Culturally, Myanmar people do not like saying ‘no.’ They do not like to disappoint the other party, and they work in a hierarchy which means that a pupil giving feedback to a teacher is unheard of, unless the feedback is ‘it was great, all great. You are a wonderful teacher!’
Through our training, our teacher trainee has become more and more eager for feedback and we would convene straight after class to go through our notes and compare. He would take notes on my teaching as well as me on his; this way we hope to encourage an open, honest relationship where he can tell me his opinion. Let’s face it, not everything works in the classroom and if I can explain that’s OK and that it’s OK to give objective negative feedback to improve performance then that will be an amazing step forward. Some activities I purposefully set up as examples of what not to do when teaching, in the hope that our trainee would pick up on this and perhaps explore ways of improving that section of the lesson. He learned amazingly quickly and was very good at writing down what he saw happening in the class around him. He started to go nowhere without his trusty notebook and pen into which he would jot down notes about what was working or not in the lesson.
After a week of adapting and changing based on feedback after the classes we had a system which worked pretty well. The sooner we did feedback, the fresher it was in everyone’s minds and the more hope we had of a successful session which would lead to positive changes in the upcoming lessons. Further, by videoing the lessons we could re-watch sections and comment on what exactly made a section go well or badly.
NEH Director of Studies and Teacher Trainer
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