Published on February 18, 2014
Live Free / Speak Free
"I’ve been teaching English to adult learners for over ten years, and it’s becoming increasingly harder to stay motivated. Most of the time I’m just bored, but I do want to continue teaching. I just want to enjoy it like I used to. What can I do?" It can happen to any of us. After all, how many times can you teach the same ol’ verb tenses? The tedium is compounded if you always teach the same level, the same types of students, or work at the same school for years. If you feel depleted, bored or tired, you may have lost your teaching mojo. But here’s the good news! There are ways to get it back!
6 Ways to Get Your Teaching Mojo Back Re-connect with the fun side of teaching Having fun is an essential part of loving your work. And maybe lessons are not as fun as they used to be. Try to remember some of your most memorable lessons. Grab a pen and make a list. What made each one particularly fun? What did your class enjoy the most? What did you enjoy the most? Try to re-live these lessons and pinpoint something you could use or try again in a future lesson. Did you use a really fun game to practice a verb tense? Use the same game for another tense! Did you bring some special props or realia? See if you can add some to an upcoming lesson. You won’t be able to recreate that fun lesson, but you might get some clues as to great things to try.
Try These 6 Super ESL Games for Grammar Review
Shoot for Points We often need to review things that are no fun, things like the past simple or past participle of irregular verbs. Instead of the classic Q & A, try this. Use a large container or trash can as your “basket”, give your students a ball and have them shoot for points. But here’s the catch: you’ll ask them a question in past simple, and they’ll have to remember the past correctly in order to earn the chance to shoot. They can get 10 points for scoring or five if they miss (because at least they answered the question correctly). You can try any variety of this type of game, whether you use large balls or small ones, or even a wadded up piece of paper.
Board Game Everyone loves a board game, and your ESL students will particularly appreciate one if it’s not only loads of fun, but also a helpful way to review essential grammar. You can design your own to include the tenses and structures your students have learned, or use any of the ones already available at BusyTeacher.org. This Grammar Revision Board Game is a perfect example. http://busyteacher.org/5878-what-you-can-do-with-a-whiteboard-10creative-esl.html
Tic Tac Toe Tic Tac Toe is another versatile game, one that can be adapted to suit a wide variety of needs. What you need to decide first is which grammar your students need to review for the test. Then, write the topics on nine index cards or large enough pieces of paper. Arrange the cards face down on a table or stick them on the board, in the classic Tic Tac Toe 3 x 3 grid. Next, teams take turns choosing a square (you can add letters across and numbers down to make it easier to call out the squares). You turn over the card and reveal to your students the tense/structure/grammar point written on it. Students must then either provide an example or ask a question that another team member must answer correctly to get their X or O on that square. Of course, the first team that gets three Xs or Os across, down or diagonally wins.
Snakes and Ladders To play this classic game in your grammar review lesson, you’ll first need to prepare some cards: they may have verb tenses written on them, questions your students must answer or prompts from which to say a complete sentence. The rules are simple, but the game is so much fun! Students must first choose a token to move around the board (a different colored button for each will do nicely!) Then they take turns rolling the dice to move across the board. They must take a card and answer correctly to remain on that spot, or move back two places if they are incorrect. If they land at the bottom of a ladder, and they answer correctly, they get to move up the ladder, but if they land on a snake’s head they automatically move down to where its tail is. Here’s a blank template you can use or create your own. http://busyteacher.org/9177-snakes-and-ladders-blank-template.html
Football! This is a game I’ve played with students of different ages and levels with tremendous success. First, you’ll need to draw a playing field like this one on the board or a large piece of paper:
Next, divide your students into two teams. Place a “ball” token at the center. Then, students must answer questions correctly to approach the posts and score a goal. For example, Team A answers correctly and moves right one step closer to their goal. Team B answers correctly and moves the ball left back to the center. Team A answers incorrectly and can’t move the ball at all. Team B answers correctly and moves left one step closer to their goal. If Team A were to keep answering incorrectly and Team B correctly, then Team B will continue moving left to eventually score a goal. When a team scores, the ball moves back to the center, and the team that did not score last starts. The team with the most goals wins.
