Terra Helmer

My session:


ELT flash talks

Connect with Terra  HERE

My story

I never intended to be an ESL teacher.

I majored in History and received a teaching credential in Social Science, but when the job market dried up in 2008 I had to look elsewhere and I landed in ESL.  It turned out I was well suited for the profession and I’ve never looked back.

I loathe indifference, so I truly relish the platform ESL offers to discuss topics and issues that lie in wait.  What people think is of great import to me and I am grateful for the opportunity to help them express it.

Outside of teaching, I enjoy adding history, trivia, pop culture and all things macabre and bizarre to my arsenal of expertise.

My good teaching habit

Disorder makes me anxious. I combat this with being well prepared; I anticipate questions, scaffold impeccably and always know where we are headed.  I see each class as a symphony to conduct.

My bad teaching habit

A Director of Studies once told that I am a Swiss clock in the classroom; everything is according to plan down to the minute.  I simply see where I want to take the class, but I could make space for more flexibility.

The gif that best illustrates my lesson planning/teaching style

The best teaching advice I've ever got

Swing the middle.  This was in regards to classroom management, but I believe it can be applied to multiple areas of life.  Your most behaved students are already on your side. So there is no issue there. Focusing on the students who continuously misbehave zaps your energy and wastes time. Swing the middle.  If you get those in the middle to move in the direction you need them to, they will naturally pull the students who habitually misbehave towards them because the students who misbehave are more responsive to their peers than they are to you.  Now they may never be where you’d like them, but they’ll be closer. So swing the middle.

My wildest teaching dream

I am a loyal listener of The Moth podcast. The Moth is devoted to the art of storytelling.  Each week broadcasts a collection of true stories based around one theme gathered from live events. The stories come from average, everyday people and literary or cultural personalities.

I consider storytelling a real mastery of language and would love to see a group of ESL students take the stage.

PS: Terra holds a Pass A CELTA  certificate from Lang 🙂