Week Four: Teachers

What was this week’s module about?

This week was focused on a number of different areas, all related to the role of the teacher. We began by looking at scaffolding and emergent language, as well as the role of teacher talk.

What’s that?

It isn’t actually. When you really take the time to analyse what is being said, to whom, and what purpose it serves you start to realise how much influence what you say can have on your students. Scaffolding is a big one, which I explored in relation to our use of questions in the classroom. It used to be said that display questions (where the teacher knows the answer before they ask it) are bad and referential questions (where the answer is unknown) are good. The discussion has now developed into seeing how display questions are used to provide scaffolding

So just questions then? What did you have to do?

Not just questions at all, although a lot of the literature focuses on these. The assignment was based on Steve Walsh’s SETT Framework. This is something teachers can use as part of reflective practice. It involves recording chunks of your teaching and then analysing the teacher talk, matching it into different categories and thinking about the purpose of each individual utterance. I’m sure in the past we’ve all had feedback from observations saying you talk too much (or better that thing where teachers talk to themselves to break the silence). Well, this is what’s missing from that feedback session – when you’re told you talk too much or your instructions aren’t clear, this type of reflective practice is something you can do to address it.

How was it reflecting on your teaching?

Well, I couldn’t (not working at the moment, am I?). Instead I did a rather convoluted assignment analysing and evaluating my assumptions about my teacher talk. We had to do all this in the form of a video, in practice for when we’re discussing and evaluating our teaching with the Trinity assessor at the end of the course.

What was your main takeaway from this week?

When I am back in the classroom, I want to do this assignment again to really analyse my teaching talk. I also want to look further into the use of questions, so this might be part of my research in the new year.

Were there any lows?

Recording videos is time consuming, and you end up focusing more on the quality of the video than on what you are saying in it. Next time I’m going for an audio recording.

What about highlights?

Any concerns I had about the other people on the course not really participating have drifted away. It seems like the study week was really helpful for everyone to take stock and get on track (for me it was, anyway), and now there’s lots of collaboration and interaction going on.

What’s next?

We’re starting a big chunk on phonology, which I’m both excited and nervous about in equal measure. Yep, it’s something I know lots about and feel confident with, but I’m also very aware that I need to be open to learning rather than going in saying ah well this is something I know lots about and feel confident with!