Friday, July 23, 2010

Lesson Plans and Planned Lessons

Yesterday, in the English Method class, AR made us teach the texts we had recently submitted lesson plans on, with the help of the latter. Having been absent for two consecutive days due to a stomach bug, I was initially clueless about what to do. Turns out most of my classmates were in a similar state, even though they'd been informed about the thing in the last class. Naturally. I mean, not all of us have actual classroom teaching experience. Not that it would have helped much. Following the lesson plan toto is an incredibly intimidating proposition, as we were soon to find out for ourselves.

No one wanted to volunteer to be the one to initiate the process. AR was obliged to first convince and then coerce (the time-tested and universal way to make students do something new). Ultimately, a girl called Sayantani was selected. After considerable nudging and prodding, she took the stage. She had to teach a poem called 'The Kitten at Play' to students of class 7. It's about a kitten playing with withered leaves, sitting on the wall, oblivious to the existence of the rest of the world. A simple poem, you'd think, at one read. But teaching it, as we soon found out, was a whole different ball game. We, by the way, had to behave like class 7 students and give apt answers to questions the 'teacher' might put to us. That wasn't too hard, all of us ready to be in splits at any comic relief that came our way, thanks to the whole mock-teaching session. But seriously, when it was my turn, I found out how hard it could be to follow the lesson plan to the T. It needs a considerable amount of practice.

My text was 'Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening' by Robert Frost, to be taught in the second language period of class X. A poem we're all too familiar with. To my dismay, it turned out AR's area of speciality is American Literature (she has a PhD). Naturally, all my mistakes would seem glaring to her. Anyway, I had no option of opting out. I started with testing the 'previous knowledge' of my 'students' (to help link their past knowledge with their future), asking them about their personal encounters with forests, snow and horse-drawn carriages and urging them to provide adjectives to describe a snowy winter evening in the forest. Having captured their attention by now, I proceeded to write the title of the poem on the board (being careful to ensure that the chalk didn't squeak, as that would distract their attention pronto) and introduce a few new textual words ( following the 'Knowledge' section of 'Behavioural Objectives'), discussing their meaning and opposites and even asking a few selected students ( trying to avoid the rude "yes, you") to compose sentences with the new additions to their vocabulary ('Application'). I also had to test their 'Understanding' by asking why the woods would feel quiet and lonely, why the horse was possibly confused and how the poet had described the stark beauty of nature even in winter.

The next stage was a few immediate text-related questions which preceded the actual ideal reading of the text (loud and clear, with correct pronunciation, proper punctuational pauses and poetic fervour). The students were then supposed to read the poem silently, with the teacher moving around, offering assistance wherever required. Meanwhile, a verbal gist of the text was given by the teacher to aid them in the comprehension of the text. After the reading was over, students were to be given appropriate examples of new concepts incorporated in the text, for instance, examples of other units of distance (other than 'miles'). The use of teaching aids like charts or models was to accompany the teaching of the text while ample and judicious use of the blackboard was a serious factor in measuring teaching capacity. The students were to be divided into groups thereafter and allowed to discuss the text (a bad idea in most schools, as far as discipline is concerned, and definitely inviting trouble in terms of marks for 'classroom management'). The process was wrapped up by the three-fold steps of consolidation (a pointing out of the central idea of the text by the teacher), evaluation (a few pertinent questions addressed to randomly selected students) and writing down a question for homework on the board. Finally, the teacher should not forget to rub the board before leaving the class.


I still can't believe that I was treated to effusive praise by my classmates and a complacent look from AR (which, as far as I know her, is a good sign). I was still sweating from sheer nervousness.

Teaching in a school isn't half as easy as one thinks.

Well, at least, in your one month of practice teaching, when your lesson plan has to be submitted (you may consult only the text and your teaching aids while actually teaching) to the teacher sitting in the last row, observing you (ready to pounce on you, more likely) and the students know you're a temporary phase (and therefore get ready for all sorts of 'Sound of Music'-like pranks).

God save me.

No comments:


Blog Widget by LinkWithin