Making lesson observation less threatening and more developmental
I’ve been thinking about observation of teaching for a workshop I’m preparing for the BALEAP Teacher Education Special Interest Group (TEdSIG). Observation certainly seems to engender mixed feelings amongst teachers (Wang & Seth, 1998; Jay, 2017)). In an earlier blog post on observation, I explained that although observation of teaching was mandatory at my institution for BALEAP accreditation, I was concerned to emphasize the developmental nature of observations. I thought this might make the experience less stressful for new teachers and more rewarding for returning teachers. We set up a variety of types of observation: short buzz or walk though observations and peer observations. In 2020, with all classes online, we were able to conduct asynchronous observation through recordings of online lessons. Although this form of observation could have mitigated some negative feelings, most teachers were aware that a particular lesson would be observed at some point. Their reactions were consistent with reports in the literature (Wang & Seth, 1998; Jay, 2017)
Continue reading “FOBO: fear of being observed”
- T 3: I had no inkling the lesson would be observed […] I am glad of the opportunity to be seen as I really am without any pretence. For better or worse!
- T 16: I was aware that this lesson would be listened to by others and that always makes me slightly uncomfortable!
- T 20: I think I panicked about being observed and the students for some reason chose that day to be particularly unresponsive and I ended up reading the slides.
Attitudes to the value of teaching online
I recently heard a conversation on Music Matters (UK BBC Radio 3) between the presenter Tom Service and Ray Chen, a young Australian violinist, ‘who redefines what it is to be a classical musician in the 21st Century’, by embracing and celebrating social media as a way to connect with his audience in these strange times. Most other musicians are also recording concerts in their homes for online audiences, with some creative collaborations, but the usual comment is that they can’t wait to get back to the concert hall and a real audience. They see their online concerts as inferior kinds of music making, presumably with unreal audiences. In contrast, Ray Chen embraces social media, with 151K subscribers on his Youtube channel. He sees his Youtube concert platform and so-called live performances as equally valid. For him, the essence of the connection in an online performance is how much the performer and the concert goers really want to be there.
Interpreting candidates beliefs about EAP
I’ve just completed my last round of recruitment for Pre-sessional English (PSE) teachers, who will start teaching the final PSE Online programme 2020 from this week. We’ve taken them through a week of induction, which has allowed me to assess whether I made the right decisions in appointing them. The first week of teaching coming up will also be a good test of their ability to deliver the programme as it is designed, rather than as they imagine it should be designed. This final programme is so short (5 weeks of teaching and three days of assessment) that I really need teachers to quickly get to grips with the underlying principles and be able to deliver them.
Teachers who are transitioning from ELT to TEAP may have beliefs about teaching which do not fit the new teaching context.
I’ve been assessing portfolio submissions for BALEAP TEAP accreditation. Applications for Associate Fellow of BALEAP are usually teachers who are moving from General English Language Teaching (ELT) to EAP. This transition is often achieved by teaching on one or a number of pre-sessional summer programmes at a university to gain EAP experience, and then finding year-round work with a private company that provides foundation programmes for university entrance.