I was worried that Tony Gurr might not have been pleased with the lesson I had taught, but it turned out to be just the opposite.
He protested especially against my statement “I feel it lacked flavour”. When he asked me to clarify what I meant by that, I said “I didn’t bother to create a proper context for the start”. Then he kindly stated “It was not necessary because you had something else in mind as it was revealed”.
Hearing what he said gave me relief, and we began to discuss the questions he always poses for every teacher to reflect on their experience.
The key question among the others Tony Gurr asks is “How can you know if students achieved what was expected from them?”. My response to that one was “They produced correct utterances at the end, and so I know that they learned”. He agreed with me, and I got more confident readier to reflect further.
Another question of Tony Gurr I find very useful is “How much of learning do you think resulted from a. students’ listening to the teacher b. students’ working in co-operation c. students’ reflecting and discovering?”. I, without hesitation, responded to that “20 % for a, and 40 % for each of the other two”. Tony agreed with me on that, too.
This being the case, I understood I had managed to put students in the centre of the lesson, and I began to see that a little bit of diversion from the CELTA way would not harm anyone. In fact, it was not a diversion at all because I had taught my lesson based on the Test-Teach-Test principle which I got to know about during the CELTA course.
However, the feedback session with Tony Gurr was not about only what I had done but also about what I could have done. For instance, he suggested I could have the students sit in groups of three or four throughout the whole lesson. The rationale behind it was to reduce the space I occupied in the classroom, and Tony clearly thought that it would erase the teacher’s image as the authority, which above all would add the flavour that I believed my lesson had lacked.
Also, Tony suggested I could let the students read the instructions themselves, do the activity as they understood and share it with their friends. I think that is a wonderful technique to use because I usually forget to check students’ understanding of the instructions as dictated by the CELTA tutors. What is more, students will be given more responsibility for their own learning if Tony’s advice is taken.
Apart from all that we discussed regarding my lesson, I asked Tony for advice related to professional development, and he kindly shared his opinion helping me put aside my worries and see things more clearly. I must also mention the coffee that was Tony’s treat!
In summary, I had my first observation in the post-CELTA era, and it was a success. I feel every observation session teaches me more, and seeing myself in action on the video allows me the chance to reflect better on my own practice. Needless to say, it is always good to know that Tony Gurr is around any time I may need consultancy.