Teacher Self AnalysisExpand
My early experiences of learning in the State education system of the UK clearly affected my career and attitude to education. In the main, I was taught by root, this had the affect of making me become bored and if I am honest, I did not take full advantage of my education.
Later realising I still had some untapped potential I enrolled on a course in Higher Education. I expected the same teaching methods that I had experienced earlier in my life, but instead found a more progressive, student centered approach. My motivation was high and I achieved my Certificate in Education.
I took these varied experiences with me when I entered teaching some ten years ago. I soon found that most learners at the college were I worked were poorly motivated, lacking drive and ambition. Part of my duties was to observe other teachers and provide feedback and mentoring. Observations led me to conclude that in many cases the student’s lack of motivation was directly linked to the uninspiring lessons served up by my colleagues. Sadly, during feedback sessions, many teachers failed to effectively evaluate their lesson.
Clearly if you as a teacher want to enhance the learning process you need to provide the catalyst that will ignite the students interest and be aware of what affect the learning process is having on them.
You may well be familiar with these words:
“I hear I forget, I see I remember, I do I understand”
(Confucius: teacher, philosopher, and political theorist, 551-479 BC)
It should therefore follow that the TESOL teacher who talks to much using little or no visual stimulation will be far less successful than the teacher who engages the students getting them actively involved in the learning experience allowing elicitation of the target language.
So what has this to do with self analysis and the TESOL course? The answer really is quite simple, because without some degree of reflection on their work, teachers will never be aware of how boring and ineffective their lessons are. Are they talking too much? Do they use visual stimuli? Are the learners actively involved in the process?
It would therefore be fair to say that to analyse effectively there is a need to reflect on the process you have just completed.
There are many theories on self reflection dating back as far as Confucius, but in my opinion the work of David A Kolb is by far the most relevant, other theorists such as A.Schon have simply developed Kolb’s original work.
Kolb describes himself as a “contemporary advocate of experiential learning,” ? and is well known for his cyclical pattern (experiential learning cycle) of learning from experience, through reflection and conceptualization to a further experience.
Put in simple terms we have an experience (in this context a lesson), reflect on the process, then ask ourselves what actually happened and importantly why it happened before planning for the next experience (lesson).
It is a fact that from an early age we all use reflective practice, it’s just that we don’t label it as such. A child who for example touches something hot, soon learns from the experience and avoids hot surfaces in the future. As we become older we have many positive and negative experiences. In most cases we benefit from the event but sadly some of us never learn from the experience repeating the same mistake over and over again. This inability to learn is probably because we only partially complete Kolb’s cyclical pattern jumping off at some point before the process is complete.
Mastery of the reflective process often leads the practitioner towards developing the ability to reflect in action. In other words to be able to carry out the process of self reflection whilst completing an action, moving on, and completing the task. Other periods of self reflection might happen in the same time frame.
Kolb’s aim is to help create the “reflective practitioner,” a professional, who uses reflective practice every day in the self development process. This would seem to be an appropriate target for the developing TEFL teacher as the importance of continued professional development is paramount and self reflection can and should be an integral part of this process.
Teacher Self AnalysisExpand
Teaching is an activity that is usually monitored informally by teachers. The principle of flexibly planning instruction so that it can be made responsive to the actual teaching-learning situation indicates that Self analysis and monitoring has an important role to play. It helps the teacher with the final stages of implementing a lesson in a particular class.
The practice of self analysis in the long run helps to turn the teacher reflective, one who is not only doing a technical job but also learning from experience. Some of the aspects of the teaching situations that can be analyzed by the teacher, procedures and materials that a teacher can conveniently use are some of the aspects in this thesis.
Self analysis can lead to better teaching methodologies, better student interaction leading to better absorption levels. It allows for corrective measures to be undertaken for better outcomes.
Self analysis is based on first and foremost the teacher’s belief and attitudes about teaching language. These greatly influence the way she behaves in the classroom.
