible schedule allows me to conduct short-term training around the world at any time of the year. For more teaching resources, please visit my website at http://www.patricepalmer.ca
Copyright © 2016 Patrice Palmer, Global Training, Coaching and Development. 

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