Assignment 4: Lessons from the Classroom
To encourage you to reflect both on yourself as a teacher and on the methods and techniques you have been using in your teaching, and to develop a realistic action plan for your further development after the course.
Five weeks is a very short time to learn something, but I have really learnt a lot on this course. At the beginning of this course, I thought it was tough and stressful, because I was learning new teaching techniques. Previously I had completed my TEFl and thought that CELTA would be similar, but just as effortless, that was completely wrong. My experience with the EFL industry is teaching private students one to one in my home, so this was a massive learning curve.
During this course, I have learned a lot from critiques and feedback of my classmates and tutors, the observation of peers and experienced teachers, and self-reflection. When I had taught one to one before, I seldom thought about self-reflection or gave any feedback as there was no necessity for it. I thought this part was a good learning point to help myself and other trainees on their training path. After all your own self criticism is often the toughest.
To become an effective English language teacher you need to have enthusiasm and inspire enthusiasm. Also you need to be confident and help to build confidence in your learner, be friendly, have a sense of humour, be patient and know the needs of your student/s.
Looking back on some of my ‘work on points’ that I have had in my feedback from my tutors, I feel that I have become a more effective teacher in this way. The main point is that I am now better at organising my lessons. This I found a problem. At first I naively thought I would not need to plan anything. Once again, that was completely wrong. Standing in front of a classroom of expectant students, planning a lesson is a necessary skill I’ve learnt. As Scrivener has said in Learning Teaching a teacher needs to be aware of what the students are thinking and feeling within her class, therefore, “She actively responds to this in her planning and methods and in building effective working relationships and a good classroom atmosphere”.(Scrivener 18/418). Thorough planning is one of the foundations of a successful lesson, and helps to keep me ‘on track’ with the lesson aims. I am also more confident, have the knowledge to maintain good classroom management, but above all I now know that I can give the student/s an English lesson that will be fun and that they enjoy.
Part Two: Strengths and Weaknesses
Good rapport with the students was definitely one of my strengths. My tutor said that I was friendly and used the students names on every occasion. Plus I always encouraged all students, but not in a condescending way. Since my tutor’s comment about good rapport, I think that this has only improved all the more.
Monitoring is another strength that I discovered I have. My tutor said that I monitor and assist the students, but in an unobtrusive way. Plus I always used students names when talking to them during lessons. A “natural” teaching quality I did not realise I had.
Good lead-ins. This is the strength that I had the most positive feedback from both of my tutors. In the planning of my lessons, I tried really hard to use lead-ins that were connected to the lesson material that was being taught. I found noughts and crosses one of the most effective.
I have had a terrible problem with my lesson planning. I always mixed up stage skills, language, focus points ie; form, meaning, use and pronunciation. I had a look at a fellow trainee’s teaching plan, all the teacher talk had been clearly scripted and pruned to a minimum. They had also clearly plotted open ended questions, not just one word or Y/N questions, for students to respond to.
Language analysis is another weakness that I have struggled with. In our lessons we have been encouraged to do lessons on at least three language and three skills. The language lessons I found I was not confident in teaching. I have spent many nights revising certain language points, not to mention the dreaded tenses.
Lastly, Concept Checking Questions (CCQs) have been a problem. I keep forgetting to use them even though I have included them in my lesson plans. This has got better but there is still room for improvement.
In observation of my fellow trainees I have noticed different methods of teaching both positive and negative. I like the way that James, an experienced teacher, has a relaxed method of teaching. He comes across as approachable and patient. Also his way of including the students at the whiteboard doing activities, something I definitely want to do more of. On a negative note, Hua, who I have observed on many occasions tends to go too quickly throughout her lesson. Observing this has helped me understand that it is not a good thing for the students and it does not help their learning.
My future plans within the English teaching industry would definitely find me attending some seminars provided by IATEFL, this is to gain further tips on effective teaching methods, ie; feedback techniques. Also I will be approaching local language schools to see if I can observe some lessons of experienced teachers. I would also like to see if I could have some lessons on PowerPoint presentations and general IT use. I have Jim Scrivener’s book Learning Teaching and I am finding this really useful at the moment and it has already given me some really helpful pointers. As I already work for a language school, I will ask if I can teach a few lessons for them so this will give me some more experience within the classroom environment. I have thought a lot about eventually taking my DELTA, but after speaking to several experienced teachers, I think an MA in Applied Linguistics would be the next qualification I would like to study for, after completion of my degree. This will give me the qualifications I would need to be a school director in a local language school.
J. Scrivener, Learning Teaching, The Essential Guide to English Language Teaching.
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