Due to my particular situation and previous experience teaching ESL, I already had a fairly decent grasp of some of the topics covered, as I assume may who take this course do; classroom management is something I had already figured out on my own, at least with regards to my own students, for example. Additionally, some of the topics, such as the grammar, were wonderful to review, but I currently cannot put many of those items into use due to school restrictions (I am not allowed to officially teach anything other than present tense, for example). However, taking this course has provided a lot of clarity and solidification of things that I already knew, but had not yet put into practice as effectively as I could have. For example, simply having to answer questions about classroom discipline made me much more aware of any flaws and inconsistencies in my own style of classroom management.
Additionally, the key thing that I have gained from this course is the clarification of both the meaning of and importance of the activate phase. I had used an activate phase in my own teaching without knowing the term for it, of course, as I always tried to play a game with the students based around whatever language point we had covered that day. However, taking this course has cemented the importance of an activate phase that does not simply touch upon or review the language learned, but requires that the students put their specific knowledge of the topic to use and help to "cement" it into their minds. This week, I have been building lesson plans around a workbook page that focuses on the idea of "long i" and "short i" in phonics. By including multiple study phases, each followed by a specific activate phase that requires each student to truly think about and use their knowledge about that phonetic difference, I was able to help my students understand the material far better than I think they ever have before (the workbook pages of the lower-level students were significantly better than they usually are for this type of lesson). This ability to think in terms of the three phases has also been greatly helped by the lesson plan that requires the identification of each stage, something which I have started doing in my own lesson planning.
In summation, I would say that this course has helped me cast a more critical eye on my own teaching, and made me more aware of what works and what doesn't. I no longer think in terms of filling time, but rather in terms of making sure that I have fulfilled the requirements for an engage phase, study phase, and activate phase in every lesson, and that all three phases are appropriately related. I will be changing jobs in the next few months, moving to a more typical "conversation school" in Japan where I will see students for approximately an hour a week in small groups, but I hope to continue to apply
this knowledge of the importance of the three phases to my teaching there.