The checklist revolution

When I wrote about TEFL borrowing ideas from Evidence-Based Medicine no one seemed to think it was either likely or desirable. However, I later learned that much bigger results have been gained from the simple expedient of getting doctors, especially surgeons, to work their way through a checklist while they are treating someone. I’ve therefore created a TEFL version in the hope that this concept from medicine might have a bit more impact on our field.

The TEFL teaching checklist, to be looked at before every class

  • Markers definitely not permanent ones?
  • At least four handouts per hour, including at least one that you’ve cut up into lots of little pieces?
  • First worksheets you are going to use somewhere towards the top of that stack of 1000 pieces of paper you are taking in?
  • Still remember what you’re planning to do in this lesson, despite having spent the last two hours preparing tomorrow’s?
  • Sure you’re going to the right day’s classes?
  • Sure you’re going to the lesson you should be?
  • Prepared alternative if they have nothing at all to say about their weekend?
  • Know what to do if only the one weird/ incredibly shy student is there when you arrive?
  • Can remember finishing time of class?
  • Memorized the one name you have a mental block on even though you’ve been teaching them for two months?
  • Had enough caffeine to last you through the lesson?
  • Bladder empty enough for 90 minutes of teaching?
  • Pages of the book you need not eaten (or something??) by the previous teacher?
  • Flies done up?
  • No powder under nose?
  • No ink in mouth from chewing pens?
  • No splashes on trousers or stains on shirt?
  • Shirt tucked in?
  • Remembered to go back and finish shaving the other side of your face after you got a phone call halfway through your daily preparations this morning?
  • Deodorant applied?
  • Remembered to do that cutting up/ marking that you’ve been putting off all day?
  • Absolutely certain you’ve got the CD to the right edition of the textbook?
  • Done your pre-lesson stretches?
  • Decided on a new punishment to try and keep the kids under control for once?
  • Alcohol on your breath sufficiently disguised?
  • Got the answer key to all the exercises that you couldn’t be bothered looking at before the lesson?
  • Got round to removing that piece of beef from between your teeth?
  • Fixed your make up since that tearful phone conversation with your boyfriend back home when he told you that actually a year of you TEFLing abroad is longer than he’s willing to wait?
  • Taken post-shave tissue from face?
  • Trousers loose enough to do Head Shoulders Knees and Toes without the bottom of them splitting?
  • Tie and jacket arranged well enough to hide the stains/ sweat marks on your shirt?
  • Fixed smile on your face?
  • Mentally prepared to speak in-cre-di-bly slow-ly for the next three hours?
  • Prepared “spontaneous” jokes about the weather, news, language point of the day and students?
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