This is the final post in my reflective practice withdrawal series. It will focus on creating action plans for the different issues brought up from my descriptions and analysis‘ noted in the first and second posts of the #RPW series.
Action plans focus on creating SMART goals (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time bound).
***In the interest of saving time and space I will directly discuss my action plans. A quick look back at the previous posts will help the reader make sense of where these plans are coming from.
1) In dealing with Korean students it is important to remember the cultural baggage (for lack of a better term) that each bring into the classroom. This baggage can serve to better unite the class as a whole if understood and dealt with appropriately.
In future I will seek to more quickly learn about my students. Not only will I learn their names, but also focus on their ages and their background in English. I will more frequently change and adjust pairing and groupings. I will put more emphasis on the idea that we learn together and that each student’s input is as valuable as another’s. I believe that this will help students see each other as equals within the classroom and develop a healthy rapport that will create more numerous opportunities for students to learn from each other.
2) Allowing my LI students to create goals that weren’t SMART has given them an out in taking responsibility for their learning.
In the future I will make sure that each student, regardless of level, has a directed and understood SMART goal set for themselves at the beginning of the course. By doing this I believe every student will be able to better acknowledge their own learning. In addition, I (the teacher) will have a better chance at appropriately assessing each students needs and progress as the course progresses.
3) Student attendance in an optional class is not something that I can enforce. That doesn’t mean that I can’t do a better job at knitting together each students learning.
To help mitigate this factor I will take better notes of each class and make special mention of who missed what. Upon their return I will do more to help those students “catch up” by recycling more of the language covered in previous classes. I will also make sure to pair/group these students with others who have had more regular attendance. In doing so I hope that the students will better learn from each other. In addition, they will be better placed in understanding the class aims and my methods for reaching those aims.
4) Some LI students have struggled to retain knowledge learned in previous sessions. My action plan from 3 should serve to assist in amending this issue.
In addition, I will come to class with smaller goals for each lesson. I will have additional material prepared if the original aims aren’t adventurous enough. By doing this I will give better structure to my lessons and better scaffold students learning.
5) Ditto action plan for number 4.
6) In working with a number of low level students I have allowed myself to focus on getting any production I can. I have failed in my analysis of students who have greater fluency but contain numerous errors in their production.
I will give more thought to noticing tasks. I will spend an appropriate amount of time throughout the course on helping students of all levels in the class improve in noticing errors and mistakes in their production as well as those of their peers. With greater emphasis on this aspect of learning I hope that students will see a chance to better learn from each other. I also hope that students will be able to better learn to produce effectively when they leave the classroom.
7) I have allowed my opinion of what LI means to affect how I approach the LI class. This has led to setting unrealistic lesson goals, disjointed lessons and a lack of general scaffolding.
As mentioned previously, I believe “biting off less ” material for each lesson will help me in building up to the greater freedom students in LI want, but without leaving them grasping for meaning, intent or the aim of a task.
8) My LI class suffers from my disjointed approach and a lack of face time with me.
To the best of my ability I will work to better connect material covered in class from one day to another. I will give greater focus to specific language points that I want students to work on. By giving students a better base from which to jump off of I believe that they will more actively attempt to leave their comfort zone and engage with the emergent language covered in class.
9) I will set lesson goals more realistically by directing my lesson goals to a greater degree. I will have a framework from which to expand for when the class is ready to do so. In addition, I will better assess possible stumbling blocks when making lesson goals.
10) Ditto action plan for number 9.
11) The issue of sporadic attendance was covered in number 3.
12) Free time can be a wonderfully free and active way to warm up students “English brain”, create better class unity and provide the teacher with a better understanding of who their students are.
As the teacher, I need to remember that each student deserves a fair share of my time and attention. I will not allow one, or a couple of, students to monopolize my time. I will remember one fact from each interaction with different pairs/groups and note it for reference in the following class.
I believe this will greatly improve my ability to assess students needs, and understand them and their reasons for being in class. I also hope that it will demonstrate my sincere desire to see each and every student achieve their goals.
13) With classes that meet less frequently and/or when students attendance is more sporadic it is important to spend an appropriate amount of time on class and lesson goals.
I will devote time to the class goals until the students understand, regardless of how long it takes. I will work to keep my experience with one class separate from my decision making with another.
With better understanding of these goals students will better understand the methods and aims of the course. In addition, they will have a better grasp how they are progressing in reaching those ends.
14) Complete freedom RE the curriculum is a blessing and a curse. It has given me the freedom to take the class at the speed I believe is optimal for the students. However, it has also allowed me the latitude to run off course.
Curriculum development is a definite weak spot in my practice. I have only taught for 3 years and have been more interested in focusing on my practice. This has stemmed from the restrictive nature of the positions I have held.
I will attend graduate school and place special emphasis in remedying this fact. In addition, I will seek out material to study and learn from of my own volition. I believe increasing my knowledge in this area of teaching will greatly enhance my ability to better serve my students.
And that does it folks. Thanks for following along on this journey with me. It has been enormously helpful to write it all out in far greater detail than I ever do in my personal notes. It has also served to assuage the lack of reflective practice meetings in the Korean vacation months.
As regards the final point, 15, anyone with suggestions on reading material RE curriculum development would be greatly appreciated.