Monday, 12 December 2011

Teaching in a vocational school

I've just been teaching students in a vocational school in London as part of my post grad diploma. I am  currently pursuing a Master of Arts in pedagogy. Although I already have the French teaching diploma (DE) I want to know and discover more. The reason why I went back to studying is to challenge myself and learn more. I have a lot of experience in dancing and teaching but it is nice to be observed and pushed into new areas.
I have been writing down my thoughts after teaching each classes. I thought I'd share them with you.
Here they are:

It was very nice to teach these six classes. It allowed me to see the evolution in the students and to give more personal feedback as I got to know their habits and weaknesses. As I am used to teaching company class it was good for me to work in a completely different environment. The class, in a student context, allows us to spend time searching and exploring while usually in a professional context the purpose is to get ready for the day ahead. In that sense it was a great discovery for me and it is something I need to remember as it is important to adapt the style of teaching accordingly. In a student context I should allow myself to give more time to the students and stay longer on an exercise. I also need to remember that I can take time to break down a difficult exercise into two exercises.

I really enjoyed having to work on myself and particularly on the aspect of "interruption". I constantly interrupt myself in the middle of showing an exercise. I have this need of giving information to the students as I am demonstrating instead of showing it once and then breaking it down. I managed to get better through the weeks but it is something that I will have to work on for a while as it is deeply engraved in me. Once I have managed to show the whole exercise without speaking I need to make sure I don't give too much information afterwards. It is important that I decide what I want to concentrate on so that the quantity of verbal information doesn't become overwhelming for the students.

An other aspect that I want to work on is the idea of giving positive feed back when there is no reason for it. Quite a few times I told the students that it was really good when it clearly wasn't. I do think it's important to keep the atmosphere nice and positive but I have to find the right balance between that and lying. The unnecessary feedback is absolutely not constructive and could probably become destructive if the students start switching off as they get used or even bored of hearing positive things only.

The other pattern that I seem to have is in the amount of time I give to the students to practice. I interrupt them after a short practice to give feedback and then let them do it again. Most of the time I could, not interrupt the practice so that the students have time to discover things on their own and use the time to give one on one feedback. However if I do end up interrupting the exercise I should maybe give only two notes instead of a huge overwhelming amount.

Teaching these classes was a very good experience and it reasserts my love for it.

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