As teachers we have all felt the disappointment of having to attend endless training workshops that we feel are repetitive or actually teach us little (or nothing) that we can actually use with our students. Recently, as I was sieving through articles on teacher training, an article grabbed my attention (LESSON STUDY). It is about a student focussed method of developing teaching strategies. After having read it I thought to myself, ´What an interesting topic to discuss on my blog´; I want to discuss the development of teaching strategies and how teachers should feel after having had a lesson observation. So here it is, TEACHER TRAINING.
The lesson study technique focuses on what teachers can learn from observing other teachers but without the pressure of being evaluated. Instead, the focus is on the strategy and how the students assimilate the learning objective. For me this takes away the element of pressure and eradicates trust issues. While doing my teacher training in the UK I noticed that the majority of student teachers felt as if they were not trusted while being observed, no matter how well the lesson went, the lesson (and therefore the teacher) was assessed and criticised. I hated this process (and so did my classmates. I as the head of studies in a language school would also hate to observe teachers this way) and believe that it doesn´t have to be like this. It can be a much more positive and enriching experience. One thing that I have always recognised during lesson observations is that teachers don´t tend to feel confident enough to express themselves. They always go for the safe option and I honestly do not believe this to be a good thing. What can a teacher really get out of a lesson observation if they feel as if they are being judged? Neither is it beneficial to the observer because it does not give a real idea of what the person being observed is capable of. All teachers should be trusted and know that the observer values them and their methodology. Feedback should be positive and provide teachers with useful information that will actually enable them to enhance their progress. All comments should be about the student’s reaction to the strategies in question, NOT CRITICISE THE TEACHER NOR MAKE THEM FEEL THREATENED OR HUMILIATED. This helps the observer gather information about the students and the teacher to come up with actual ideas that will benefit all of the people involved in the teaching – learning process.
The best teachers are those who feel motivated, they love their jobs, research new strategies, are willing to be flexible and use reflexive teaching strategies to evaluate their teaching methods to later build on their experience. Therefore, I for one shall keep the lesson study strategy in mind when observing our staff as I hope to help them as teaching professionals to improve the way they teach.
For the process of developing teaching strategies it is important to have a plan. Objectives without a plan are just like hoping for the best, and we as teachers need to have clear strategies in order to achieve our learning goals. Take a look at this site where you can find thousands of ready made lessons on any subject. Just search the key words and you will find what you need.
After writing this post I saw an interesting article on the british council website. It reinforces many of the ideas that i had mentioned previously about the opinions of teachers and their development.