Here are a few things I’ve learned over the years:

  1. Don’t make fun of strange students – a colleague had an experience where a young guy came into his lesson late wearing a crash helmet. He sat at the back and banged his head against the wall repeatedly. Others in the class whispered  that he should ignore him. He followed their advice.
  2. Go easy on dry, understated, ‘English’ humour – students have a nasty habit of taking you seriously when you mean to be ironic. I once told a class that they would have to come to extra classes during the Christmas break and I still remember the look of panic on some of the faces.
  3. Just because an activity works for one group, don’t make the mistake of assuming it will work for every group.
  4. Don’t assume macho guys have a sensitive side.
  5. Don’t assume dumb-looking blondes have a serious side.
  6. Don’t wear a heavy shirt in summer – profuse sweating can be seriously embarrassing.
  7. Don’t persevere with an activity when it is clearly not working
  8. Don’t show you’re flexible and kind-hearted in the first lesson – better to start strict and then lighten up if/when it feels safe to do so.
  9. Don’t treat students like empty vessels to be filled. If you respect them , they’ll respect you. (At least that’s the theory!)
  10. Don’t start a class without a standby activity – a contingency  plan will save your bacon one day