What I have learnt from the observation of my peers and the experienced teachers about effective teaching.
From observing my peers and experienced teachers, I have seen that effective teaching can be delivered in different ways yet still has certain key aspects. Perhaps the most important aspect of effective teaching is good planning. If it is well planned, the aims of the lesson will be clear to both the teacher and the students. A good example of this was a lesson by DL, which I observed on the twelfth of September 2013. To have a successful lesson plan, it is important to know the stages of the lesson that are relevant to the subject matter being taught. Having the correctly planned stages will help a lesson to flow and will be more effective. This also works in reverse, if the stages are not clear, they can become confused during a lesson.
This makes things more difficult for the teacher as well as the students as it can then be difficult to understand what the aim for each task is. This was shown in M’s second teaching practise where he was confused about two of the stages of the lesson. Consequently, some of his instructions were confusing and it affected his confidence and the rest of the lesson Another aspect of effective teaching is ensuring that tasks are set in a relevant context, are varied and give a sense of achievement to the students after completion.
Having a relevant context and varied tasks will keep the students interested and therefore will be better at absorbing new information. Also, if the tasks are the right level of difficulty the students will get a sense of achievement from completing them, which will help to keep them motivated, and they know that they are making progress. Scrivener (2011/pg256) agrees. This was shown in the second lesson I observed with DL. The students found the tasks quite difficult but looked happy when they had successfully completed them.
What I have learnt from my own teaching practise experience.
I have learned several things about effective teaching. Having a good rapport with the students is an important part of teaching, it helps to keep the students interested and motivated to learn. If there is no rapport between the teacher and the students, the lesson can often seem dull. I learned of this after my second teaching practise. I felt as though there was not a lot of rapport between the students and myself. My peers confirmed this through feedback. I successfully tried to improve this during my third teaching practise and I felt that as a result, the students enjoyed the lesson more. I have also learned that checking questions are another key element of effective teaching. Instruction checking questions are important to confirm to the teacher that the students understand the task that they are to do. If the students do not understand and no checking questions are asked, the task would be performed incorrectly. Meaning checking questions are vital for effective teaching. If used well, they can confirm to the teacher that the students fully understand the concept of what is being taught. I have learned the importance of checking questions from my first teaching practise, in which I often forgot to ask them. Then when I monitored the students during the task, some of them were doing it incorrectly or did not understand.
My two chosen strengths and reflections
I feel that one of my strengths so far has been my planning because my lessons so far have gone relatively well. This has been shown in the feedback from my tutor. Planning well is very valuable to me as a teacher as it enables me to know exactly what I need to do for each lesson. This gives me the confidence to then go and teach the lesson successfully. When combined with feedback from my peers and my tutor, it can also help with self-improvement.
It gives me the opportunity to look at what went well, what could have been improved, if there was anything I missed etc. Another strength that I feel that I have shown so far is being able to elicit answers and explanations from the students. This has been shown by feedback from my peers and my tutor following my teaching practise. I feel that this is an important tool when teaching as draws on students’ prior knowledge, enabling them to link new information with something that they already know. It also makes for a student centred lesson rather than what would be lecture style if the teacher constantly gave explanations.
My two chosen weaknesses and reflections
One of weaknesses so far has been my ability to recognise which stages are required for each lesson. While I feel that this has improved significantly from observing experienced teachers, I still consider it one of the weaker aspects of my teaching. However, I feel that I will improve in this area with more observation of experienced teachers. Another one of my weaknesses is building a rapport with the students, particularly in my second teaching practise. Again, I feel that this has significantly improved with each teaching practise and if I continue to work on it, I feel that it could become a strength in the future. This is important to me as a teacher as I feel it would make my lessons a lot more effective.
My Action Plan
What I want to work on.
Why I want to work on it
How I’m going to work on it
Can be messy
Can seem unorganized
Run out of space
Can be difficult for students to understand
Plan board space in advance
Simplify as much as possible to save space
Practise writing on a board whenever the opportunity arises
Concept checking questions
Can sometimes ask irrelevant questions
Sometimes forget to ask them
Don’t always know if students have full understanding
Plan concept checking questions in advance
Put pre-planned questions into lesson plan as a reminder
Ask peers to check questions are relevant and clear
Use grammar books to ensure essential meaning is correct.
Recognising relevant stages for lesson
Can sometimes miss key stages, which can make following tasks confusing. Will
help lessons to flow better
Observe experienced teachers wherever possible
Read books about teaching e.g. Scrivener ‘Learning Teaching
Building rapport with students
Lessons can sometime seem impersonal
Will help make lessons more enjoyable for both me and the students Try to use more active tasks as a starting point
Try to relax more during lessons which will also build confidence Observe how experienced teachers build rapport with their students. Knowledge of grammar.
I find some parts of grammar difficult to understand
Can affect quality of lesson if teacher knowledge is not at a sufficient level Use grammar books such as ‘A Concise Grammar for English Teachers’ by T. Penston Use online grammar course on Cambridge English Teachers website