I found it fascinating watching my student teacher with Year 11 Business Studies today. Normally she is very friendly and engaging as a teacher. She is already a good teacher but will be a fantastic teacher in the not so distant future. Today she was concentrating on maintaining focus from the students for the whole 75 minutes. It was a very appropriately planned lesson, given it was on break-even analysis. She attempted engaging the students with her real life experience as a business manager for fine dining restaurants which has been a successful hook in the past but fell flat today. She then carefully went through the components of calculating the break-even point. The students were keen to learn, even the disruptive ones. However, since the disruptive students have in the past disrupted with inane or snide comments she didn’t notice that today they were asking some really intelligent questions and more often than not she was shutting them down. With the explicit teaching part of the lesson over, there were worksheets to complete but she wanted them done in silence. Most of the students in this class are not great at concentrating for long lengths of time so a little bit of chatter would have provided a good release valve. One boy, who can be quite obnoxious but is very intelligent, asked if he could go outside for a drink of water. She refused, thinking that any moment she would be teaching up-front again. As it turned out, she took another five minutes or so and the boy was very aware, and indeed obnoxious, about the waste of time since he had completed his worksheet very quickly and accurately. I explained later that the release valve of letting this boy out would have worked for both of them.
Anyway, none of the students exploded from all the concentrating required of them, none of them appeared upset at the minimal encouragement, so no harm was done and besides, I’m going in first lesson tomorrow to praise them for what I observed. My student teacher can take a lot of positives away from the lesson in that the students learnt a new business analysis technique and they did focus for the whole lesson. When we talked afterwards she understood it was simply listening and encouragement of positive contributions that were lacking and that is something that normally comes naturally to her. We had a good discussion about a tight-loose-tight structure for lessons such as these.
After all that she went into a Year 9 History class for a different teacher and applied what we had talked about. She came out beaming. She had hit the right tone with the class and felt it was a very successful lesson.
It is a privilege to watch student teachers in action and learn from them. It is also good for being aware of the methods you use when they watch you. Observing your class with another teacher is great for learning more about the students themselves and how they best learn. I highly recommend the experience.