Pages of the Oasis

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Teaching in Saudi Arabia Survey Findings Part Two: Teaching Strategies That Work

Strategies that worked well for other teachers:

Below are a sampling of direct quotes collected anonymously, detailing what worked well for teachers last term (spring 2012).

“If you use strategies, be clear, explain them and use them for at least a fortnight. Get them to set rules, and you must police and remind them of what they agreed/ signed up to.’’

“Due to the communal nature of the student body, I've found cooperative learning to be the most effective teaching strategy in Saudi Arabia. The students are given a different seating plan/arrangement every week. While they're effective at working toward a common goal in small groups, it's imperative to keep mixing up the teams to avoid monotony/routine.’’

“I think it’s a good to be flexible. It is important to know that traditional ways of dealing with students like authoritative or parental don't work with these girls. You have to be able to balance what you want them to do for you and what they want. Don't get me wrong having them run amok in your classroom isn't right either. Balance is key.’’

“Mobile phones have to be put off and this is something that needs to be stated everyday until the girls realize that you are not going to let them use them. Group work and make sure that the groups are constantly mixed up. Competitions, group or pair work works well.’’

“Classroom organization (including seating arrangements, classroom decorations, and lesson routines) is very important. Student interest and motivation are improved by regular changes of seating, clear announcements of schedule and curriculum expectations. Regular use of group, pairs, and individual assignments also provide variety and stimulation.’’

“To not only be culturally sensitive but, personality sensitive. Never embarrass any one student in front of the entire class. When a student is late, try to find out why she is late. You will be amazed to find out what you hear.’’

“Roll with it. Give them a minute or two to settle themselves. Once you have over half, you can work on the holdouts. Discuss the situation with them the next day if you can't get them back, and explain how that behavior affects your ability to teach, theirs to learn and show them what it feels like. Ask if they treat any of their other teachers' like that?’’

“I don't think my teaching strategies have strayed too much from the usual TESOL orientated teaching style, except when syllabus material requires too much critical thinking or independent working on the student's behalf. I have found I need to consolidate understanding of the actual task set repeatedly and much more than I have ever needed to do so in the past. What has really changed is my attention to classroom management. Of all classroom activities, this can take up to 30% of the time allocated. What has also made a difference is the range of subjects I can talk about. It is difficult to teach students to think critically and become involved in discussion, when the best topics for forming an opinion or challenging an intellectual conversation are banned and all you are left with is a discourse in shopping, eating, and my family. Always reward correct and well thought out answers - they love this. Though not always possible, I try to put the responsibility on the students for their learning, classroom management and even delivery of lessons (the latter especially in review week).’’

“My teaching strategies are based on CELTA & they do work here. Setting context, working through stages, all class exposition of grammar, group work, paired work, individual work. Controlled practice, semi controlled practice, free practice.’’
“The students often get rowdy toward the end of the day or if they've been doing lots of book activities. Rather than shout over them, I think it's often best to just sit them out. They'll quiet down on their own.’’

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