Classroom Observation: Report 5 Teacher Observed: OObserver: Alejandra de AntoniDate: September, 3
2009different pairs of students monitoring them. Since there were only 13 students,monitoring them effectively was definitely not an impossible task.
Grouping of Students; Arrangement of Seating
Situation: when the teacher entered the classroom, students had already arrived andsat down in three parallel lines facing the front.Action: the teacher started the lesson and made no changes of the seatingarrangement.Other Options: since it was a small group, the teacher could have asked them to sit in asemi-circle facing the front so as to allow constant eye-contact not only between theteacher and the students but also among the students themselves. I think that,whenever possible, it is more relaxing and not so classroom-like to let the students sitin a semi-circle, especially when it is such a small class. It is true, however, that for thestudents to sit in such a way they had to move their desks and chairs and it wouldprobably have been really disruptive. What could be done to avoid this disruption is toask the students to prepare the seating arrangement every class before the teacherenters the classroom (if they have time to do so, of course, for example during thebreak). This, of course, has to be a stated agreement between the students and theteacher. Having such a seating arrangement is not a must but is desirable in thisparticular context because the conditions are perfect (a small number of students,there is a break before starting the lesson and this classroom is only used for Englishlessons, which means that such a seating arrangement may as well be used by otherstudents).
Setting up Activities; Instructions
Situation: the teacher presents a speaking activity.Action: the speaking activity was a post-listening one (which is done to “personalise”the topic of the listening activity). In a post-listening activity, students are generallyasked to talk about the topic discussed by means of taking it to their own lives. In thiscase the topic was holidays. Even though it is a moment in which students aresupposedly talking meaningfully and without actually thinking about “learning English,”the teacher started out the activity by saying “this is similar to the part 3 of the FCEoral paper.” If the teacher’s reason for saying so was to let the students know that theywere going to do the activity to get an idea of what the part 3 of the oral paper lookslike, such an objective was not fulfilled. Instead of dividing the students in pairs (toactually resemble the exam) the teacher decided to have a teacher-student interaction.Instead of asking them to carry out the activity in pairs, the teacher started to ask thequestions herself to the whole class and students were told to raise their hands andwait for the teacher to let them speak.Other Options: the teacher could have asked the students to carry out the activityfollowing its original purpose: to have a post-listening activity for the students to talkabout the topic at a personal level. Students could have worked in pairs or small groupssharing personal experiences about their holidays while the teacher went group bygroup monitoring and helping them with any difficulty that might have aroused duringthe activity. They could even have been told to find out and decide on which the mostamazing and funny stories were and to share them, later on, with the rest of the class.If the teacher did want to let the students know how the oral paper goes, it would havebeen necessary for her to group them in pairs (because the paper is done in pairs) andto let them speak to each other and not only to her (in the exam students talk both totheir partner and to the examiner).
Board; Classroom Equipment; Visual Aids
Situation: one of the students made a pronunciation mistake (she pronounced “sink”instead of “think”)Action: the student said: “it was amazing to sink…” and the teacher said immediatelyafter her “it was amazing to…” (Giving it a rising tone showing the student that shewas interested, for some reason, in the final word of the student’s utterance) and thestudent said again “sink” and finally the teacher said “it was amazing to think.” Bydoing so, the teacher provided the correction herself instead of helping the studentbecome aware of her mispronunciation of the verb “think.”Other Options: it would have probably been more helpful for the student if the teacherhad used a visual aid. When the student made the mistake, I would have written on theboard what she actually pronounced (“it was amazing to sink”) and asked her to tellme if that was what she wanted to say and, if not, to tell me what she actually wantedto say. I would have done it in this way both to help her see and correct her mistakeinstead of my doing it for her and to raise students’ awareness of the importancepronunciation has in English and how it can change the meaning of what we are tryingto say if used wrongly.
Dealing with Unexpected Problems
Liceo Cultural Británico Teacher’s Training College. Methods II. ClassroomObservation Reports 2009.