Is Something Missing?

by Helene J. Uchida

Teachers often question what they can do to better ensure the success of their students. One of the most important factors in determining the success of our students and the quality of our lessons is the overall environment of the classroom and school. The following are six areas in which we can focus our efforts to fostering the success of our students.

Physical safety. Is the room arranged in such a way that students will not suffer any bodily harm? For younger students this means pointed table corners are not in a strategic position, kerosene heaters (with kettles filled with water) are away from the class traffic flow. For older students it means the room feels safe and comfortable.

Emotional security. Does each student feel that you are not a threat to him/her, that you are supportive and understanding, that you will not shame the student in front of others? (A good rule of thumb is to praise in front of others, and when constructive criticism is necessary, to do it in private.)

Sense of identity. Does each student feel strongly about being in YOUR class or your school? Does the student identify with you and what you stand for? Does he/she feel attached to you?

Sense of affiliation. Does the student feel that he/she is a part of your group, proud to be your student, a member of your school? Do family members also feel this way?

Sense of confidence. Does the study of English in your class build confidence in the student? Do you find good things in your students and let them know you recognize them? Do you use English as a catalyst to trigger confidence?

Sense of mission/direction. Does the student see the bigger picture of studying English? Each student should feel that studying English in your class with YOU can expand the scope of his/her experiences; in essence, there is meaning and a message to your subject matter. And by being able to understand English, he/she will be able to communicate with, understand and enjoy people from all over the world.

These concepts (not the teaching interpretation of them) were discussed on an episode of the Oprah Winfrey Show in the U.S. We do not know who the original author is.