No. That’s the short and simple answer, but did I ask the right question? Maybe the question should be can a teacher’s manual help you teach? To this question I’d answer affirmatively. Would you? May I pose a more direct question? Do you use the teacher’s manual for any textbook you use in the classroom? I’d bet a good number of teachers would answer no.
In my own classroom experience, sometimes the teacher’s manual simply wasn’t made available. Schools where I taught supplied me with a copy of the student’s book, but didn’t always provide a teacher’s manual. Of course, some textbooks are published without a teacher’s version or a teacher’s manual, but if such an aide is in print, it would certainly be appropriate to ask a school administrator to purchase them for staff use.
How exactly can a teacher’s manual help us? Often this resource includes an answer key to unit exercises and supplies unit tests and final exams. This is a common reason for taking the copy off the shelf in the staff room. As we know, creating our own tests is a time-consuming process. Also, it’s sometimes necessary to double check an answer to a tricky item in an exercise rather than assume we’re right. But surely there must be other reasons for cracking open a teacher’s manual. What are they? I think these teaching aides occasionally get a bad rap. Seasoned teachers might feel that using a teacher’s manual somehow diminishes their expertise.
I’d like to encourage teachers with both limited and vast years of experience to give teacher’s manuals a chance to help them. A couple of minutes spent glossing over an author’s suggestions for a particular unit might lead to ideas that improve a lesson plan or add a new alternative to an exercise which you’ve done a half dozen times in the past.
Other treasures a teacher’s manual may contain:
- Transcripts of listening exercises.
- Suggestions for varying the format of an exercise and/or the manner in which unit exercises can be corrected. (I like the one suggestion I found in a manual for the Focus on Grammar series. It suggests having those who complete exercises quickly put their answers on the board. Then when everyone is done, the class can question and correct any answers written on the board.)
- Alternative activities.
- Ideas for your presentation/ explanation at the board.
- Cultural notes or additional language notes.