Reflections

    A Look Back at Micro-Teaching 



As Scarlett O’Hara would say, tomorrow is another day. Thank goodness.   

The obvious first reaction to our micro-teaching activity is one of frustration because of a technical glitch that was distracting and hurt the pacing. I’ve spent the whole semester stretching vis-à-vis technology and worked to prevent technical issues with our document and projection, so this was disappointing. Doing this over, I would still elect to use a PowerPoint introduction — because in a real classroom I think it would create much more interest in an e-pal program and stimulate more ideas than a teacher lecture alone. But I would also check all university-provided equipment in advance, including the clicker. I could have bought one (worth the investment, useful in other settings) or hooked up a mouse. (As an aside, I do think Jessica Chen, who had to deal with this in a live setting, handled the situation well.) 

Apart from technology, I have several questions.  

The first deals with rate of speech. Although we need to help students learn to listen to naturally spoken English, I still think that overseas high school students will not be able to comprehend rapid English and that at times some slowing down, intentional distinctness of speech, simplification of normal vocabulary, and repetition will be necessary. (All of these help with the Chinese ESL students with whom I volunteer.) I had this in mind but do not know whether my rate and choice of words were good for the target students in our activity.    

The second deals with the degree of formality or informality appropriate for a classroom, which will vary by setting. I am not sure what degree of distance between teacher and student would be required in Japan and perhaps was too formal.    

The third deals with class participation. We tried to be realistic about this, based on comments by Akiko Kondo and Lindsey Gradolph that Japanese students generally don’t speak up in class on their own. I deliberately did not ask whether anyone knew what a “pal” was because I would expect no response in a Japanese classroom. But my personal preference would always be to ask for student input. So, without experience in that setting, I’m not sure what would work best. 

Finally: We isolated two parts of this activity. In a real classroom, we would take more time, explaining the project in more detail and asking what questions students had. And it would be freeing as a teacher to worry less and relax more. (Perhaps this comes with practice.) This experience does underscore for me the very real pleasures of working with adult learners who are in community classes because they want to be, who do participate freely, and with whom you can develop friendly relationships without concern.   

In summation, despite some questions over presentation, yes, I would use this type of activity with a real class. I think the writing benefits of an e-pal arrangement would be considerable.