The Daily Puppy

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viernes, 9 de mayo de 2008


I don't know why I keep making the same mistake. By being sorry I meant


Nerves of Steel: making classroom observations.

I feel pretty confident about making classroom observations; but, anyway, I cannot help feeling rather uncomfortable (sometimes)when I go and observe a class. It is as if I am intruding and peeping something private: I wonder whether teachers and students are their usual selves when there is a trainee or a teacher observing their class. When I made my first obsevation, I was feeling anxious about it:I can only equal it to the school inspector's evaluations when I was in high school. I know it sounds awful, but I even felt powerful: I was there to observe (yes, I know, big deal! who do you think you are? etc). If any teacher felt offended by my attitude, I publicly apologise. But I have learnt from them all, though; and as time goes by, people change and evolve. I think I have become more relaxed, less I-would-have-never-done-or-said-anything-like-that, more comprehensive of the other's anxiety. After all, we are there to learn. And we should be thankful for the opportunity.
So, to ALL the teachers who have helped me learn... THANKS.
And to those whom I might have offended with old observations...

jueves, 10 de mayo de 2007

Blogger: The Miracle of Learning While Teaching - Crear entrada

Blogger: The Miracle of Learning While Teaching - Crear entrada


I have made a deal with God:
He does not teach English, and I do not work miracles.
Welcome, everyone!
I have finally come to terms with technology, only God knows how long it'll stand me.
I am really thrilled at the idea of letting you know what I think and how I feel about teaching English to Spanish-speaking students. I would like to read about your own experience and opinions on the subject. I look forward to reading your comments soon!
So, let us brainstorm on two discussion topics suggested by Tricia Hedge, in her book A Framework for Teaching and Learning, OUP, pp 39 & 40..
2. At the beginning of teaching a course with a new group of adolescents or adult students, what kinds of activities could you engage them in to:
a- find out their reasons for learning English?
b- motivate them towards their language learning?
In both cases, I would use an activity which involved participation. One can find out their reasons for learning a foreigh language in the fiorst class, but motivation STARTS on the first class and has to be built gradually (hard work!).
Last year, I taught an heterogeneous group of 14 students, their ages ranging from 18 to 60. What I did on the first class was this: I started by trying to build confidence among the students (since they didn't know each other) and between them and myself. It is highly improbable that a person knows no English at all: words such as CD, DVD, OK, referee have become part of our daily lives, so I asked them to provide as many English words as they could and I wrote them down on the board (Even in a small group, and with a bit of help from the teacher, the board will be fully written in no time). I hoped that that would give them at least a pinch of self-confidence and lower their anxiety. And it did. "You see? You know far more than you think."
Next, I asked them to tell me about themselves. of course, I provided them with an example and talked about myself first. I showed them a rather large card with my name written in the middle and words and drawings showing where I lived, my family, pets and likes. It looked somewhat like this:
Rosa Daniel Iván Aylén
Pepsi Queen
Pizza U2
Castelar (drawing of a house)
(2 bones with the names of my pets)
I showed them the card and talked about myself using simple structures (I am... / I live... / I like...) becaue they had apparently very little knowledge of the language. I wrote the structures on the board, gave them out cards and asked them to do the same. To their surprise and mine they were able to talk about themselves and we all learnt about and from each other. Now that they realized they could communicate (however basically) in English, it was easier for me to find out their reasons for learning English- simply by asking.
I found this experience trully gratifying.
4. How important are the explicit teaching of grammar, pronunciation and vocabulary in your own classes?
Very important, I should say. I think that the teaching of a language cannot do without them. How could we communicate successfully lacking any of them? I think that- however rudimentarily- we should teach the language as a whole; all its components are equally important. The best thing, I guess, is to try and adequate the teaching to the students' level.
Rosie Tanner and Catherine Green, in their book Tasks for Teacher Education, a Reflective Approach, (Longman), invite us to reflect on how to approach a teacher whose class you wish to observe.
Task 5 Excuse me, may I come in? (p 10)
Brainstorm the most imprtant things you think you should mention to a teacher whose lesson you are going to observe. Make a "What?" list. For each point you list, note the reason for you idea in a "Why?" list.
1. Who I am
2. When I would like to observe his/her class
3. Whether he/she would like to kow what the observation is about.
4. Whether he/she would like to have a copy of the report.
1. To identify myself to the teacher and/or school authorities.
2. To avoid visiting at odd or inconvenient times (maybe the students have a test?)
3. The teacher (or even the students) may feel uncomfortable with my visit; this may release the tension.
4. To reassure him/her of the true reason for the observation.
Time out, take five. (p 11)
Journal entry.
Nerves of steel.
How confident do you feel about observing?
How have your ideas about observation changed since you first read the title of this unit?
How confident do you feel about making observations?
What do you think you, personally, can learn from observing?
My main concern when observing is to pass unnoticed. I have sometimes found it difficult to separate the objective obsever from the actual and subjective "me" (in fact, in my first observations), but I would like to think that I have made some progress since. When writing the reports on the observations, I had to add a conclusion in which I reflected upon the lesson observed, indicating any changes I would have made or ideas I would like to borrow from the experience. Evaluation was then unavoidable, though I knew I was there to learn from the teacher's experience. An in fact, that is what I do when I make an observation. I sit there, at the back of the classroom, pen poised, trying to take in as much as I can: how does the teacher start and finish the lesson? How does she deal with discipline? How does she attract the learners' attention? I go there with hundreds of "how's", some of which have met no answer yet. But I am confident enough that observing classes has influenced my teaching. I have adopted some teachers' ideas, and become aware that there were things I disliked in others but which I was doing myself (my BB synopsis is something I still have to work on!) . So I think there is a good load of things we can learn from observing classes.