Ask a teacher

11th May 2007 at 01:00
I've been told I need to work on my presence in the classroom. Any ideas on how I can do that?

Michelle, Wrexham

A It's worth considering a few factors, such as your movement around the room, your voice, and how you deliver activities. Don't just stand at the front, try to move around among the pupils, and get them moving too. I like to do something unexpected from time to time, to keep pupils on their toes.

Don't be frightened of looking silly, pupils will enjoy it and the learning is likely to be more memorable. You can use a prop or even a wig. Vary the pitch and pace of your voice, observe colleagues to pick up tips. Use accents when reading aloud, it establishes your presence and makes learning fun. Finally, be a risk taker. The more you let go, the more your confidence will grow and the more likely that your presence will be established. Judy, Sheffield

A You need to think about what sort of impact you are making. Successful teachers have a variety of styles and do have a kind of presence. Select a role model - someone who has a style similar to your own, but who is more effective. Ask them how they do it and watch them in action. There are master classes in presence taking place every day in every school in the country. Linda, Worthing

A Teaching is like acting a part - once you open that classroom door the cameras start rolling, so practise your performance so it becomes second nature. Prepare the lesson well so you don't have to worry about the content or think about your subject knowledge. Plan a range of exciting activities so you will seem more dynamic. Don't be a soft touch. Have clear rules, high expectations and a consistent system of sanctions. And use a range of positive rewards, they will project a positive presence to the class. John, Wigton

A To some extent presence is something you've either got or you haven't and perhaps you are not blessed. Don't get down about it, that would be self-defeating. An awful lot of teaching is about performance and acting the part, and looking the part isn't a bad start. Sue, East Grinstead

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