A teacher can be someone who maintains a high degree of control over the class where the subject matter is central. Or she can be someone who prefers to divide responsibility and creates conditions that are conducive for learning. These attitudes greatly influence self analysis.
According to the book by Rea Dickens and K.Germaine’s “EVALUATION” it is THE LEARNER’S BELIEFS AND ATTITUDES which can influence the teacher’s self analysis. Students too bring to learning their own beliefs, goals and attitudes which influence how they learn. Though learning is the goal of teaching it is not a mirror image of teaching. The teacher should know what assumptions or expectations the students bring to the classrooms for effective self analysis and can form a firm base on which she plans learning in the classroom.
The above forms the basic platform before the teacher can begin self evaluation.
Now that a platform has been established the teacher can evaluate her inputs at different times in her class.
1. How did tasks/Exercises work in class?
The teacher in her self evaluation should be able to decode the feedback from the exercises/activities given to measure up to a certain criteria she had in mind.
She should record her views as the class progresses or after class. She should have a basic format which she should record her progress in the class. An example of the format is given below:
At the end the class
At the end of 30 mins
- Provided opportunity for skill practice.
- Provided for different level of learners.
- Encouraged interaction among students.
- Encouraged information sharing.
- Lesson was interesting/informative.
- Enough material to ensure under-standing of the topic.
Which tasks/aspects of tasks would need to be modified? Why?
The above checklist would help the teacher in modifying her teaching methods to suit the class.
2. CLASSROOM OBSERVATION AS A WHOLE:
Teachers can also monitor herself and her teaching in a class as a whole. These observations are usually done after 20 and 40 minutes into the class. In the book Richards and C.Lockhart’s “Reflective Teaching in second language Classroom”
There are certain points that a teacher can use to monitor herself during the class.
- All instructions were clear.
- The class understood what was required of them at all times.
- Every student was involved at some point.
- Students were interested in the lesson.
- The teacher made sure that all students understood.
- Materials and learning activites were appropriate.
- Classroom atmosphere was positive
- The pacing of the lesson was appropriate.
- The language used was appropriate for the class.
- There was a right balance between student talk and teacher talk.
According to the above mentioned book, as a teacher gains experience on the job, more and more of her behavior becomes routine or habitual. One learns from experience by reflecting on it, and hence the value of self anlalysis.It can help her teaching become even more effective for more of her diverse learners.
Self monitoring involves critical reflection by the teacher which in turn triggers a deeper understanding of teaching. This self analysis is illuminative in the sense it gives us information about the actual process of teaching that can be immediately be fed back to alter or improve the class.
3. SELF ANALYSIS CHECKPOINTS (based on experience by self)
There are certain points which a teacher should consider before beginning the lesson, after the lesson and what has the teacher learnt.This checklist is usually enough for effective teaching and learning in a classroom. This list is purely based on my experience and I find that it usually works for me.
I.Before the lesson:
- Is the lesson planned interesting?
- Does it provide opportunities for students to be actively involved?
- Classroom arrangement and materials to be used.
- Which skills should be focused upon?
- The aim of the lesson
- Are the instructions clear?
- Have provisions been made for slow/quick learners?
II. After the lesson:
- Were the students interested and was the lesson smoothly/badly organized?
- Which learners were not involved? Why?
- Was the language used by the students meaningful?
- Plans to follow up the lesson
- Which of your aims were achieved?
- Did students give their input?
- Did they have adequate time to talk or did the teacher dominate the class?
III. What have I learnt from the above?
- How would I improve my teaching?
- How can I develop my teaching in the future?
To conclude Teacher Self Analysis is as on- the-job activity. This activity is very much required of the teacher and should not be viewed as a burden but as a special dimension to the mundane act of teaching that most teachers engage in. Teachers can themselves decide based on the self analysis which findings are relevant and useful to the given situation and which ones to be discarded and which ones to be repeated and most importantly, why?
Teachers are no more mere ‘subjects’ who are subjected to classroom observations or interviews by department heads and the like but are an integral part of the class who believes in self evaluation and more importantly take the necessary corrective measures from her findings.
By Shalini Narayanan