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Monday, February 09, 2009

Reflection on Linking theory to practice

I am glad that I have completed my first coursework. And now I am writing a reflection to reflect back on what I did for about a month to develop a sample of scheme of work, lesson plan and microteaching. But I keep reminding my self that my job is not yet completed till I have become a successful English teacher one day. Again, practicum part is waiting for me and I have to be ready for the challenge.
First of all, during the first task, developing scheme of work, to tell the truth, I really didn’t understand what it is all about. I kept wondering why a teacher has to make scheme of work. For years I thought a teacher only has to make a lesson plan, and prepare the teaching aids before teaching. And honestly I couldn’t find the rationale of doing the scheme of work. So, the first thing I did was finding a good pair to explain to me and help me to comprehend the task. Thankfully, my roomate was willing to help me and we could work togeteher because I believe in her capability as well her mother is an English teacher. Then we chose the year five, topic of people.
Scheme of work is something like a list of activities, together with their basic characteristics like the objectives, language skills, language content, educational emphases and materials resources, for teachers to select and insert them in the lesson plan daily. So this scheme of work does help teachers a lot as a preparation for teaching and learning process according. Yet I still could not relate it to the lesson plan. As for me, I looked it as otherwise, you could make a scheme of work by using the lesson plan.
When there were no specific guidelines for me and my pair to do the scheme of work, I began to wander around and try hard to find the best activities to match with the skills and levels and so on, but my partner said that the activities could be modified and improved in the lesson plan, I felt relieved because I was afraid that I was not on the right track. Furthermore, TEYL students (some of my friends) as usual love to criticize and comment on what their lectures have taught about the scheme of work. So I became very confused as some said we did it inaccurately. I became quite stressed out, so we decided to just follow the instruction and do the main point. It is not wrong if you put some extra effort on your work but you have to make sure that you are not lack of something in the end and you have fulfilled the requirements for the task. That was what I thought.
To do the scheme of work, I had to reflect back on my previous lesson for about 7 semesters learning on how to cater students needs based on the behaviourist, humanist, constructivist and cognitivist theories. Besides, I also have to refer back to the four language skills that students have to master for English learning; reading, speaking, listening and writing. I always thought that I knew about all that I have learnt. Now I think I was wrong. It is not easy though, the teaching reading skills, teaching aural and oral, teaching writing, literature and grammar. Also the psychological aspect that most teachers nowadays left out such as the children development, environment, safety, the use of ICT and teaching materials in the classroom, classroom management and curriculum . This is because, some activities for English like games does not contain learning at all, so it is my job as a teacher to improvise and adjust so that the activities are fun and meaningful.
Yes, there are lots of activities from various sources for teachers to look upon. It depends on you yourself. My partner and I usually refered to the library books and some bought books that are appropriate for teaching. We also searched from the internet, and another effective way wass by discussing and sharing infos with our own friends about the activities. The thinking skills that involved during this process are generating ideas, brainstorming, decision making, recalling knowledge or experience, researching and viusalizing. I also did some listing of activities, classifying,grouping and categorizing as I mentioned earlier.
Then,for the second step our pair had to combine with another pair. This time, our scheme of works were different, so we altogether discussed on which scheme of work to choose. During the process, we managed to correct some mistakes on my scheme of work. We found out that we had made some mistakes and it was good for a friend to tell the truth before you repeat again the mistakes on the next task or even in school in the future. We took their lesson plan under topic occupation for year 3.
That time I started to see not the whole part, but clearly half of what I am doing now. The lesson plan part. Based on the 2 weeks scheme of work, we chose the first week to do our lesson plan. Each of us had to develop our own lesson plan. This process was quite stressful to me. This is because the scheme of work was ot from my pairwork, so I felt hard to understand their work at first. Furthermore we hardly made much discussion because each of us had our own agenda for that particular week. I would take the safest step to make my own lesson plan first and then I decided to disscuss later. It was better late than never. During this level the thinking proces that involved were constructing the items and learning objectives, designing and describing the activities according to level and steps like set induction, presentation, practice, produce and closure. I also have to describe and explain on every steps of activities that I put in the lesson plan. Other thinking skills were hyphothesizing, decision making and arranging and sequencing.
