Top 10 tips for Secondary English Teachers

2020-07-27

With numerous means of teaching English in secondary education, teachers have a wide array of tools, resources and options at their disposal.


And with no two approaches likely to be the same, English teachers will want to ensure that their lessons are fun, engaging and distinctive, while also delivering positive outcomes for their pupils.


Here we have 10 handy tips to assist secondary English teachers to achieve just that – helping to make English the lesson that every pupil looks forward to!


1. Showcase your love for the subject

An English teacher needs to show their love for their subject – after all, there’s a reason you decided to teach English, so let that positivity and passion be clear in your teaching.


This encourages your pupils to have a greater love of English as a result, which should increase the likelihood of them achieving better learning outcomes.


2. Recognise that English is complex

English is one of the most complex languages and that should be celebrated, rather than being viewed as a potential pitfall.


Much like in the sciences, pupils in English classes should be encouraged to be creative with their writing and to test new approaches to boost their learning, without the fear of failure.


3. Make sure lessons are constantly different

English is a powerful language for developing the imagination, so an English teacher should give careful consideration to how texts will make students think and feel.


You may want to use games and other activities to bring the texts to life to create excitement in the classroom, and while lessons will require a degree of structure, try to avoid using the same template for each one as engagement can stagnate.


4. Give clear instructions for all tasks

Regardless of the size of the task, all pupils must have a clear understanding of what to do, meaning any English teacher will need to ensure that their instructions are clear.


This can be done by questioning pupils understanding, by giving them adequate time to digest the information you have just given them, and by progressively working through any new topics or methods of learning.


5. Talk through the processes

Demonstrate any main points by talking them through with the class – this should enforce understanding and highlight any elements that pupils do not understand.


This modelling is particularly beneficial in secondary education as pupils may have little knowledge of how to adequately structure analytical answers, so they can apply the processes they have learnt when the time comes to face exams.


6. Look to discussion and debate

An English teacher should look to foster an environment where all pupils are prepared to question what they are reading and to ask if they are unsure of anything.


This not only helps to enforce understanding among pupils, but it also allows for the spread of ideas and new ways of thinking. 


7. Put the focus on words!

An English teacher should look to instil a way of thinking whereby a pupil places great value on every word on the page – if they are in the mind-set that every word should add something to the argument, they are more likely to write in a concise and well-thought-out way.


This can also help pupils to develop their vocabulary, benefiting both their English writing and their ability to discuss other subjects and topics.


8. Use colour coded methods of learning

Regardless of whether it’s an open book exam or purely just for revision purposes, using colour coding can help pupils to understand the works they are studying.


Coloured post-it notes which relate to key themes can enable them to find key passages while helping to solidify their knowledge.


9. Encourage additional reading

There are limits on the amount of analysis and class reading that can be done in lesson times, so pupils should be invigorated to explore certain reading and writing styles in their own time.


In addition to the main English texts found in the curriculum, pupils should be encouraged to look at similar works which challenge them to develop their English skills – if you can showcase the benefits of such actions during lessons, pupils are more likely to follow suit.


10. Remember that practice makes perfect

When it comes to writing, practice makes perfect for pupils, so an English teacher should provide plenty of lesson time for them to hone their skills.


Provide simple, constructive feedback as much as possible and make sure that a pupil understands the fundamental methodology behind it, as this will enable them to gradually improve over time.


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