Published 29th December 2015

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Everyone remembers the different types of teachers which they had at school; the stern one, the relaxed one, the crazy one …. And every potential TEFL teacher worries about how they should act in the classroom and what type of teacher they should be.

However, if you want to be the best teacher that you can possibly be, then it’s fruitless to try and manipulate yourself into a caricature of what you think a good teacher, or indeed any teacher should act like. In fact there are many types of great successful teachers working out there in the world of ESL and one type of instructor isn’t necessarily better than another.

A good start is to understand and evaluate what type of person you are naturally and then play to your strengths. You can’t manipulate yourself to be somebody artificial in the classroom; it will create stress and make you and your students feel uncomfortable.

If by nature you are more of a relaxed and chatty individual, then don’t feel like you have to morph yourself into an authoritarian figure to gain control and respect. Likewise, if your natural disposition is more composed and collected don’t think your lessons can’t be fun the way you are. You don’t have to be cracking jokes every second for your students to enjoy being in the classroom with you.

This isn’t to say that sometimes that you don’t have to act in a manner which is outside your comfort zone.  One might not find it particularly pleasant to discipline a student, but if they’re being disruptive to the others who are trying to learn then ultimately you don’t have a choice, after all classroom management is one part of being a ESL teacher.

Your personality doesn’t just influence your role but also the activities that you do in the classroom. In short, it’s always a great idea to teach through the mediums and topics which interest you. If you’re teaching creative writing, choose of your favourite examples which you are knowledgeable and passionate about, this way you can teach it in a way which will be enjoyable for both the students and yourself. Let your personal strengths be an aid to you in the classroom.  Though always remember that you need to carefully select the materials based on the level and capabilities of your students. You can’t teach Shakespeare to a beginner class!

You should never try and change your personality to be an ESL teacher; understand who you are, what you are good at, and go with it!