Key Words: Practice Teaching, Observation, Awareness
Learner English Level: Intermediate to Advanced
Learner Maturity Level: Last year of college or university
Preparation Time: An hour
Activity Time: An hour
Every year, during the summer and fall seasons, English departments in colleges and universities all over Japan send their future teachers out into the educational working world to try their hand at teaching. These short stints usually last from two to four weeks, allowing students an opportunity to experience firsthand the feel of the English language classroom. Many students often opt to return to their hometown and practice teach in their former junior or senior high schools.
Depending upon the dynamics of the school (i.e., principal, teachers, students, and classes) some student teachers are given ample opportunity to participate actively in lesson planning, activity development, student evaluation, and actual teaching; others, unfortunately, are relegated to the back of the classroom to sit passively during the lesson only to observe (when they aren't whiling their time away in the teacher' s room).
There is a huge discrepancy in the manner in which colleges and universities prepare and instruct not only their own students but also the schools which are hosting the student teachers. Many host schools tend to view the student teacher practice as a mere formality and do not
1) attempt to integrate fully the student teachers into the school's routine;
2) make appropriate use of the time when the students are in their care; or
3) promote much concrete interaction between the student teachers and students in the classroom.
Of course, there are certainly exceptional schools which go out of their way to make sure that student teachers are given every opportunity to experience what it is like to be a public school teacher, but they are just that--exceptions.
In all fairness, however, many host teachers I have spoken with have expressed confusion about what exactly is expected of them and what their role is supposed to be in guiding the student teachers. Obviously, there are no simple explanations or easy solutions to these dilemmas until concrete steps are taken on the part of colleges and universities to more fully inform and explain what is expected of the host schools; and for the host schools to make concerted efforts to include the student teachers in their school routines. I do have a partial solution which gives more specific direction and a goal to work toward.
When I first began to visit host schools to observe students practice teaching, I was a bit shocked at how unorganized and unimportant the actual demonstration lesson seemed to be to all involved. After the lesson, tacit nods of the head and platitudes were exchanged over a cup of green tea and we, the observers, were escorted to the door without any real exchange of ideas or discussion about the demonstration lesson taking place at all. It was after several of these tatemae (polite lying) practice teaching observations that I decided to legitimize the actual demonstration by completing a systematic, comprehensive, formal evaluation of student performance.
Before going to the host school, I sit down with the students and meticulously explain the evaluation form clearly, section by section. This way, the students will not be surprised when I show up (form in hand) to evaluate in detail many aspects of the lesson plan and its execution. This allows students the opportunity to anticipate more accurately what is expected of them. Also, it serves as a guide for them to follow when preparing for their demonstration lesson. On several occasions, the host teachers who were assigned to advise the student teachers have commented to me that they appreciated knowing what we, the observers, were looking for in the demonstration lesson in order to better advise the student teachers in their preparation.
Clearly, this simple evaluation form does not cover all of the possible scenarios that student teachers could and do face in actual teaching situations (e.g., team teaching), but it is an attempt to direct the student's teaching skills into a positive direction. Furthermore, before real and meaningful feedback can be exchanged among the students, host teachers, and observers, much more emphasis must be placed upon these practice teaching requirements in order to lend them credibility. Perhaps, putting an emphasis on the importance and need for evaluating students and offering positive feedback to them is the best place to start. Please feel free to utilize all or the relevant parts of this sample evaluation in your own student teacher observation situation.
Student Teacher's Teaching Practice Evaluation Form
Student Teacher's Name __________________ Student No.________
Seminar Advisor's Name _________________________
Evaluation Rating System: Put a O in the appropriate box below: 6=EXCELLENT; 5=GOOD; 4=AVERAGE; 3=NEEDS IMPROVEMENT; 2=BELOW AVERAGE; 1=NOT ACCEPtable; X=NOT OBSERVED DURING THE LESSON
I. Language Mastery
|A. Target Language (English)||6||5||4||3||2||1||X|
|2. Standard Grammatical Usage||.||.||.||.||.||.||.|
|3. Stylistic Range/Register||.||.||.||.||.||.||.|
|B. Native Language (Japanese)||6||5||4||3||2||1||X|
|1. Appropriate Usage When Needed||.||.||.||.||.||.||.|
|2. Clear and Concise Explanations||.||.||.||.||.||.||.|
|3. Balanced Use of the Two Languages||.||.||.||.||.||.||.|
|A. Execution of Lesson||6||5||4||3||2||1||X|
|1. Adherence to Lesson Plan||.||.||.||.||.||.||.|
|2. Clarity of Objectives||.||.||.||.||.||.||.|
|3. Clarity and Accuracy of Explanations||.||.||.||.||.||.||.|
|4. Variety of Activities||.||.||.||.||.||.||.|
|5. Appropriateness of Exercises||.||.||.||.||.||.||.|
|7. Use of Language in Context||.||.||.||.||.||.||.|
|8. Ratio of Teacher/Student Talk||.||.||.||.||.||.||.|
|9. Ratio of Target Language to Japanese||.||.||.||.||.||.||.|
|10. Pace of Instruction||.||.||.||.||.||.||.|
|11. Use of Supplementary Materials and Media||.||.||.||.||.||.||.|
|12. Clarity of Assignments||.||.||.||.||.||.||.|
|13. Error Correction||.||.||.||.||.||.||.|
|14. Logic of Overall Lesson Plan||.||.||.||.||.||.||.|
|B. Control of Learning Environment||6||5||4||3||2||1||X|
|1. Display of Confidence in Teaching English||.||.||.||.||.||.||.|
|2. Display of Enthusiasm for Teaching English||.||.||.||.||.||.||.|
|3. Display of Positive Attitude in the Class||.||.||.||.||.||.||.|
|4. Display of Motivational Techniques||.||.||.||.||.||.||.|
|5. Display of Support and Encouragement||.||.||.||.||.||.||.|
|6. Courtesy in Dealing with Students||.||.||.||.||.||.||.|
|7. Classroom Atmosphere Conducive to Learning||.||.||.||.||.||.||.|
|8. Students Demonstrated a Desire to Learn||.||.||.||.||.||.||.|
|9. Students Demonstrated an Interest to Learn||.||.||.||.||.||.||.|
|10. Students Showed Respect||.||.||.||.||.||.||.|