It’s almost mid-September! Have you chosen your area(s) for development yet?

If so, how has it helped you to know your learners better? And furthermore, how has it benefitted your learners’ experience?

Going back to the two perspectives explored on my last post (www.richmondshare.com.br/its-time-to-start-over/), here are some of the choices I have made so far:

Leaving our comfort zone

I have been working mainly with peer observation. It has proven to be a powerful tool not only to foster both cohesiveness and trust among teachers, but also to shed a light on aspects of our teaching that we cannot perceive on our own. Basically, peer observation consists of teachers observing each other with a very clear purpose (e.g. How do I give instructions? How do learners respond to my instructions? How teacher-centred are my lessons? How do I contextualise my lessons and engage learners into the lesson? What can I do to create an environment conducive to learning?). There are two key words that should permeate lesson observation in general:

RESPECT because it is a privilege when teachers open their door and let us in to observe and then talk about the lesson, and it is also a privilege when they devote their time to visit our classroom to give us feedback afterwards!

DEVELOPMENT because that is the only reason why we observe and are observed in the first place: to find out what is working and pinpoint what and how to improve.

Making it happen for someone else

It had been 12 years since I last taught real beginners – yes, 12! So, this semester I have a group of real beginners (Yay!), and I chose to go back to the beginning mainly for two reasons:

  • We tend to forget what it feels like not to understand a word of the language we are learning, and I believe it makes a huge difference when teachers are aware of the process learners go through when they start to learn a new language.
  • I want to investigate more about adult learning/teaching and group cohesiveness among adults.

Putting it all together

In order to combine these two perspectives, I keep my door open to any fellow teacher who would like to come and observe my group of real beginners at any time (it is a great exercise!) aiming at my professional development. Here are some of the questions I have come up with for teachers to pay attention to while observing me and for further reflection in post-lesson observation discussions:

  • How well do I know my learners? Is the lesson tailor-made for these learners? How can you tell?
  • How is group cohesiveness promoted among all learners? Do they know each other’s names?
  • Do I give even attention to all learners? How do I balance support and challenge throughout the lesson to cater for different learners?
  • Am I teaching or testing learners when working with Skills Development? How can you tell?
  • Can learners perceive their progress during the lesson? How can you tell?

As most teachers, I am never fully satisfied with my lessons, I tend to always want to learn more, do more, be better… So far these questions have generated a great deal of reflection for me…  Hopefully, this inquisitive mindset will keep my professional development alive and fresh for many years to come.

 

I look forward to meeting you all here in October to share more about teaching vs testing when working with Skills Development!

Lenora Haranaka

Lenora Haranaka is a teacher & coach at Cultura Inglesa São Paulo. An ICELT and DELTA holder, she has taught English for more than 15 years and has presented in ABCI and Braz-Tesol conferences. Her academic interests are teacher development, pronunciation and ELT methodology.

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