Jeopardy I’ve mentioned this game in several articles, and it happens to be my personal favorite. There is so much you cando with it - you can review everything they’ve learned in a single fun game. You’ll find it explained here. All you have to do is replace the categories at the top with tenses or structures you want them to review. http://busyteacher.org/5878-what-you-can-do-with-a-whiteboard10-creative-esl.html
Mix it up! One of the reasons you may have lost your teaching mojo is that you’ve been doing the same kind of teaching for far too long. In the above example, the teacher seems to have taught mostly adult learners. Maybe it’s time you considered a change, perhaps teaching a different age group or level, teaching some classes at a different school, or even taking some private students online. The change of scene can do wonders for your energy and mood. Also, quite often, a small change in the way you teach something helps. Maybe it’s time to stop re-using old lesson plans and come up with some new ones! http://busyteacher.org/3643-teaching-adults.html
Manage stress Are you feeling overwhelmed by your schedule? Biting off more than you can chew? Whether your stress stems from long hours of teaching nonstop, or staying up late to grade tests and prepare worksheets, it is very important that you identify the source of the problem. Once you’ve done that, you can address whatever it is that is stressing you out and do something about it. Maybe it’s time to teach fewer classes and sign up for that art course you’ve been putting off. You may have to slow down to de-stress, but it might be necessary to get your teaching mojo back. http://busyteacher.org/11957-too-tired-to-teach-7-tips-detox-destressregain.html
Get some exercise It might sound cliché, after all, exercise seems to be the solution to everything, but it really is important to balance out the hours of work with some physical activity. Exercise releases endorphins, the hormones that make us feel happy. You don’t have to suddenly go from couch potato to gym junkie. Start with a short daily walk or some yoga, then work your way up to more challenging activities. I can guarantee you will feel the difference, and just the exercise alone may be enough to chase those clouds of boredom away.
Share with colleagues You see other teachers walking down the hall, smiling and happy, and you think you’re the only one who’s tired and bored. But you’re not. Go ahead and try this today. Ask other ESL teachers or any other teacher if they ever get bored of teaching. Their answers may surprise you. Whatever feelings and doubts you may be having, there is another ESL teacher out there (or several) who have gone through the same thing. Find out what they did to get their teaching mojo back. You may find something that works for you, too.
Discipline your brain What do you do when a student becomes discouraged or unmotivated? You get him/her to acknowledge the positives and work past the negatives. You get your student back on track. Of course, doing this for yourself is easier said than done. But it’s all in the training. If you train yourself to listen to your body’s signals, you can identify a slump as soon as it rears its ugly head. Wake up one day not wanting to go to work? There’s your signal! Now, what are you going to do about it? (apply any of the above). http://busyteacher.org/3644-how-to-motivate-esl-students.html
If you’re bored of teaching, nobody can give you your teaching mojo back. Only you can get it back, and it’s fundamental that you understand this. It is also important that just because you feel bored, this does not mean you should quit. More often than not, just one little change in your routine/habits can do big things for your mood.
Have you ever felt so bored with teaching you wanted to quit? I certainly have! What did I do? I changed my schedule. I decided to teach in the morning and started writing in the afternoon. Even though this meant I was teaching less, I felt a lot more motivated during the lessons I did give. What did you do?
ESL Teachers Ask. What Can I Do if I'm ... Most of the time I’m just bored, but I do want to continue teaching. ... If you’re bored of teaching, nobody ...
Share What can I do if I am bored with teaching.
Ask Mom or Dad if you can do an extra ... A List of 106 Things for Kids to Do. ... by Jennifer at Teaching Boys, "Things To Do…When I'm Bored," that I ...
Education: Teacher, I'm bored... and several academics agree ... and you can only do that if you're developing lifelong learning skills.
i am bored The best in arts & entertainment, news, ... You can't get much more opposite Robert Downey Jr. than Marvel's new choice for Iron Man.
I'm bored to tears. I'm bored to death. Do you find yourself saying any of the above? ... Press the Bored Button and be bored no more. Add a Website ...
The first day of my first year in the Magnet program in 2002, I said to the students, "All right, guys. I want to see what you can do. Take a few minutes ...
What do you do when kids say I'm bored? That phrase--I'm bored--was one of those pet peeves I had while teaching. ... and you can opt out at ...
Bored.com is the net's place to go when you are bored. You can find tons of interesting things that you might want to share ... Do You Ever See Faces On ...