Considering the work of Dörnyei and Csizér about the Key Areas in which the teacher can influence lernears’motivation, these are my contributions in four I found fundamental for teaching secondary:
1) The teacher
People learn by observing others (Bandura). A teacher always is a model to be followed, however sometimes in the wrong way.
A thing to keep in mind has to do with the hidden curriculum; the teacher and the school organization give away a lot in this matter. Sometimes we show a face of discontent or cynicism that is very powerful to the people who don’t understand the reasons of our behavior so, they speculate and can also make erroneous judges and “label” us (the rebel, the critic, the bitter, the clown)…
If we are kind, active, smiley, challenging and funny just because we are like that it’s great, those qualities can really make us be very popular with our students and surely they will like to join our classes anytime.
2) The classroom atmosphere
To me in these days, the point of the moment is to create a “safe space” free of aggression and cruel jokes that can guarantee a free stress environment for teaching. We are living the ages of bullying, and the times of frustration also. So, a good place must be clean, ordered, with a few noise and with our best attitudes all the time (Asher and the reduction of stress) and we must have the knowledge and skills to detect when hostilities show up and reduce them then first and then eradicate them.
3) The task
The advices these scholars state are real important and sometimes not considered seriously. To know how to give instructions clearly is a trained skill! An advice to improve this is this:
- Record on film any class you teach, then, analyze the way you explain the activities to do. You can be surprised how unclear you can be at times!
Of course, clarifying what is the usefulness of every task can increase the interest in the topic.
Considered as the quality of the relation between teacher and pupils, the more respectful and communicative the better.
In this area I had some peculiar problems when I was teaching secondary level. Some immature and neurotic students (generally female children of an overprotective mother) used to complain about me saying I have “favorite” students, the chosen ones. The funny thing in this was that those students referred as my “close” ones belonged to any of this category:
- Siblings of a student I shared time with (computer games, trips to the hill, music sharing) but not with my new “new favorite”.
- Students who were very polite to me and held me in high regard (so, my reaction was reciprocal in any occasion I was flattered).
- The “supposed to be” queen beauties, no matter to me beauty has no schemes and the non-hegemonic treats are the aesthetic I could admire.
In these cases, a girl student complained about me at her mother and the woman was in total agreement with her no matter we never met before (she already knew “everything” about me). So, as I already said, in these exceptional cases a psychopathy was evident to me.
One thing to make clear since the first day of classes is that everybody can make mistakes. This condition depends on the way we feel on any day (stress, tiredness, distraction). The teacher must accept them in them and in the others. Time to time they appear and it’s better to take them in a relaxed and friendly way, and correct one selves kindly.
Another thing that was more amazing to my pupils was that there were some fields I did not know neither in my own tongue so, in English less.
I was working in a rural area so “barbechar” and “milo” were totally out of my conception (fallowing and sorghum). Names of flowers I know a very few and kitchen terms are also out of my scenery. Scrunchie was the word a girl told me it was the “donita para el cabello” so common in those days! So, I found out those terms and gradually integrated to my vocabulary repertoire.
In the secondary level English is planned to be taught thrice a week for times that vary from 35 to 50 minutes. The days are not precisely distributed so we can have classes in consecutive days. Speaking about culture is a way to calm and relax students but I would not dare to say motivate them. I seldom did that when I needed to cool them down (after a long break, after a “puente” or on an uncommon day of labor. There is no much time and we are asked to work mainly on functions.
I hope these experiences help you a little in your future.