I was observed teaching today – TP 2/4 of my International House Young Learner course. I spent hours and hours preparing it (several on Saturday, several yesterday, several more today) – writing out the plan, tweaking the plan, thinking it through etc. I thought it was a good plan. Oh my goodness could a lesson have ever gone more wrong? Could I have ever been more wrong? I don’t think so…
Well, I have to do a reflection for it to submit to my observer, of course, so I thought I’d reflect on it here first.
On the plus side, I can see where I went wrong:
In the planning stage:
- One of my assumptions was that they would have met the present perfect at school. I didn’t expect them to be able to use it but I thought they would have come across it and be familiar with the form. A few had. Most hadn’t.
- The template I made for them, based on the poem that the book used to contextualise the language, was too long. I made it the same length as the poem in the book. I should have made it shorter. In the event, they didn’t get on to the freer practice activity where they were going to ask each other their questions, in a speaking ladder. And some of them had trouble coming up with enough ideas despite the brainstorming we did before they started writing.
In the classroom:
- I was tense, due to being observed, so instead of the usual relaxed, happy atmosphere, everything felt very awkward and stilted.
- The lesson plan was so detailed, pretty well scripted, but I couldn’t remember what was on it and that stressed me out even more. I don’t think detailed lesson plans and I go together. Not that amount of detail. I should have made a normal ‘me’ lesson plan as well, so that I could refer to that not the formal one. Something I could glance at and remind myself where I was and what was next. As it was, I forgot the order, forgot to talk about the meaning before moving to the form – the kids got me back on the right track by questioning the meaning, at least! A very stupid mistake. But I was flustered and it happened. On the plus side, they did eventually understand, after I used my timeline to explain it.
- I couldn’t turn off the projector because the remote control had got lost under all my stuff. So it was noisy and there was the blue screen of death, and I knew that all too well, but I couldn’t do anything about it! Ridiculous.
- My activity for eliciting the form (a projection of a summary of the form with parts blanked out for them to stick coloured words onto) was too complicated. It needed more scaffolding. This perhaps comes down to my incorrect assumption. I thought if I gave them more help, i.e. less gaps on the projection, it would be too easy. But also, it should have been a table, to make it clearer.
- I was supposed to ask the learners to memorise some past participles, it should have been half of those in the back of their book. I got that all muddled up and asked them to learn a ridiculously long list of verbs on a bookmark with the verbs on that I had given them as an aide. Poor little sods. They must have thought I was off my head.
- Then there was the pronunciation activity. By this point, I was really floundering and flustered and couldn’t remember what on earth I was supposed to do. So it all went a bit wrong. I was all the time trying to remember, “what did I say was going to say/do now? Arrgh!” Oh and also, the poem projected onto the whiteboard was too small – that created extra problems with managing the pron. activity which required them to look at it and produce the questions related to the statements. So I had to have them open their books, more faffery. And standing them up to generate more energy failed because of the book thing – they stood up without their books, sensibly enough, but needed them. Teacher management fail!
- Then came the writing, with the too-long template (see planning, above!). By this time, timing had gone thoroughly out of the window. And the too-long template took too long for the learners to complete in time to do the freer practice activity. Finally, I had to ask them to finish it for homework (those who hadn’t).
But there was a positive side too (amazingly enough):
- The beginning of the lesson (other than letting the routine get too faffy), was good – the learners matched words and pictures and put the cut-up lines of the context poem into the correct order and they were engaged by that.
- …erm. I’m struggling to think of any more! Maybe a very small positive side then… (I’m sure there were more…maybe…if so, I will add them later when I’ve had more time to think!)
I came out of the classroom envisaging a career change to data entry. For me, one of the worst things is, because I got a distinction for Delta module 2, I feel like my observers (for both this lesson and the last TP), who both know I did obviously, must watch me teach and wonder how on earth I managed to do that. *I* wonder how on earth I managed to do that. On the other hand, that was for adults. YL’s are a rather different kettle of fish.
I do wonder if doing this course so soon after finishing my last courses was a good idea. But on the other hand, I clearly need a LOT of help with the whole young learner teaching malarkey! Even if I don’t manage to pass the course in the end, I will still have learnt a lot. I already have. Maybe that is the main thing.
So, next step: Write the reflection and then prepare for the next observation. What have I learnt from today’s experience: A lot. So hopefully my children will forgive me for today and I can use what I have learnt to make their next lessons better…
My simple question to you today: What do you do when it all goes wrong?