How do you actually start a language class? This is a subject that I could write a whole book about, not only a post. Why? Because the start of the lesson will determine how the rest of the class will go. Here are four steps that I find useful:
Enter the classroom with a smile, regardless of what you are leaving behind the class door. Remember you are a professional – you must learn (a bit like an actor that enters the stage) to forget about your personal feelings for the duration of the class. You are there to do your job the best you can – you owe it to those kids (this is what I tell myself on a bad day).
Breathe in and out, drop your shoulders, put a smile on your face and go in. And if you are having a great day – fabulous! Just pass it on!
Have a routine.
Kids thrive on routine, and those with super energy or who are shy absolutely need it! When you enter the classroom make them aware you are there, ready for them, with a smile, with a wave, with a hug, with “hello” from the door.
I sometimes start singing as I enter the room, letting the kids know I am there. 2-3 year olds will take a while to make circle. You can help them by joining their hands and guiding them to the circle, slowly and gently.
Once you are in the circle you can sing a welcome song and sit down. Older children will be fine with a simple instruction “Please sit down on the carpet”. You can chant or sing “Everybody sit down, sit, down, sit dow, everybody sit down just like me!”.
Once on the carpet greet every child by name. It is important that you ask them individually how they are – it will give you an opportunity to watch the group to establish what mood the children are in. Are they super energetic and need an exercise to focus they attention? Pass a ball in the circle in complete silence. Play Chinese Whispers. Are they sleepy and tired and need a little “wake me up” activity? Sing a funny song, pull faces, move about. Are they focused and ready to go? Fab!
Whatever they need do it first, get your group ready. There is absolutely no point in starting a lesson when your students are not there with you, so take those 3 minutes to get them ready, it’s worth it!
When you get their attention you can start. How to continue will be the subject of my next post.