Sunday, 5 May 2013

Classroom based teacher development

This is a summary of a webinar I attended recently.  It was presented by the wonderful Willy Cardoso (@willycard on Twitter).  You can read more on Willy’s blog:

So, how can we develop as teachers whilst we are actually doing our jobs?
Observation Tools
1.    Video recorder

Ø  Watch yourself teaching. 
Ø  Record your lesson, or ask someone else to. 
Ø  Give students the camera to record the lesson for you.  Get them to pass the camera around.
Ø  Record activities – group work and pair work, for example.
Ø  Develop a culture of having a camera in the classroom.
Ø  Watch the videos back with the students and talk about what’s happening.

2.   Audio recorder

Ø  Have a mini recorder in your pocket to record secretly.
Ø  Listen to yourself later.  Yes, your voice is horrible – get over it!!

3.   Colleagues

Ø  Peer observations – observe your peers and encourage them to observe you.
Ø  Describe, don’t evaluate.
Ø  Discuss later and ask/explain why things were done.
Ø  Could use these occasions to count things, e.g. number of corrections per student.

Involve Learners 
1.   Give them an observation task

Ø  Use questionnaires or set a specific question, e.g. How many times did the teacher correct me in this lesson?
Ø  Data can be used for learners’ reflection and development as well as the teachers’.  For example, ‘Was there little correction because I didn’t speak very much?’  ‘Am I too good for this class?’
Ø  From the teacher’s point of view, ‘Why did I correct this student more than the others?’  ‘Why does this student think I corrected him only three times when I know I did it six times?’  ‘Should I be more explicit with my error correction?’

2.   Discuss pedagogy

Ø  Everyone thinks they know how to teach!
Ø  Encourage learners to discuss how they’ve learned something other than English.
Ø  Find out what students think about teaching and learning and use the information to help with your own development.

Validity of Bottom-Up Knowledge
Documentation is very important.  Share the knowledge and make it available.
1.   Portfolio

Ø  As a teacher, you should build up a portfolio like an architect or a designer would have!
Ø  You should include – photos, lesson plans, student testimonials, blog articles, videos of your teaching, certificates of attendance, etc.

2.   Blog

Ø  A blog can be your best business card!
Ø  It doesn’t really matter whether it’s good or not, but it advertises the fact that you are a developing teacher.
Ø  You can use your blog to reflect on your lessons.
Ø  A good blog can also show what kind of knowledge you have.
Ø  Blogs bring teaching down to the chalk face – they reflect what is really happening in the classroom and contribute to the body of knowledge of our profession.

3.   Workshop

Ø  Start small – within your own institution or even just for yourself or a few colleagues.
Ø  Share things you find out.
Ø  Try to develop yourself by creating materials that can be useful for others.

Critical Teacher Development
1.   Uncover/unpack

Ø  What is behind what we do?
Ø  What principles and beliefs underlie the metaphors we use to talk about teaching and learning?

2.   Localise

Ø  Localise the lesson in its social and political context.

3.   Be self-critical

Ø  Beware of the Apprenticeship of Observation 
Ø  Our training and development as teachers began with the very first lesson we ever had as a learner.
Ø  Be critical of ourselves – the technology we use, the jargon, etc.

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