Teacher’s Self-Analysis: Which Aspect to Improve for Better Teaching
A teacher’s job is to teach pupils. While that sounds straight forward the question arises what makes a good teacher. If a teacher teaches all day, the outcome of the work lies in what was being taught. Pupils are taught what the teacher teaches. Now an easy thing to say is, that a good teacher should provide good teaching. But what would be, if the majority of students would not learn anything in a specific lesson, that would be regarded by other teachers as good teaching? The answer, of course, is, that all students are individuals and respond differently to the teaching. Making it dependent on the students, a more practical definition of good teaching is: Good teaching is, which makes the pupils learn and progress.
This post was written by our TEFL certification graduate Philipp K. Please note that this blog post might not necessarily represent the beliefs or opinions of ITTT.
What influences students’ progress most?
That seems to be a more convincing definition but made the task to define it in detail much harder. At this point, we have to discuss what makes pupils learn and progress. “good teaching” is just the first bullet point. With the information learned in the TEFL-course, we can further define this first point. The quality of information given should be correct and adequate towards the pupils’ current level. It should be relevant to the goals of the course. The speed of information given has to be taken care of. Gestures, mimic, and pronunciation must be clear. A structured lesson, that also surprises students with the contents of tasks and games are helpful. The second point mentioned as a criterion for successful teaching was the pupil's progress. In the TEFL-course we were taught about progression tests, but also that they are just an indicator, and can only cover so much content. A teacher should also have an eye on all of the students, and how they are progressing. When the numbers of pupils increase, this task gets increasingly more difficult. The most advanced pupil should be watched as much as the ones with the lowest English level.
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English environment and motivation
Besides those methods, two other things are crucial for students’ progress. This is exposure to the English language and motivation to learn or mindset. Of course, the students will be exposed to English during the lessons. Considering that this might only be on or two hours a week, it might not be enough for good progress. Besides homework, that can also only be a little repetition of the learned material, exposure beyond the classroom depends mostly on the student. Motivation is the last biggest factor for progress. It will influence willingness to expose oneself to English, but also greatly changes the way to remember learned material. Showing the use of well-spoken English in different cases and making fun lessons can motivate. Then again, methods for motivation depend a lot on age and many other things.
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Let us assume, a teacher is asking oneself, how successful the own teaching is, and thus, how much needed further improvement might be. Surely, he can do the survey with the class, ask colleagues or professionals. Which of the mentioned aspects does he look at? How does one realize if one of those, let’s say difficulty level, is well set? Let’s assume again: Students are making progress, just not from activities in the classroom. If the students are making progress, then difficulty appears to not be too far off. But it might be possible, that the students just learn on their own, just learn from the teacher talking or media they consume. While there is nothing wrong with that, it appears to the teacher, that difficulty level is optimal, and does not seek to change it, when in this example, it is not appropriate.
Another assumption would be, that difficulty level is adequate, yet many other mistakes are made teaching. The teacher believes the difficulty level to be the problem when in reality it lies somewhere else. This example shows, that a lack of experience quickly leads to the conclusion, that improvement is not necessary, or needed at the wrong place.
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Because the interactions can be quite complicated and also depend on the individual students, the conclusion is: Every aspect of teaching should be subject to optimization. With enough time to observe the results, the interactions between change in teaching and students’ progress will get clearer.
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