“After playing in any match I’m usually very hard on myself and rarely feel satisfied with how I’ve performed. Even if I have done well I seem to remember the mistakes I have made, more than the things I executed well. I think this mindset helps me to be a better player, as it means I’m rarely satisfied and always looking to improve but it doesn’t always make me very good company in the days after a match.” (Evening Standard, Aug 2011)
The above quote was written by Tom Palmer, a rugby player for Stade Francais and a full England International. I instantly saw the parallels in his routine post match analysis with my own reflection on my teaching. Having lots of time on my hands this summer has allowed me to look back on the past teaching year and try to pick out areas that need improvement. I read the above quote during a particularly long journey home on the train and it prompted me to whip out my note-book and to draw up a list of areas that I hope to improve on in the upcoming teaching year as well as including some new ideas that I would like to introduce into my teaching.
1. Continuity – My first teaching year involved a lot of time trying to find interesting and engaging lessons for my students. This took precedent over whether the lessons were taking on any kind of natural progression from one to the next and I found myself jumping around from topic to topic and language point to language point without any real cohesion in my lesson delivery. I hope to stop this scattergun approach and concentrate more on delivering a series of lessons that have structure and clearer aims.
2. Self reflection – Something that I only really started to do in the last 2 months of my teaching year. Hopefully this blog will help but it needs to be more consistent and then acted upon rather than just talked/blogged about.
3. Board work – Something that needs to be improved more for my students more than me. I see this as the record of the lesson and therefore it needs to be clear, readable, reliable and well organized.
4. Video recording of Lessons – Something that I would like to start doing from the beginning of the year and to start putting it on this blog. Regardless of whether I think it’s a success or a failure it allows me scope to get feedback from a much larger audience.
5. Further reading – Again something that I only really started to do at the end of the year. My reading in the summer has made me really look at the way I teach and how much I can and need to improve. Reading has provided me with lots of ideas that I want to put into practice and therefore has kept up my enthusiasm and interest throughout the summer. By continuing it through the teaching year it will hopefully maintain my attention and allow me to continuously introduce new ideas into the classroom.
6. Recycling language – The amount of times I would introduce large amounts of vocabulary into a lesson and the next day never follow it up or even mention it still makes me cringe. Good board work and continuity in my lessons will hopefully combine to allow me to introduce and carry this out effectively.
7. Pronunciation in the classroom – Pronunciation only ever become a main teaching point with my YL classes when it was supported by material from the course book. My knowledge of pronunciation is woefully lacking and it is something I hope to really work hard on during the summer. My aim is to make sure some form of pronunciation work features in all of my lessons and probably more importantly to be confident in teaching pronunciation.
8. Being positive – It seems obvious but I think this can override any lack of knowledge or lack of preparation in the classroom.