June 13, 2018 at 1:53 pm #3310
I have something on my mind that I hope your comments will help me work through.
My workplace has been going through a lot of changes recently, and my role there has been changing as well. I’ve been assigned to train a new colleague, and I am stumbling in the dark. Some of the challenges: we teach at the same times, so there is not much opportunity to observe each other’s classes; I’ve only been living in Japan and working at the school for just over a year, so I am not very confident in my knowledge of either the big context or the smaller one; she isn’t always aware when a class isn’t going well and so doesn’t ask for advice or support.
So far what we’ve done is have daily meetings where we discuss lesson plans and the previous day’s classes went. As the new teacher has become more comfortable with lesson planning, I’ve tried to add one new thing to focus on at a time. I am not following any system at all, just what I sense is needed. Last week I video-recorded one of my classes and we watched it together, but I didn’t really know what to ask her to focus on. This week we video-recorded my boss teaching a class and watched it together. I asked her and she said watching the videos helps her to see what she should do in similar classroom moments. That was encouraging.
I don’t know if I have a specific question. My big question is “how do you train a teacher” – without stifling her? I don’t want her to teach “my way” (necessarily). I want to help her find her own way – as long as it’s suitable for the school and the students. But I have no idea how to go about doing that.
/what’s on my mind
July 6, 2018 at 3:40 pm #3678
Philip Shigeo Brown (Phil)Keymaster
Hi Anne. Thank you for sharing this. It was really good to talk about in The Teachers’ Room and got me thinking about both my own teacher development and, especially, doing teacher observations for new instructors with on-the-job training as well as follow-up training and evaluations.
Having the opportunity to observe so many classes in my first 5 years of teaching and teacher-training definitely helped my own development immensely, especially as they were coupled with follow-up discussions that essentially focused on (a) what went well, (b) reasons for certain pedagogical decisions, and (c) areas to improve.
Typically, we’d start with teachers sharing a few things that went well (and why) then move onto issues that they faced, areas they identified for improvement and/or those I’d identify. We’d then come up with a plan to improve, which might include doing some reading/study, review lesson plans and/or practice specific teaching techniques.
Occasionally, I’ve had the opportunity to video my own class and watch another teacher’s class recording. It can be quite an uncomfortable experience for most people but one of the best pieces of advice I got was to keep doing it until I could watch myself without feeling embarrassed or worrying about how I looked or sounded. (This definitely helped with presentations, too!) Videos can be immensely rich source of data from which to learn
In the past, I’ve asked the teacher who recorded their lesson to decide what they wanted to talk about (since we are often our own worst critics), but I REALLY liked Gareth’s suggestion to have the teacher choose which parts of the video they wished to share. Where there is trust and a teacher is open to constructive feedback, I think this is an excellent way to hand back control of the process. On the other hand, where there is limited trust, the video is for teacher evaluation purposes, or teachers feel a need to only present the best of themselves, this may not work so well. For example, a couple of times, I had a new teacher who refused or was unable to recognise that their first lesson had been anything but ‘awesome’: they couldn’t come up with anything they thought they should work on and couldn’t recognise any of the issues that had arisen (from students being made to feel uncomfortable with personal questions in the warm-up to confusing instructions and insufficient language practice, or unnecessarily direct, critical feedback). However, MOST new teachers are under-confident and need lots of encouragement, specific, genuine praise and constructive feedback with can only really come from classroom observation.
For anyone else who’s interested, Richards & Lockhard (1996) Reflective Teaching in Second Language Classrooms (Cambridge University Press) has a very good introduction to observation (p. 12) with an action research suggestion, and guidelines for observation by student teachers (p. 22) as well as peers (p. 24).
July 9, 2018 at 6:29 am #3715
I’ve been discussing joining a NLP training course (aimed at business professionals) as a free participant in order to give the trainers feedback on the course and its delivery. I know that NLP has largely been dismissed by the scientific community, but that’s often a plus to me 🙂 I looked at NLP briefly from a linguistic perspective more than 20 years ago, but nothing since. Looking at it again now, I can see why to would work, but probably not for the reasons that practitioners think, and for reasons that the scientific community would not even consider. Anyone had any experience?
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