Do you want to be able to control a roomful of pratom one students with one simple word? ? Would you like to get 99 per cent participation from your matayom class? Do you want an easy way to engage your adult students making learning fun for them and for you? Would you like to to see all your students make tremendous leaps forward in their understanding and usage of the English language (or whatever you may be teaching)?
If this sounds good to you (and if it doesn't you don't belong in a classroom) I suggest becoming a "Whole Brain Teacher." A few months ago I was introduced to an incredible set of techniques also known as "Whole Brain Teaching" or "Power Teaching." It has changed my professional life. Characterized as a "grassroots movement" originating in California over a decade ago it is rapidly gaining entry into the mainstream approach to education in America. It has it's genesis is in neurophysiological research into the brain and its leaning processes. The research showed that learning takes place far more effectively when connections are made between the cognitive right hemisphere and creative left hemisphere of the brain.(Traditionally educational methodology has been focused on primarily right brain activity). From this research three educators, a university professor of philosophy, a secondary school teacher, and a primary school teacher developed, and continue develop the techniques originally know as "Power Teaching".
The basic techniques can be learned and implemented very rapidly. They are:
1) CLASS-YES. You say "class" and your students will respond "yes" the key is that they must mimic your tone of voice. Very easy to get Thai kids to do this. The sillier the tone of voice the better. If you say "classy classy classy" (in a high whiny tone for example) they must respond "yessy sessy yessy" in the same tone. They will do it and you will have their 100 per cent attention. This technique has to do with the way this technique affects the prefrontal cortex of the brain.
2) MIRROR. Students must mirror the gestures you make while speaking. An example for an TEFL setting this could be having everyone stand and kick an imaginary soccer ball while saying "I like soccer". By mimicking the way the teacher is kicking and speaking simultaneously they are activating both parts of the brain. Whenever that happens it's always sanook too!
3) HANDS AND EYES. Similar to the CLASS-YES but with this technique the students must immediately clasp their hands together and look directly at you while you give them some small bit information or instruction. Amazingly they will comply and do this.
4) MICRO TEACHING. You only present a small piece of information at one time (which is always followed up by a TEACH-OK explained below). For example if teaching the past perfect we just give one small piece of information such as "the past perfect is always formed with had" . Always a very small bit of information. Notice I did not say " had plus past participle". You break it down to the smallest possible element and add on more information as you progress.
5) TEACH-OK. Research shows that we learn the most and retain the most when actively engaged in the teaching process. Sticking with the past perfect example: You say TEACH! the Students then say OK! again mimicking your tone of voice. They then work with a partner and repeat to each other, using gestures, "the past perfect is always formed with had." You pair weaker with stronger students of course and as they teach and help each other the vital connections between the brains hemispheres are being made. After a short time you call the class's attentions back to you with a "CLASS-YES.
6) THE FIVE CLASSROOM RULES. This is targeted more at classroom management when teaching kids however rule 5 is implemented with all students. They are: 1) follow directions quickly, 2)raise your hand to speak with appropriate gesture 3) raise your hand to get out of your seat with appropriate gesture 4)Make smart choices and 5)Keep your teacher happy. You must practice the rules with the kids daily until they know them.
7) THE SCOREBOARD. This is a happy face drawn beside a smiley face separated by a line. Positive reinforcement is given when students are performing well and doing what is expected and a check placed in the happy face column and reinforced with a mighty "OH YEA" chanted by the kids (or adults). When underperforming a check is placed in the frowny face column and a might OH NO is sighed by the class. At the end of class if there are more frowny face checks than smiley ones there is more homework assigned , conversely good behavior and cooperation can be rewarded with less homework. (Important not to let more than a total of three negative checks accrue in relation to the number of smiley checks or the students become resentful and the scoreboard loses its effectiveness)
These are just the basic techniques. There is a lot more to "Whole Brain Teaching". However if you implement just one or two of the techniques you will immediately see a dramatic change in your class. I would also like to note that this works exceptionally well with autistic and ADD kids. I have had both and in in both cases amazing improvements were made. In fact the kid with ADD became a class leader in many ways.
WBT can be used with in any age group and can be blended them with other techniques. Power Teachers are having successes working with kids in the most difficult situations in inner city schools in America dramatically improving behavior in class and raising test scores. Conditions are never as tough in Thailand as they are in places like South Central L.A. What works there in terms of giving the teacher control of a classroom can and does work in Thailand. It is amazing stuff, almost scary when you first use it. If you care about your students and your performance as a teacher go to the Power Teachers website and find out more about it. There are massive amounts of information about the techniques all of which can be downloaded for free. Happy teaching.
If you would like to see videos of Lee Lepper (the writer of this article) actually using the above techniques, then you can see them on Youtube at this link. They are well worth a look.