FLEX is a self-directed CPD scheme run by MMU’s Centre for Excellence in Learning and Teaching (CELT). In my current role at the university I’m going to taking part in FLEX by reflecting on my professional development here on the blog. If you’re interested in finding out more about my teaching practice, read on!
Microteaching Tutorial Observation
30 April 2015
As part of this year’s Unit X Educator project, in which students explore arts education through placements and teaching workshops, students were required to deliver a microteaching session to a group of peers. As part of my research I observed the session and supported unit tutors in offering feedback to students. The session was, coincidentally, timed in the run up to delivery of my own microteaching session as part of CELT’s Teaching and Learning Essentials course, and I was able to draw on my observations of student practice to inform my own work.
Observing this session allowed me to reflect on microteaching as a method for instruction. As Ralph (2014) demonstrates, microteaching has benefits and disadvantages within teaching. Apparent among students taking part was the stress of presenting to peers, which may have distracted from technical aspects of session delivery. The requirement that ‘all participants buy-in’ also presented problems for some groups, where peers were less enthusiastic or more nervous about taking part. Both these disadvantages could be addressed using a technique I observed in CELT’s Learning and Teaching Essentials session (Matthews et al.): the implementation of ground rules for microteaching sessions.
Overall I felt that the controlled setting and potential for self-reflection within microteaching were beneficial to students preparing for their first experience of classroom teaching. Peer evaluation sheets allowed participants to gather ‘real world’ feedback on their performance, to act on straightaway and observing peers’ teaching styles heightened their sense of reflection, asking themselves, ‘is that how I’d approach that?’ or ‘do I respond in that way?’
Attending the session, and observing how students reacted to their first solo teaching experience, was also valuable in shining a light on my own practice, and highlighting what I’m getting right as well as wrong. I was pleased to reflect on how much my confidence has increased in delivery, allowing me to improvise more in sessions, respond more directly to student attitude and deliver to a wider variety of groups, as well as making my sessions more enjoyable for myself and participants.
Reflecting on this confidence I found it hard to pinpoint how I developed my delivery. I am aware of a change in my body language, taking up more space in the classroom, and have greater awareness of the tone and volume of my voice, but I can only conclude these developed through experience. After over a year of teaching workshops I had a ‘click moment’, where I identified the headspace I needed when delivering, and this is the approach I communicate to students, build on your experience, build your confidence through each session, and you’ll come to recognise your own ‘headspace’.
However, I also reflected on things I’m less successful at. My background delivering informal sessions means I rarely consider concrete learning objectives, and even more rarely communicate these during sessions. This was shared by participants in the Educator session, who showed a general vagueness and confusion between learning objectives and learning activities. With this in mind, in defining learning objectives for my own microteaching I’ve followed the advice ‘preced[e] each objective with something like “Students will be able to…”’ (unknown, 2015) and referred to Anderson and Krathwohl’s revision of Bloom’s ‘Taxonomy of Educational Objectives’ (2001) to define the cognitive and knowledge dimensions of the session.
This upcoming microteaching session will be an optimal opportunity for me to ‘take the temperature’ of my practice, and reflect on my next steps in learning and teaching.
Things to do…
- Define clear and specific learning objectives for upcoming microteaching session
- Identify simple, achievable activity to deliver these objectives. Possibly link to bookbinding practice?
- Gather feedback from Unit X students on their experience of microteaching. Is this a useful method to employ in the future?
Ralph, E, 2014. The Effectiveness of Microteaching: Five Years’ Findings. International Journal of Humanities Social Sciences and Education, [Online]. 1/7, 17-28. Available at: http://www.arcjournals.org/pdfs/ijhsse/v1-i7/3.pdf [Accessed 04 June 2015].
Matthews, L, Colclough, D & Holdcroft, C. (2015) ‘Microteaching Experiential’. CELT Learning and Teaching Essentials.
Iowa State University. 2015. A Model of Learning Objectives. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.celt.iastate.edu/teaching-resources/effective-practice/revised-blooms-taxonomy/ [Accessed 04 June 15].
Anderson, L.W. (Ed.), Krathwohl, D.R. (Ed.), Airasian, P.W., Cruikshank, K.A., Mayer, R.E., Pintrich, P.R., Raths, J., & Wittrock, M.C. (2001). A taxonomy for learning, teaching, and assessing: A revision of Bloom’s Taxonomy of Educational Objectives (Complete edition). New York: Longman.
W. , Allen, 1967. Microteaching: A Description. Stanford Teacher Education Program, [Online]. Available at: http://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED019224.pdf [Accessed 04 June 2015].