• The value of observed teaching practice


    The prospect of observed teaching practice was one of the main reasons that I chose to take my TESOL course with The International TEFL Corporation. The offer of real life teaching experience coupled with immediate feedback from a qualified professional formed a large slice of influence for my decision.

    I have had a little exposure to training within a structured course environment but found the idea of creating and teaching my own lessons a little unnerving. Within my previous experience there was no feedback or reprimand if my level of performance wasn’t up to scratch. I was teaching fresh University Graduates the workings of Microsoft Office and Outlook within our fixed office operation.

    I feel one of the key values of observed teaching is that I gained immediate unbiased feedback as soon as the lesson had ended. This gave me the chance to see any areas within my lesson that I might need to improve upon. In addition to the verbal break down of the lesson, a written report noted during the class helped enormously, as I could look back on it once the adrenaline of teaching had worn off.

    The criticism was always considerately delivered and was clear and concise. Suggestions were always forthcoming and challenged me to think more like someone who is about to take up employment as a teacher. Encouragement and reference points were made available to ensure that previous failings wouldn’t be repeated.

    As well as criticism, our observers made a point of highlighting any positives that we had managed to achieve during our lessons. Again, encouragement and positive reinforcement helped when everything had not gone to plan.

    As our observers are qualified and experienced in real life teaching, they could offer further insights into the field of education. An example for myself being one lesson when I hadn’t planned as well as I’d thought. Thinking I’d be able to elicit the answers I needed, which the rest of the lesson would build upon, I failed quite considerably. I hadn’t had a backup plan. It threw me completely and the remainder of the lesson didn’t improve much, to the point that my material ran out with some minutes remaining.

    After that lesson my observer pointed out my obvious failings, no backup plan or thorough thought out board work. In addition to the deserved criticism, my observer noted my flustered state after the original board work had failed. They passed on to me some personal experience about what to do in such a situation. Step back for a moment, take a deep breath and retake control of the lesson. Steer it back in the direction that I had originally thought out, as well as planning more thoroughly…

    In additional to their general expertise and experience, all of our observers have been exposed to various Asian education systems for a number of years, both public and private. This proved extremely valuable in illustrating the cultural differences that are faced by native speaking English teachers working in Asia. Also we gained some insight into some of the possible problems that are faced by Asian students when they’re trying to learn English from a native speaker.

    To summarize, I have found that my observed teaching practice has been an excellent experience. It’s been a key component in my course in terms of my own personal development and in gaining exposure to the TESOL world.

    David Quinn