The In-service Feedback Session To Actively Promote Teacher
by Henny Burke
two - Focussing
second phase of the feedback session also consists of the
supervisor in the role of understander actively listening
to the teacher. However, the aim of this phase is to encourage
the teacher to think beyond the observed lesson and reflect
on the class in general.
order to do this I use focussing circles (Edge 1992:37-39).
I ask the teacher to write down the name of the class and
draw two circles round it.
space between the circles is divided into four segments and
the teacher writes in anything s/he wants to, all the while
talking out loud his/her thought processes. At first the teacher
may find it difficult to think of anything but it is important
for the supervisor to resist the temptation to tell the teacher
what to write. One teacher filled in the following:
supervisor then invites the teacher to take one of the elements
and put it into the centre of another circle and then repeat
the process. This teacher chose to focus on the coursebook.
talking through and re-focussing in this way this teacher
was able to identify a problem she was having with the class
which in this case was her dislike of the coursebook. However,
there were other problems also going on in the class which
became evident from her initial circle. There was an odd mixture
in the class - seven teenage girls and a thirty-year-old man.
She felt it was difficult to find material that could engage
all the students.
teacher and the class had "grown into each other". They had
not started off the course together and the teacher had taken
the class over from a much more experienced teacher who had
had a very good rapport with the group. The new teacher felt
unable to take the place of their former teacher, but felt
at least she and the students had grown used to each others'
way of working.
the areas mentioned above were touched on while the teacher
was talking through the focussing circles. These are areas
that an observer might not see in a sixty minute observation
because they are not immediately obvious or visible. The observer
might perceive tension in the class and speculate as to why
it might occur, but it will always remain speculation.
feedback sessions are to be of any benefit whatsoever, the
observer/supervisor must have a clear picture of what the
teacher is perceiving. I feel this can be achieved if the
supervisor acts as understander and actively listens to the
teacher. Furthermore, being actively listened to is of the
utmost importance for the teacher who learns more about him/herself
by expressing him/herself and hearing him/herself. In this
way self-development can take place.
Three - Prescription
third phase of the feedback session entails the supervisor
coming out of the role of understander and talking through
his/her own impressions of the observed class. I find it useful
to refer to notes made during the observation under the headings
Time Interaction Field
up situation at board
far as possible, under the headings of field notes, I try
to describe what is going on in the class rather than evaluate.
There is obviously a place for evaluation, but I feel spoken
evaluation should take place during the face-to-face interaction
of the feedback session in phase three. The written notes
can serve as a visual record of the observed class which is
useful for both the supervisor and the teacher.
advantage of doing more prescriptive feedback after spending
at least two thirds of the feedback session on active listening
is that the observer has a much clearer sense of what the
teacher is aware of. Thus one interesting aspect that came
up from my observation was that Josť, the thirty year old
man, seemed much weaker than the other students. The teacher
had interpreted the problem in classroom dynamic as being
one of a problem in age difference whereas, for me, it seemed
to be more of a problem in language level. Tracing the interaction
patterns on the written profile is also useful as it became
clear that Jose had sat on the edge of the semi-circle throughout
the whole lesson and had in fact only talked to one other
student throughout the whole period. The teacher realised
that she could be changing the groupings more often and Josť needed to be shared around the class more and more physically
integrated into the group dynamic.
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