Sunday, July 16, 2006

Last week, during the 'TEAM' teaching practice lessons, we had another opportunity to film ourselves teaching. For class, our assignment was to evaluate ourselves, using the same sheet and criteria utilized by the TEAM teachers (who were evaluating us).

The lesson I recorded was the continuation of a lesson I had taught the day before, one that asked the students to critically analyze Martin Luther King, Jr.'s last speech, "I've Been to the Mountaintop." The goal was to introduce students to persuasive language by having them encounter what is perhaps the best speech by a man who was the 20th century's best persuasive speaker. The speech is surrounded by an additional shroud of drama and nostalgia considering that King was assassinated the day after giving it. Those of you who know the last paragraph realize how poignantly eerie the speech is, particularly when viewing a video recording of King delivering it.

It's too bad my lesson could not live up to the reading material I had chosen. Though the teacher who witnessed and graded my lesson that day seemed to enjoy it, I had major issues with it after watching the video recording. My delivery is still weak, my lecture time still punctuated with various "um"s, "ah"s, and pregnant pauses. Overall, my oral presentation is so awful because you can see from miles off how under-prepared, nervous, and unconfident I am.

Though all the required parts of the lesson were present - bellwork, set, formal and informal assessments, and closure - I feel as if the lesson did not truly deliver any information. My assessments did not assess what the lesson was supposedly teaching, and though disparate portions of the lesson were related in my own mind, I am sure my students would have had difficulty making connections on their own. The students were not nearly as involved as I had hoped they'd be when lesson planning, and I fear that I have fallen into the trap of designing lesson plans that are, as Ben Guest says, "teacher-centered" instead of "student-centered." The problem is, with English, I don't know how to escape from this trap. Having students work on their own is all fine and good, but I fear that their skill are so weak that they will not be learning anything unless I am beating it into their heads. And there's the rub.

In short: I felt like the students weren’t learning anything, which is a consistent problem with how I view my lessons. Regardless of how much time I spend lesson planning, regardless of how interested my students are or seem, I still fear that they are not learning enough, or anything. Maybe - at least, I hope - this is just my lack of understanding of my students. Maybe I expect to see something, some spark of understanding, that only happens in movies and dreams. There is a huge difference between having students interested and having students learning. Though I can accomplish the former, I fear that I will never achieve the latter.


Blogger LilRoo said...

You've taught me a thing or two over the years :)

10:22 PM  

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