Quality – From LOS To CPD

One may often hear how expensive it can be to invest time and money in learning a foreign language.

However, it is widely known that an institution is usually judged by its teachers and how qualified they are in the teaching community. Consequently, a LOS (Lesson Observation Scheme) is instrumental in providing the academic department with important evidence on a teacher’s performance in class. Further down is an outline of what we usually use at Cultura Inglesa São João del Rei.

 

  • Why Lesson Observation

Amongst various reasons, one advantage of a TP is to identify both strengths and weakness of a particular teacher. Being aware of such strengths and weakness a teacher is better able to map out changes in their teaching and build up from there.

Another advantage is to identify potential teachers in specific areas, say reading, so that they can assist other teachers facing problems with such areas.

  • The Choice of Topic

In order to get the whole institution involved in the teaching practice, the academic director and the co-ordinators meet to decide upon a topic or skill that they feel needs improvement in the teaching-learning process. The instant this decision is made all the teachers are notified about the topic for the Teaching Practice of the semester so that they have a clear cut idea of what the TP will entail.

 

  • The Input Session

Teachers are then provided with some background reading material on this particular topic, say, Authentic Reading. Then, input sessions are delivered in which the teachers will have the necessary elements to develop a lesson on reading skills. The input sessions are oftentimes heated by rich discussions, which is an added bonus to get the whole process going. The level of motivation shown throughout the sessions gives evidence of the pleasure this hard-working group of teachers take in teaching English. We are highly co-operative in the sense that we see learning English as a team-based process rather than an individual one.

 

  • The Tutorial Phase

The teachers are firstly asked to pair up by the level and age group they teach. Then, they have the freedom to choose whatever topic or lesson they are covering in the Coursebook and develop a lesson on it. This first phase in extremely important since the teachers are thinking on their own feet and scratching the first lesson plan. Another intent is to have teachers think about the benefits a pair work might offer. This reinforces the spirit of team work in the institution.

Having thought out the lesson plan, teachers and tutors meet up to discuss the best way the lesson can be delivered. It is worth pointing out that these tutorials are never a ‘I-tell-you-what-to-do’ process, let alone a descriptive attitude on the part of the tutor. Instead, the teachers are encouraged to come up with their own ideas and try to develop them in the best way they judge appropriate. Of course, some interventions are necessary to make the whole process as smooth as possible.

 

  • The Teaching Practice

On having finished with the tutorial phase, a date is decided upon and then the teaching practice is done. Then, a post-lesson phase is done in order to reflect on the TP, assess how fruitful it was and better equip the teachers to write a Post Lesson Reflection. The lessons usually last 60 minutes bearing in mind a future preparation for ICELT, CELTA or DELTA courses in which candidates are required to deliver 60-minute lessons. As for the observations, they are done by a group of tutors selected by the Academic Department.

In addition to the lesson topic, the teachers are encouraged to choose a personal aim they feel needs improvement, cf dealing with timing.

 

  • Learning Evidences

Previous Lesson Observation Schemes such as Role Play, Video-lexical Lessons, Authentic Reading, Resource Materials, Teaching Pronunciation and others have shown that providing teachers with learning opportunities is definitely the way to enhance quality within an institution.

As far as the professional development is concerned, Cultura Inglesa São João Del Rei is satisfied with the evidence the LOS has provided. It is important to mention that the attitude and commitment the teachers have towards lesson observation are highly positive. Consequently, this is a differential we offer in the sense that both teachers and learners do enjoy great benefit from such attitude.

 

  • Conclusion

To sum up, Cultura Inglesa São João Del Rei has found out throughout these years that the LOS is instrumental in providing teachers with both academic and professional tools to enhance their English teaching abilities. Despite the fact that some teachers might have encountered difficulties, lesson observations do prepare us for this fast-moving, challenging teaching world. It is true that selecting, setting and delivering the lessons can be a time-consuming task. Nevertheless, it is also true that the whole process is what matters most and it has been worthwhile so far.

Consequently, it is the institution role to raise teachers’ awareness of the fact that lesson observations can do a lot more good than harm. It is also important to make sure the lessons are carried out with a minimum level of stress and a maximum level of pleasure.

Adriano Zanetti

Adriano Zanetti – BA in Letras, Post-graduate in Language Teaching Methodologies, RSA Dip. DELTA. An educator for 30 years, an ELT consultant/teacher trainer at A2Z English Consultancy, a teacher/trainer/coordinator at FISK São João del Rei and Cambridge Assessment English Speaking Examiner. A Pronunciation SIG member responsible for Pronunciation courses for teachers/students. Presented several times in LABCI/ABCI conferences, Braz-Tesol Regional/National Chapters and different institutions in MG. a2zenglishconsult@gmail.com / dricozane@gmail.com

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