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LESSONS FROM THE CLASSROOM / (989 words)

PART 1
The teacher always begins his lessons with good energy, which is
sometimes good because it is very early in the morning and some people
feel sleepy. I really enjoy the materials that he prepares for us. They are
very different because I think he especially designs them for us and that is
not only helpful but also makes us feel appreciated.
Sometimes he can get excited with the activities, so when we check our
answers he in some cases makes small changes to them, and that is useful
because he is being detailed-oriented but I think it is not always necessary.
However, I like the fact that he constantly tries to makes us feel better by
giving us praise when we do our tasks, so nobody feels bad if they have a
wrong answer.
If something does not go well with one exercise he tends to explain
everything again, and sometimes he may use words that not all students
actually understand. It is a good thing that most of the times he
immediately realizes it and then uses words that we do understand. He
transmits certainty which makes me feel in good hands.
PART 2
As a teacher I think I always try to think of what the final outcome of the
lesson should be like. I try to make sure that students learn. I spend a lot of
time tailoring the right activities to meet their specific needs and I think
they value that.
No matter which lesson I have to teach, I do enough research so that I cover
what we are going to discuss in class together with any other peripheral
content or language that could come up in class. I find that to be a good
way to feel confident about the lesson and transfer that conviction to
students.
Making sure that the environment in which students are learning feels safe
is paramount. Small humorous comments that could arise from the lesson or
the right positive feedback at the right time definitely helps fighting
inhibitions.
Sometimes I tend to overcomplicate instructions though. By trying to make
the task more challenging or appealing I sometimes need to repeat myself
after I realize some students were not able to fully understand the
instructions.
My instincts are frequently encouraging me to control everything that
happens in the lesson, even in parts in which it is not needed. This is
particularly evident with more challenging exercises, in which I am at some
moments urged to edit some of the answers that I think could benefit from
it, but by doing that, students could feel like if I were disregarding their
answers.
PART 3

I believe one of the strategies that I have seen to be useful is peer teaching.
Usually there is one or a few students in a group that could assist in
clarification, making the class more student-centered. It is also possible
doing this in several ways, not just by nominating the same students, but by
following a guided discovery approach and dividing the tasks among
students, so they need to rely on each other for clarification.
I found Janes lesson (DVD) priceless. Her ability to make an elementary
lesson student-centered, by conveying meaning and correcting form without
using long explanations, is incredible. This was similar to the Foreign
Language class we had in the course, where we were able to engage in a
conversation in Japanese, without using English or having any previous
knowledge of the target language. I had thought that was unattainable
before these lessons.
Finally, the good use of monitoring by Catherine (DVD) as well as both
tutors, has shown me how micro-teaching, could guide your lesson towards
the desired goal. In some cases, it was achieved by just inserting a question
that made students do the self-correction. In others, to assess the specific
needs or concerns of a student, in an invaluable one-on-one talk.
These are just some few examples of some of the techniques that
undeniably made a significantly positive change in the final outcome of the
lesson.
PART 4
One of the areas that I have to develop is my teacher talk. I have observed
varied ways that contribute to decreasing it thus making the lesson more
student-centered. I am already including some of these strategies like: peer
teaching and elicitation in my lesson plans to correct this. In the future I will
try to use peer teaching during clarification, which I think is not difficult to
encourage.
Monitoring could be further exploited. Using it to obtain interesting points
about the target language is vital for the success of a lesson. This flexible
and effective tool can also be helpful to boost the confidence of introverted
students or provide strong students with extra challenges. I am interested in
practicing monitoring in all its extent which is I am now anticipating some
situations in which I could utilize it differently.
Simplifying my instructions, especially for low level students is another of
my priorities. With this I am avoiding possible problems in students
performance, and I am decreasing as well my teacher talk. I am at the
moment taking steps towards a solution by scripting my instructions and
adding ICQs.
At the beginning of the course I saw how poor rapport could exert a negative
impact on a lesson. Motivating students is as important as challenging
them. Therefore your activities should be designed following that premise.
My plan is to personalize my activities and questions whenever possible so
that students feel motivated.

Finally, I am keen to design and implement lessons that integrate several


skills and language. I have observed 135 minute lessons and we did a plan
for one, and I think it would a comprehensive way to practice what we have
learned in the course, especially time management and pace. By raising the
bar with a longer lesson, I hope I can refine my pace in a lesson.