Teaching for the years passed by, I have come to realize that giving a demonstration is truly a good way to evaluate what and how I have worked with my students.
In this post, I wish to offer some of my experiences for teachers who are working on a teaching demonstration and for student teachers who wish to gain from observing a lesson. Again, it comes from my own experience and this is not intended for those wishing to see a seemingly energetic and happy 40-minute demo lesson.
As an observer in a language class, I seek to gain insight from the teacher’s orchestration, the learners’ active learning, and the interaction between the teacher and the learners. I wish to see how the teacher structure a particular lesson, where the delivery focus is the concept not the textbook content; where the activities are designed to convey skills and concepts. That is to say, my major concern is how the learners demonstrate their learning of the skills/content/concepts through carefully designed activities.
And no, in the language class we can’t prepare the students for that kind of demonstration within one single lesson - the demonstration period. That particular period should be an accumulation of everything you have taught because this is how language teaching should be, building off what the children already know and move on to something new. It sounds like common sense, but it is a real challenge for a language teacher. Because you are teaching a foreign language to young learners and the learners practically learn almost everything from you and your teaching.
So yes, your demonstration shall not be a fancy 40-minute show, but the real representation of your everyday teaching. And it is not about you. It is about your students - a demonstration of what they have learned and how they learned it: your classroom language (mutual understanding), your content build-up routines (their self-learning skills),
In the language class, it covers practically everything you can think of and everything that facilitates the use of the target language in the classroom, whether it is exchange between the teacher and the students or amongst the students themselves. Language such as commands/requests (pass the paper, please? How many? Turn off ..., please. Turn on ...., please...etc) or attention grabbers.
Aside from the dialogues patterns provided in the textbooks (they are, most of the time, artificial and hard to be recycled in the classroom setting), there are a lot of useful expressions that can be taught to the students. I recommend teachers to find teaching clips available on Youtube to develop a repertoire of their own classroom language and practice how to use it appropriately.
Routines (or Your Classroom Management)
They are, in my opinion, the most important part in the language class. We can alternate and devise new teaching strategies or activities, but keeping the learners in a loop for them to feel safe helps to give them confidence exploring the content boldly and freely. It is crucial especially at the elementary level (K-5). More importantly, the learners will need to time to understand what is expected and not expected. I love how the strategies teachers in the US use to discuss and evaluate the learners' understanding by asking them
- what it looks like?
- what it sounds like?
- how it feels like?
It gives the learners a holistic picture of an abstract concept with concrete forms.
For instance, if cooperative learning is something one wishes to demonstrate in demo period, the learners need to practice it for at least a couple months before they feel trust amongst their team members and not worrying too much about making mistakes. If pair work is something one wishes to demonstrate in the demo period, they need to learn what to say, how to take turns or even how to respond.
Tricks, games and activity ideas are easy find in the sea of web. If an activity is not working for you, it is probably because there is some foundation you forgot to build before you implement it. For that, I mean the routines and your classroom management.
An enthusiastic ELT/CLIL teacher, passionate educator, researcher, teacher trainer, Apple Teacher. Seesaw ambassador and curriculum developer.