So, after all of us had finished the 4 lesson plans, we discussed on which lesson plan to choose for microteaching. But before that, we had to make sure that all the lesson plans were according to the flow and related to the scheme of work. We all loved to just complain, but mybe we should try to rearrange some of the slight mistakes. That was what happened during the process. Sometimes I could not bear the comments from my friend. But I still could hold the tears from bursting out. I thought that, 6 years studying together had brought up all of us together untill we knew each other well, but sometimes personal problems might interrupt and affect our work. The ego inside me was too high because I felt so fed up with peoples attitudes around me. I felt tired of being a student. I barely could not control myself. But when I reflected back, these things would not stop and continuously happen in the future and even in school. So I took it from a different point of view as a positive challenge, slowly I had to alter my ego and I had to remember that we were what we choose, it’s not what we say, it is what we do. So I surrendered. To be a teacher I must have a strong heart and a wise mind. I had to learn to accept other people’s opinions.
During this stage I did some comparing and contrasting of ideas, analyzing and identifying facts and opinions, predicting outcomes, solving problems, planning again, reasoning, and elaborating ideas on the lesson plan activities.
The next step was the microteaching. After we had some correction and did the revision on the lesson plans, we finally chose the second day of the first week lesson from the scheme of work to do microteaching. The topics were occupation whereby on that day the students wil learn some phrases and sentences about occupation and the extra information from the first day. The main language skill focus was reading and we tend to do some drilling on the new occupations by doing grammar exercise, role playing and singing song.
We collected the materials needed and made the teaching aids together. Then we practiced along the steps. During the practice, we tried to improvise the activities so that the students would understand and it would flow according to the topic, also to practice our English communication skills. The thinking processes included the explaining, evaluating, describing, making associations and connections from the lesson plan to the real life situation in the classroom. For example the coincidences that might happen and also the questions that students might ask during the lesson, how to handle the slow learners and so on.
The final step had come, the presentation of microteaching in a mock classroom. I think that my presentation was one of my best but still not my very very best because my feelings were shielded by fear and shy. I have high level of shyness and nervousness. But thanks a lot to my classmates who had given full cooperation and help during my presentation. So far, I am satisfied with my teamwork’s ability to present a not so bad teaching lesson in a classroom. The comments that I received were very constructive and now I realized something that I always neglected, that the most important thing was the lesson that I want to deliver, not me myself. I was too concsious about myself because I really mind what other people think of me. This was my weakness point, especially when all the people stared at me. I would become very nervous. So, all the comments from friends and lecturer I will remember and also reminding that I have to challenge myself to make the students think, not just playing safe delivering lesson without the critical thinking responds from them. I also learn a lot from all of my classmates after they had presented, the comments they received and the responds from the students.
I promise to myself to change and rearrange myself to be more organized. As a learner I learned that I am responsible of what I am doing right now. I also have to be alert to the recent changes and development in classroom environment. I also must be affective and think rationally not emotionally in making decision. I must understand deeply what I am learning so that I can apply it in any life situation. I also have to relate the knowledge and connect it with the real life situation.
From this whole experiences, as a future teacher, the first thing is I have to be patient in whatever condition. Also have to develop the passion of teaching even though my ambition was not to be a teacher. I also must be open-minded and willing to share and negotiate. During the unexpected occasion I have to be prepared and alert. I also must be creative to manipulate the lesson plan and activities and also sometimes prepare back up plans to avoid further chaos during teaching and learning process. A good teacher accept critics and make improvement. She also must understand the students, the lessons and the teaching and learning process itself. But for me, love is the key to success. Love to learn, love to teach.