Over the halfway point

I had reached the halfway point of my teaching practice sessions. It was my third and final lessons with pre-intermediate students. It had flown by, and I had built a good relationship with everyone in the class, so was feeling sad to leave them and teach a new set of students. In the peer observation, MS and I had to observe each other on classroom management. I laughed because I was dying to see how CK would react to how I manage a classroom. Some people in the past have said that I’m a force to be reckoned with, so it would be interesting to see if I can put it into practice. Most of the students were well behaved and got on with the work, but I did have a couple who would be a bit naughty (e.g. talk when I’m talking or act up if they were bored) and their behaviour was neutralised almost immediately.

The class started off well, but when I asked the class a question, they started shouting, and I heard one of the girls Sal talk about something not related to the topic at hand. I said “Ah, ah. One at a time please!”, pointed my finger at Sal and placed it over my mouth. Once I did this, the whole class went silent. During one of the activities, two boys JP and Abub were sat together giggling, so I approached them and asked them what was funny. They didn’t say anything, so I asked them if they would like to share what they were laughing about with the class. A few minutes later, it was time for classroom feedback.

Before I started, I said “JP and Abub have something funny they would like to share with the class. So, boys, what’s the answer to question one please?” I will never forget the look on their faces. They were shocked, and I could tell they did not expect me to pick on them. In my head, I was smirking and got a thrill out of making them squirm. They answered the question, and I said thank you and moved on. The class went quick, and it was MS’ turn to teach. There was a problem. He forgot to bring his USB pen with him so couldn’t do the class. Shit. What the hell was I supposed to do now? I’ve finished my lesson and the extra materials I have involved more writing, and the students were probably fed up of that by now. CK came to the rescue and got them to play a game.

The class was over, and it was time to go through my feedback. I received positive feedback, and MS said my classroom management was good because I was on point every time a student was naughty and he thought me picking on JP and Abub was brilliant. There was some criticism, but I expected it because I missed an opportunity on explaining a grammar point with one of the other students, and I knew I did. My last ever class with pre-intermediate had come to an end. I felt all kinds of emotions. I felt sad because I wasn’t going to be teaching them anymore, but happy because I enjoyed teaching them.

After teaching pre-intermediate, MS and I had to teach beginners. I was more anxious about this one because I was certain that they wouldn’t understand anything I say. I had a sneak peek of what they were like because MS forgot his work, so he had to do his third teaching practice the next day. I had planned to observe him, but it was in the morning, and I’m not a morning person, so I watched two other girls (K and TE) on my course in the evening who were teaching beginners. There was a mix up with the observation journal because MS and I had started from the first page, which was supposed to be qualified tutor observation. After some persuasion, SZ let me do the observation my peer did on me the night before which was classroom management. I rolled up my sleeves and joked to myself “These girls better impress me.” Oh, man. The students were loud as hell. They were shouting and talking to each other while they were teaching. It was that loud in the classroom, I could feel the ground shaking, and I started to get a headache which made it hard to concentrate on what was going on and what I was writing.

After both K and TE finished their classes, we had to go through peer feedback. Both girls were nice about their feedback on each other. When SZ asked me what my thoughts were, I thought: “Ahh, shit. They are not going to like what I have to say.” I said I thought they both struggled to maintain control of the class and named some examples. I also said I felt one of them had faded into the background because of how loud the students are, and it was hard to get the students back on track. SZ seemed shocked by my feedback, and I’m pretty sure she said she disagreed with me. Hey, when you ask for my opinion on something, I will be honest. Yes, I’m honest, but maybe I was too harsh in my feedback? Whenever I give feedback, I always say what went well, what didn’t go well, and what they could do differently next time. I’ve always considered myself to be fair and constructive when giving feedback. I also told SZ “The students tonight. That won’t be happening in my class next week”, and she said I’m like a Victorian teacher. When I think about it, I may have been one in another life. I seemed to have taken this teaching malarkey like a duck to water.

Lessons learned:

  • Show you are a force to be reckoned with and don’t be afraid to stand your ground if students are mischievous.
  • Better anticipate problems with grammar.
  • Try to be more sensitive when giving feedback.

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