Great classroom assertiveness is not something many of us are naturally gifted with. When I embarked on my CELTA course, standing in front of a classroom full of people scared me and made my voice shaky. By the end of the course, things looked completely different and I was praised by my tutors on the big change in my presence in the classroom. So how did I change from a jittering mess to a confident person, capable of running a successful, orderly lesson?
Being assertive in the classroom is just one important aspect of being a successful teacher. (These simple teaching tips are pretty helpful, too.)
A Change in Attitude
The biggest change in developing my classroom assertiveness came after my third practical lesson. I had real trouble asking my students to stop and move on to the next task and I was internally panicking that I would not be able to follow my lesson plan all the way through. The lesson felt like an ordeal and I felt bad for my students having to experience it. I needed to do something about how my lessons made me feel in order to become more assertive in the classroom and run better lessons. I thought, ‘what is the point of all this worry when it certainly doesn’t make my lessons any better’. I reasoned if I am more relaxed in the classroom, I will enjoy my lessons more and then perhaps so will my students. My fourth practical lesson went much better as a result.
A great tip to bring some fun into your classroom is to play some games. Yes, adults enjoy them too!
Fake It Until You Make It
Once I changed my attitude to lessons into a more positive one, I could move to other issues I faced in the classroom. I did not feel at all confident when running lessons and I guess few new teachers do. This is an issue, as confidence can make you appear more competent, and that in turn can help with classroom assertiveness. My CELTA tutor came to the rescue. Her advice was to use some acting skills if I do not feel confident, and to pretend I am. The confidence-competence act, of course, needs to be based on good preparation for the lesson. Next lesson I put on an act and funnily enough pretending to be confident made me feel more confident.
Classroom Assertiveness is a Good Thing
Another thing stopping me from becoming assertive in the classroom was that I equated assertiveness with bossiness. I didn’t want to be bossy, I wanted my students to like me. It emerged in one of our CELTA feedback sessions that I wasn’t alone in thinking that way. We discussed this issue and concluded that classroom assertiveness is not something negative and can be beneficial for students. It’s possible to be polite and friendly and at the same time be assertive. Correcting pronunciation isn’t rude – it is vital to ensuring your student is understood in the future. There will be times when you will need to stop someone part way through what they are saying and that’s all right. Understanding that my assertiveness can help my students learn enabled me to find my voice in the classroom.
If you want more advice on knowing when to correct your students and other helpful tips try this post.
I persevered though my CELTA course, listening to the feedback I received, learning from my mistakes and making the required changes. I worked on my attitude, I projected confidence and I learnt what classroom assertiveness is really about. Use the CELTA course to your advantage. Remember that you’re there to learn, that it’s fine to make mistakes and that with some perseverance you can become a great teacher.
What are your methods for developing classroom assertiveness? What advice would you give to other new teachers? Please share your stories and advice in the comments section below or on our Facebook page.
About the Author
Aleks Kaye loves cooking, skiing and learning. She completed a part-time CELTA course while working full-time at a university in the UK. She is currently travelling across Canada with her husband David and blogging about it at daleksabroad.travel.blog