Tuesday, July 14, 2015

What makes a good teaching demonstration?

Being invited to be a judge for teaching demonstration for the fifth time, I’d like to share some of my humble opinions when taking the ultimate test of becoming a qualified English teacher in public junior high schools:

1. Pronunciation and intonation are fundamental and crucial part of the whole process. If you have poor pronunciation and speak in a boring monotone, it would be quite excruciating for the judges to sit through your teaching demonstration.

2. When pronouncing those words, such as “raise” your hand, you are “wrong”, don’t “make” mistakes or put “down” your hands, please pay attention to the underlined vowels and see if you can say it right. You definitely don’t want to repeat those errors over and over again.

3. Within two minutes, judges will immediately decide whether they want to give you high scores or not based solely on your fluency. Seemingly, some people are teaching in English. In fact, they’re just murmuring or repeating what they’re writing on the blackboard word by word, not to mention switching back in Chinese, which indicates your inefficient language skills. Even worse, “OK.老師要quickly review今天我們learn的東西。” , which is totally a disaster. Without a shadow of a doubt, you really want to work hard on English speaking and some other presentation skills to stand out from other competitors.

4. You can do a lot to showcase what you’re capable of in fifteen minutes, but instead, some teachers chose to spend over half of the time or even more focusing only on grammar. What a waste of time! When you were busy jotting down those grammatical patterns on the blackboard, the other judge and I were yawning behind your back.

5. When teaching grammar, some teachers tried to use technical terms, like “third person singular”, “past progressive”, “conjunctions” and so on to explain how to use the pattern. Well, English is not our first language, and you’re already struggling with fluency. I really fail to understand why you want to put yourself in a more awkward situation like this. Why not just set up a real-life situation and have your students work in pairs practicing the structure? Then, maybe you don’t really have to get suck in the jargon.

6. Instead of overwhelming the judges with those patterns which can’t impress the judges whatsoever, why not incorporate some innovative teaching strategies, like cooperative learning, differentiated teaching or reading strategies, to impress the judges? All you have to do is just give your activity instructions like: “This question is a bit difficult/easy. All Spongebobs/Patricks (advanced learners/slow learners) in each group please stand up. If you know the answer, raise your hand.”, “Now, use the pictures on page 11 and 12 to make predictions about the main idea of the dialogue.” or “Look at your role sheet. If you take on Task 1, please go to Group 1 (Expert Group) now. Your job is to master Task 1 with your new group members. When time is up, you have to go to your original group (Home Group) and share what you learned with your members.”

7. To my surprise, 9 out of 23 teachers used identical teaching procedures today: “Good morning, students. You look energetic today…..”, “Let’s review the vocabulary that we learned yesterday.”, “I’ll write down three questions before I play the CD.”, “OK. What is the answer for (to) question NO.1? Any volunteer? Peter? Good. Yes, the answer is …… Good job. You got one point for Group 1.”, Now, we’ll play a game. If you think it is true, make a circle with your hands. If you think it is false, make a cross with your hands. Good. Question 1. Any volunteer? Good. Mary, what’s your answer? Very good. You’re right. The answer is ….”.

Simply put, as a judge, I want to see your professional skills both in English and teaching within 15 minutes. After all, we’re “English” “teachers”. You have to be an expert in both, not just one.

1 comment:

  1. MBA student and part time Research Associate at Oxford Brookes. I am looking to join a community that has a profound interest in entrepreneurship My areas of interest are classic management theory, the virtual classroom and online education delivery in developing countries.
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