As mentioned, I did not want to give a final written assessment for teacher training. It seems to me to be a very practical thing, and it doesn’t much matter what you wrote on two sides of paper when faced with an unruly mob of thirty 6 year olds!
Each of my 11 teachers chose a topic that we had covered in the two months training. There was a wide variety of topics from the present simple and continuous tenses through to count nouns and modal verbs. Each teacher did the complete mini-lesson in English, which in itself is an impressive feat so well done ladies for that!
We had two sessions of presentations. The first of which was on a Friday morning due to the full moon days and school closing on the Monday. Due to the unorthodox day, our usual room was occupied with locals being instructed in keyboard usage and powering on a computer. Fortunately for them, it seemed that the electricity was happy to co-operate; this is not always the case in my experience and often the lights and fans will power down mid-lesson.
Generally it’s ok because the rooms have big windows which let in lots of natural light. In the height of monsoon season, it can be something of an obstacle. We therefore used the room of one of my teachers. She teaches grade 8 and her room is a simple but big space with white walls and child-sized wooden benches and tables. There is an enormous whiteboard on the front wall and two windows one the wall facing the doorway. The room is sandwiched between three other teaching rooms which are similar in size and style.
Each teacher personalizes the wall space with their own posters and even some of the children’s work. There is a teacher desk set off to the side at the front of the room above which hangs a clock. Lessons here are meant to be 35 minutes in length, but fortunately all of the teachers agree that is far too short to get the children in and seated and manage to actually teach anything, so the class time is lengthened to 45 minutes by mutual agreement of all the staff.
As it was a Friday, and therefore a slight deviation from our normal Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday schedule I was slightly alarmed when there was only 3 of the 11 students at 8:45am. By 9am though we had a reasonable turn out of 8 and my fears were unfounded. Some of the presentations were slightly closer to a traditional teacher led class than I might have liked. I was really impressed with the efforts of one of my lower English speakers who chose to focus on ‘Should’ and ‘Must.’ Her presentation was engaging and very easy to follow. I could clearly see that she had modeled it on what I had done in class and it worked well. She presented 3 basic sentences: I should go to the pagoda every week, I must go to the pagoda every week and I go to the pagoda every week.
One presentation had some very effective timelines on the board, and there were plenty of circles made to practice using the target language of the presentation. I was pleased to see the teachers elicit from their students, although this is an area for improvement still. I think that it is easier and quicker for the teacher to give the answer to students. This takes away the necessity for students to think, and they can quickly become passive. For a language, this cannot happen because it is a requirement that students use the language to communicate.
I enjoyed the change in scenery from our usual classroom, and felt as though it changed the pressure and expectation level for my students as it was their usual teaching space, and not the long thin room where they came for English lessons. Everyone was slightly nervous, but overall all of the presentations showed clear elements of student-centered classrooms and I was happy that all of my students, including the quieter ones had understood both the language and the concept of the training that I had delivered.
I like this method of assessment for teacher training; it gives me the opportunity to really see my teachers come to life, and it gives them a chance to practice before they present in front of real students. It’s a great way to see which areas still need to be worked on, and which have been mastered with confidence.
NEH Coordinator and Teacher Trainer
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