Assignment 4 – Lessons from the Classroom The woods are lovely, dark and deep, But I have promises to keep, And miles to go before I sleep, And miles to go before I sleep. I decided to take the CELTA because it seemed like a fairly easy way to make some money while I traveling. However, a mere month’s exposure to teaching has given me the confidence to pursue teaching English as a serious career alternative, should I ever get sick of political antics and swindlers’ conspiracies. All through my life, people told me I would make a decent teacher. Now, I believe it.
I believe it because I have braved the utterly nerve-racking schedule of assignment submissions and lesson planning and teaching without falling apart. Though I learned a lot from our wonderful trainers (full credits to Gabbi and Maureen) and my absolutely wonderful classmates, I really have miles to go before I sleep (literally). A month is a very short time to learn something but it is admirable that all of us have had such a tremendous growth curve. Personally, I know I have become much more confident about standing in front of a classroom full of students and talking about the finer points of the English language.
Not many noticed it, but I avoided writing anything on the board the first afternoon we had Teaching Practice (TP) because my hands were shaking so vigorously. I have definitely come a long way since then. I have learned a lot from the critique and feedback by classmates and tutors, observation of peers and experienced teachers, and from self-reflection. I discovered the very first day that it was important to establish a good rapport with the students and be comfortable talking with them.
Observing Darin during his first lesson taught me a very valuable lesson – I learned it was important to engage students in conversation rather than assume the role of a traditional teacher. Though Maureen commented on June 23, the first day of TP, that I established a good rapport with the students, I really feel that I felt more comfortable from the second lesson onwards. Observing Porter in the first week of the class was a big bonus. He was so much at ease in class, so much at home. He made the students feel comfortable and involved his Advanced English students in the process of teaching and learning.
I worked hard on planning from the beginning and mostly produced solid plans. On June 2, Maureen mentioned that I had a very detailed lesson plan and good language analysis. I adjusted well to the different levels of students within the class. When I was teaching elementary level classes, I made it a point to explain concepts to the weakier students and help them during the tasks if they had any difficulty. After Teaching Practice on June 26, my classmates who had observed me teaching commented that I had monitored weaker students like Carlos and Jessica well throughout the class.
I think I did well in class management from the beginning. I made sure I kept all students on their toes and working hard. From the first week, when Maureen commented that I managed my classes well, till the third week, when Gabi as well as my classmates commented that I taught a good lesson to one truant students – I think my class management skills have only improved. From the beginning of Teaching Practice, both Maureen and Gabi commented that I successfully established a good rapport with the students.
On the first day, Maureen wrote in my Teaching Practice Evaluation, “You established a nice rapport with the students, very friendly and confident. ” When we switched levels, Gabi wrote in my Evaluation, “You built a good rapport with your new SS. ” Even though I have switched to the Intermediate level, some of the Elementary level students often come up to me with doubts and questions. I have to mention that observing Darin while he taught was a fantastic experience because he has always establishes such a comfortable rapport with his students.
I had a problem with excessive TTT from the very beginning. I think a major reason for this is that the Indian educational system tends to have very teacher-centered classrooms. from the beginning, the tutors and my classmates have pointed out that I need to reduce TTT and make the lessons more student-centered. Though I have tried hard to do this, I still have a long way to go before I become a minimalist talker. I do earnestly believe that student-centered learning is far more effective.
It was great to observe Porter because it showed how minimalist TTT can be super effective in the classroom. Porter allowed the students to lead classroom discussion and complete his sentences. He elicited a lot of information without being verbose. I analyzed language items well before presenting them in class. On June 24, Maureen commented that I had a “detailed analysis of the grammar operation of the target language. ” In the beginning, I had some trouble organizing the stages of clarification of meaning and grammar form. However, I think I improved significantly in latter classes.
On July 2, when I taught relative classes, Maureen said that I used effective CCQs and did a “thorough analysis of the form and meaning. ” I did help students with improving their pronunciation by doing both choral and individual oral drilling. However, I think this is one area in which I have a lot to improve. I have tried to correct students’ pronunciation errors, especially at the intermediate level, but I think I should do more of this. Fernanda consistenly drills the students a lot and tells me that it is very important for them to repeat the sounds again and again before they can be comfortable with them.
I think I did well in giving students practice in receptive skills of reading and listening during my lessons. On June 26 Maureen commented, “I think students received some useful reading comprehension practice, and you adapted the materials creatively. ” I do have a problem with linking the stages during receptive skills lessons. As Gabi commented on July 8, I need to link tasks more clearly so students know why they are doing the activities you ar giving them. I haven’t done a very good job at providing productive practice to students because I don’t time my lessons too well.
Most often, students don’t have enough time for speaking or writing at the end of the lesson. Wilson did a fantastic job at timing his lesson on July 14 – the students had more than 15 minutes of freer speaking practice at the end of his lesson. My goals for the future are to make my lesson more student centered, to reduce TTT and to improve my timing. These have been my most significant weaknesses throughout the course. I need ot hold back and let go of my control over the class. This will help me reduce TTT while at the same time making the lesson more student-centered.
To achieve this aim, I will let the students discuss everything before I step in with suggestions and clarifications. This will also make the lesson more interactive and fun for the students. I will work hard to be economical with my instructions and explanations by planning my lesson to the last detail. Timing the lesson is also a matter of careful planning. I also need to be very aware of the ticking clock. With this aim in mind, I will invest in a large clock placed strategically in the classroom so I can’t miss it.
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