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It’s almost that time again: the beginning of the school year! So while you dust off those books and get back into the swing of things, here’s a reminder list of must have items for your TEFL classroom. Keep reading to learn our ultimate list of TEFL essentials!
Unless you’re still using a chalkboard (in which case you can change this to chalk), chances are that you’ve got a whiteboard in your classroom. Chances also are that amid all your prep for your awesome lesson, you’ll forget to bring something to write with. Having back up markers in your bag is an absolute MUST!
Someone always forgets their notebook or textbook and needs something to write on. Rather than having them just look at their partner’s work, give them their own piece of paper. This way they can take ownership of their work. And if your lesson timing is off and you need a filler, that extra paper can be used in so many different ways.
These little guys come in surprisingly handy for lots of things besides their obvious use. If I do a writing lesson, these are essential. They help me keep all my students’ papers organized as I mark them. There’s nothing worse than losing someone’s writing assignment! You can also use paper clips for board game pieces, counting tools, or even as a visual representation of a grammar or vocabulary point. I never seem to have enough of these!!
A lot of schools will have a big heavy tape dispenser for all the teachers to share in the teacher’s room. But what use is that in your classroom? When you want to hang your students’ work around the room or put images up on the whiteboard, you need something quick and easy. In comes the roll of scotch tape or masking tape that hangs out in your bag. On a side note, this also comes in super handy when there’s an accident and someone’s paper or project gets ripped. Teachers must always be prepared!
Similarly to whiteboard markers, you can never have too many writing utensils for the classroom. Students often lose or forget to bring a pen or pencil to class. This can cause issues with the flow of the lesson. Therefore, make a habit of keeping extra pens and pencils with you, especially on days when there is a writing lesson scheduled. This simple practice will save you a lot of time and energy when it comes to your classroom management.
Now I know what you’re thinking – Why would you actually promote using your phone during class? Don’t you want to discourage your students from using their technology during lessons?
Well, yes and no.
Today, we have so much available at our fingertips via smartphone technology, it’s impossible to avoid and almost embarrassing to not take advantage of. Yes, in the past we would have taught our students how to search for terms in a printed dictionary or how to find synonyms in a printed thesaurus. But now we have apps at our disposal which can enhance one’s language study if used properly. So why not teach our students using the tools they already have access to? Another great thing about smartphone use within the class? Photos. Real, authentic photos from students’ everyday lives. How many times do we reference our families, vacations, hobbies, or lifestyles during a language class? (FYI – The answer is A LOT!!!) So why not allow ourselves as teachers and our students the opportunity to authentically share with each other photos that represent those aspects of their lives? Smartphone use during class, if monitored and managed properly, can add to your lessons.
The teacher bag is an essential classroom item. What goes in a teacher bag? Well…anything that you personally need to feel comfortable in the classroom. Yes, you should keep your books and lesson plans in there. But you should also keep toiletry items like tissues, hand sanitizer, lip balm, and breath mints. If your classroom can get cold, throw a scarf or a sweater in that bag. And if you struggle with being “hangry” at times…put a few granola bars in there too! There are days as a teacher when you will be on your feet for hours upon hours and hardly have time to run to the restroom. Keeping items handy that allow you to feel comfortable is essential to your health and happiness in this profession long term.
Lesson plans. Never leave home without them. In all seriousness, lesson plans are pretty darn important. They act as a game plan, a strategy, and a goal tracking device for us teachers. So, if you are ever tempted to skip this step in your preparation, remember that lesson plans are a must. You need one for every lesson, no exceptions. As the old adage says “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” So keep those lesson plans with you!
Schools track attendance in different ways. Therefore you cannot always plan for how you will handle attendance as a new teacher until you actually go through your orientation process. However, the act of tracking attendance is a constant in this profession. And being prepared with the tools necessary to do the tracking is crucial to your success. Make sure to bring your attendance tools with you to every lesson and be consistent in marking your students’ progress. It will save you a lot of headaches at the end of term!
One of the most challenging skills for a new teacher to develop is the art of timing their lesson perfectly. It sounds simple, right? Follow your lesson plan and you’re done. Well, if you’re like most of us, it doesn’t quite happen like that. One assignment takes half the time you alloted for it. Another one gets derailed mid-way through and you have to spend time reigning everyone back in. As you get your sea legs as a new teacher, make sure to track you timing. Keep your watch or phone handy and actually mark on your lesson plans when things go differently to how you planned them. That way, you’ll do better the next time around. Also, make sure your watch or phone has a timer. Timed activities are common in the EFL classroom, so it’s a good idea to be prepared!
Never underestimate the power of a small squishy ball in the TEFL classroom. Name games. Vocabulary games. Grammar exercises. You name it. That one single item can do it all. So next time you’re stepping into the classroom, keep a ball handy and your students will surely appreciate the change of pace it brings!
Art supplies are a staple for any teacher. Whether you are instructing children at an elementary school or adults in a language institute – everybody likes to color and express themselves creatively. Some examples of using art in the classroom include:
These are just a few ideas, but you get the point – art can open the door for communication in the classroom!
You’ve heard us speak about the importance of creative expression in the classroom. Well photos fit right into that category. Photos are a great aid to visual learners. They can help put new vocabulary into context. Photos help the teacher tell a story. And images can even be used as prompts for students in activities like role-plays or guessing games. If your school doesn’t have a selection of photos, consider printing some out at the local copy shop. Better yet, laminate them and share them with your colleagues. The more photos the better!
Dice are great tools in the EFL classroom. Similar to having a ball handy, these guys can be very versatile while taking up minimal space in your teacher bag. Want to play a game with your class? Dice. Need a way to choose teams? Dice. Learning numbers? Dice. Keep items like dice handy, and you’ll have a growing EFL toolkit at the ready!
I know…I know…A CD player?! Really? With all the technology of today? Well the point of this post is that you will absolutely need some way of playing audio tracks in your classroom for Listening lessons. And yes, sometimes that means going old school. Listening lessons play such a vital role in the development of a students’ English abilities. So make sure before you step foot into a new school and classroom that you have access to an audio device of some type.
TVs come in really handy in the TEFL classroom. They can be used for video lessons produced by the textbook company. The teacher can use a TV to play clips they find online or on YouTube. They can even be used to show documents or images if it’s a Smart TV. Providing a variety of ways for students to consume material is a wise choice considering the variety of learning preferences that exist. Making sure that you will have access to a TV (at least occasionally) at your school is something to consider.