I Have Nothing More to Say

I bet all of you here have been in my shoes when the students are just so amazing and did such a great job that you literally have no feedback to give apart from saying how great it was.
Like, ‘this was awesome, guys, you did a great job, and… erh… hm… oh well, what else can I say? Let’s keep working like that next week as well!’, you say while going over your students’ performance in a panic search of at least some tiny thing to improve (an important note: we don’t focus on accuracy in our discussion classes). And you find none.
Okay, not none. Of course, you can always say something like ‘you only asked one follow-up question; it’ll be nice if you ask more next time!’. However, let’s be realistic: there’re four people, four topics, sixteen minutes, and a looooong list of functions and skills they’re supposed to use in the discussion.  If they managed to use it all and ask one follow-up question, it means they tried hard. Like really hard. Would it be fair to undermine their effort by saying that they could’ve tried harder and done even more?

This leads to the other question: Should there always be some points to improve mentioned in your feedback? Honestly, I think, no. Sometimes you just have to admit the students did 100% of what you asked and they don’t have to be pushed to do 101% unless they want to.
I believe that if you have nothing else to say apart from how great your students performed in this lesson, it doesn’t mean you’re a bad teacher. It actually means the opposite. It means you taught them well, and they used the knowledge you shared with them to the maximum extent.
Well, what can I say? WELL DONE!

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Reflecting on Reflection

This moment when you find out that the presenters of the TEFLology Podcast are your colleagues. Oh well…

Anyway, this is the post (which I promised to write like half a month ago) on my first ever Reflection Practice meeting. Let’s go!

The RP group I joined has been holding meetings for quite a while now but it didn’t take long to adjust myself (which is good because there is nothing weirder than that feeling you get when you join a group as a newbie and feel like an alien – you know what I mean?).

The agenda was ‘Reflection tools, methods, and techniques’, and that’s what we discussed:

  • Experiential Learning Cycle (which I have been using for quite a while without even realising)
  • Hand-y reflection tool (more about it in Ann Loseva’s post here)
  • Emotions and their connection to the needs being met (or not)
  • Your own ways you engaged in reflective practice (I could come up with quite many, yay!)
  • Zhenya Polosatova’s worksheet “How do you reflect on your teaching?”
  • Your PD (professional development) goals for the months (mine is to manage my bad-attitude class)

Zhenya’s worksheet is something I’d like to tell more about. It actually blew my mind with the variety of different ways in which you can reflect on your teaching. My ultimate favourites are:

a. Invite a colleague to observe your class, then talk about ideas
(I love observations, you can even say that I’m an observation freak

b. Write 2-3 (nice!) things you noticed about your challenging student today
(I must admit I have some challenging students so it’d be a good way to make myself like them I guess)

c. Free-talking about your ‘burning’ question
(I’m always up for a chat! Anyone else?)

d. Ask students about their favourite topics/activities in your lessons
(It’s always nice to hear what they think)

And just think about these two: 1) write a post-it Thank You note to one of your students and 2) draw your challenging student! Isn’t it amazing?! The latter one is an art therapy and reflection combined!

Overall, I found this meeting extremely useful and enjoyable and am definitely attending the next one. Can’t wait for it!

And how do you reflect on your teaching? Don’t hesitate to stop and share your experience 🙂

Goal-setting

Oh well, it’s been a long time since my last post.

I got through weeks 2 and 3; we’re starting week 4 tomorrow.

So far, I’ve been sticking to the same feedback activity every lesson. Last semester, I’ve tried different kinds of feedback and ended up with using the combination of self-reflective and peer feedback followed by setting a goal for the next discussion this semester.

All students set realistic and appropriate goals based on their performance – it’s good! However, not all of them (I’d say few of them) manage to achieve their goals. Probably I have to promote it more and push them harder…

Anyway, I decided to focus on goal-setting for my semester project (which is a teaching journal this time). Rather than focusing on achieving individual goals, I decided to promote so-called class goals (to create some sense of unity, I guess?). At the end of every lesson, we’ll choose a class goal for the next lesson. At the beginning of the next lesson, I’ll put this goal on the board and announce it. At the end of the lesson, I’ll ask students if they think they achieved it or not. If yes, then ‘yay!’ and a new goal. If not, then ‘ouch…’ and the goal remains the same.

Focusing on individual goals would be interesting as well but in this case, I’d like to do some questionnaires as well (progress, etc.) – make it deeper, in other words. So for now, I decided to start with a smaller project. I’ll see how it goes.