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Brian Ward » My Teaching Values

My Teaching Values

One of my biggest personal teaching values is establishing and maintaining positive relationships with my students. I make sure that I learn my students’ names. I think it makes a big difference when you are greeted by your name each morning when you come to class. I have a few students whose English level is pretty basic and literally, the only word they might recognize in a day of class is their name. I also try and learn about my students’ lives. We usually do presentations in class about students’ interests, goals and life events. This gives me the chance to be able to have more authentic interactions with my students. I feel that successful integration into another culture isn’t just about international students coming to the USA and them learning about us, it is also our duty to learn about them as well. The process of teaching the students and learning about them at the same time leads to faster integration into the mainstream culture.


One of the keys to student progress is effectively assessing students on a very frequent basis. If we are learning new vocabulary about birds in class, I will project each bird onto the projector screen, teach the name and how it is written. After finishing this exercise I will ask students to take out their mini whiteboards and I will again project the pictures of birds onto the screen and ask the students to write the name on their boards, show me and then give the correct pronunciation.


I believe just teaching students English isn’t enough. We also must give them the skills to use technology. I currently use Lexia Core 5 with my students. In the beginning, the students were nervous about stepping into a different environment, but ultimately Lexia has made classes more exciting and has made the students more involved in learning and more comfortable with technology.


What I Value About My Students


My students are great cooks and they are constantly making foods for me to try. I feel like when I eat a home-cooked meal from a student from Algeria, I am gaining an experience that 99% of the population in Sacramento will never experience. I also enjoy watching the students from other countries experience new foods and learn about other cultures.


How I Support Students Inside and Outside of The Classroom


Inside the classroom, I give students an environment that is supportive and helps them reach their goals. I assess the students (formally and informally) to show them they are achieving language goals. Whenever we finish a lesson I do whiteboard tests. This helps the student to realize the gains they have made. I make learning Lexia more interesting by giving prizes to students when they complete a lesson. I also give them a certificate and put a copy certificate on the wall. Outside of the classroom, I take the students to the Capitol and spend the day with them. The Rally really opened the students' eyes as to the various opportunities outside the classroom in Sacramento.


Collaboration With Team Members


At a Professional Development meeting, I was placed on a team with three other teachers. Our job was to find “issues” with various lesson plans and to collaborate with our peers to find solutions. I found this collaboration to be very enriching. My peers helped me brainstorm ideas about teaching my students vocabulary more effectively.


My Commitment To Life-Long Learning 


I have been learning all I can about using technology in the classroom. Right now I am primarily focused on learning more about Lexia and finding ways to make the students more comfortable with using technology. As a teacher, I have grown in many ways. I have learned how to utilize many different platforms to teach English. I have gotten out of my comfort zone of just relying on opening a book and doing exactly what it says in the book. I am less dependent on just following the exercises in Ventures or Heinle Picture Dictionary. I now have more tools I can employ (Lexia, online resources, etc.) to make learning English more palatable and more memorable for the students.


How I Deal With Stress


Life can be stressful, there is no doubt about it. I think the best way to deal with stress is to be extra-prepared for each class. When I take the extra time to prepare a few extra activities for each class, that makes the class go smoother and is less stressful for the teacher and therefore more enriching for the students.