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LCB-TTC – Taller didáctico

Teacher: Gladys Baya


Student: María Pérez Armendáriz

Observation
Attending the learner1
Date: November 4, 2008.
No. of students: 13.
Age: ±16
Level: Intermediate.
Book: Laser B2, MacMillan.

Background
A group of learners in a classroom with a teacher comprises a learning community. The human
element – both verbal and non-verbal, visible and barely perceptible – shapes human interaction
qualitatively and may perhaps furnish the key to what happens (the process) and what eventuates
(the outcomes).
Approaches to language teaching that draw on an understanding of humanistic psychology
highlight the importance to learning of the affective learning environment. It has been said that one
can't teach a language – the best one can do is to make the conditions right for others to learn. Part
of these 'right conditions' involves how the teacher relates to – or attends to – the learners.

Observation notes
Key:
N = called by name; O = eye contact; P = pointing; U = smile; / = nod; ^ = reprimanding look; x5
= number of times the student was attended

1
Topic taken from Classroom Observation Tasks, Ruth Wajnryb, (CUP, 1992).

LCB-TTC – Taller Didáctico – Observation 9 – María Pérez Armendáriz 1


Analysis
1. Do any patterns emerge? Were some students named or attended to more than others?
In general the teacher attended to the students a similar amount. Only one student received less
attention, but maybe it was because the teacher assumed she would not participate.

2. Is there any 'pattern within the pattern'? For example:


- Is the sex of the student relevant to the distribution of teacher attention?
Sex was not a factor since it was an all-girl group.
- Does the seating arrangement lend itself to a particular spread of teacher attention?
This seating arrangement was not the usual. At the beginning of the lesson, some students came
to rehearse a song from a play the school is preparing. Because of this, all the desks were pushed to
the back of the classroom. After the rehearsal ended, neither the teacher nor the students rearranged
the desks. Either way, the teacher walked from one end of the classroom to the other during the
lesson in a way that left no student unattended.
- Is there a category of student that is attended to more or less than others?
During this lesson in particular, there were two who got more attention than others. One was a
student who participated a lot and answered many of the questions addressed to the whole class.
The other was a student who kept talking to her neighbor (from either side) and had to be told to
stop two or three times.
- Do weaker or stronger students tend to 'disappear'?
In this case, one of the weaker students went unnoticed. She was not called to participate as much
as the rest under the belief that she was too shy and did not like to talk out loud very much.
- What general conclusions can you draw about attending behavior?
The teacher should attend to good as well as unwanted behavior. The students should see that
they are rewarded for a job well done, and realize that misbehaving will not go unnoticed. In case
inappropriate behavior is on purpose only to get attention, then the teacher has to evaluate whether
it is best to attend to it in front of everyone or to take the student aside and talk one-on-one.

3. Focus on the use of names. Try to recall how these were used: for what purpose and to what
effect? Speaking generally, what purposes can be served through the use of names? What
means can teachers use to help them recall names?
The teacher used all names almost always, whether to ask a student to provide an answer, to
congratulate for a good job or to reprimand. By using names the teacher shows that her students are
not merely a number in the classroom. The use of names shows that the teacher has an interest for
her students as individuals.
If you have problems recalling names, calling the roll aloud at the beginning of the year until you
can place the names to each of your students is a good way to work on your memory skills. It is
usually a good idea to repeat the name of those who introduce themselves, for example, if a student
says "Hello, my name is Carla.", you can reply something like "Hi Carla, welcome to the English
class."

4. Now consider the range of attending strategies used by the teacher. What others are
possible? What comment would you make on a teacher's having a range of attending
strategies? Are these conscious or subconscious behaviors in a teacher?
The teacher was very effective with the use of names and looking at whoever she was talking to
in the eyes. She showed that she was really paying attention to them when they spoke. She was
friendly towards her students, but did not smile as much as I had thought she would.
It is useful for a teacher to have a wide range of attending strategies for different situations. If the
teacher is consistent with them then the students will know exactly what each means (a reprimand, a
congratulation, a request for something) and associate it to expected behavior. Ideally, the teacher is
aware of these behaviors so as to be able to use them according to the situation. However, not all
behaviors are controlled and most of the times they are instinctive.

LCB-TTC – Taller Didáctico – Observation 9 – María Pérez Armendáriz 2


5. Did you happen to notice anything about the students' own attending behaviors towards
other students? How important is this? What might the teacher's role be in this regard?
The students did not pay much attention to each other, not because they did not care, but because
the room was quite noisy and their soft voices were barely audible. Only once did they ask for
repetition of a sentence. If any of them wanted to get the attention of another, they would call out
their nicknames, or touch the neighbor to get something. Some of them shared books, so they
worked together and talked to each other.
It is important that the teacher monitors student behavior in this regard. It is common to see
students trying to catch each other's attention by throwing things or shouting. The teacher has to
show that this is not acceptable and provide options for attending to others that will not disrupt the
lesson or hurt anyone.

Reflection
Using the lesson as a mirror of your own attending skills, what comment can you make
about your own teaching behavior? What have you learned from this observation that you
could apply to your own teaching?
I think this lesson, as well as many others, help me realize my own shortcomings. I know I have
yet to learn many ways to show how to deal with students attention. Particularly, I have problems
remembering names; it is something that I know I need to focus on from the very beginning so as to
prove students that I care enough to remember their names and some facts that make them
important as individuals, not only as members of a group. I also hope that I distribute my attention
to allow all students to participate avoiding favoritism, or any tendency that shows unconscious
preferences towards certain students.

LCB-TTC – Taller Didáctico – Observation 9 – María Pérez Armendáriz 3