Wednesday 19thDecember, 2018.
This was our first (and dreaded) deadline day for assignment hand-ins at university, despite our course starting almost 3 months before.
For this, we had to plan, execute and evaluate a MicroTeach (MT), and also do an observation of an experienced tutorand reflect on what we learnt, pinpointing some of the teaching methods used.
As far as assignments go, I actually really enjoyed these two! Planning the MicroTeach was something different and a bit of a challenge, but one that I would happily do again. It was nice we were given so much freedom of what to teach within the 30 minute class. We were literally told we could do whatever we wanted, as long as we kept it respectful and achievable within the time limit, and without needing a crazy amount of resources! I think this is why so many people struggled with deciding on a topic. With so much freedom, where do you start? Similar to why lots are finding it difficult to write these reflective blogs. In education we’re told from so young exactly what to do, what to write, and how to do it. Yet now, here we are, being given almost unlimited possibilities and freedom to teach whatever we want (for the MT), and blog however we find easiest about our education or teaching. It’s a difficult thing to allow yourself to be free in education when we’ve been given so many constraints in the past.
Choosing my topic for the MT was quite easy; I wanted to teach a skill that not many others have. A lot were going to teach an introduction to a different language, but I wanted to make mine a little different, focusing on counting from 1-10 in Mandarin, including the hand gestures. I love coming up with ideas and activities to introduce and practice new topics or skills, so the planning and actual doing of the lesson was the fun part for me, and I was quite happy with how it all went. It’s the bit that comes after that I apparently suck at and struggle with. The evaluation.
Throughout the course so far, especially in our last module The Reflective Practitioner, we’ve been bombarded with so many different reflective cycles, all for different purposes and different styles. I’ve drawn each of them out into my notebook (my uni-bible), and looked further into some that suit my style more than others. However, I don’t know how or where to use them?! I feel like I’m looking into them way too much, like, the evaluationstage of the reflective process is just that, a stage, not the whole thing.
When completing the evaluation of my MT, I found myself rambling on for 2 or 3 pages, forcing myself to try and fit this evaluation into the constraints of a reflective model I found in one of my theory books. I got to about 700 words, and I was still just writing about the planning stages of the lesson, our rough word count was supposed to be around the 1000 mark, and I hadn’t even mentioned the actual session yet!
This was, stupidly, only a couple of days before our deadline date, so I was getting myself so stressed and worked up over it. I knew I needed to step back, leave it for a while, come to it again, reading it through, and looking at it with a fresh mind. But, I just didn’t have time for that! My procrastinating self had left the MT evaluation and the Evaluation of an Experienced Tutor to the last few days.
Looking back, I have no idea what I’d been doing between October 1st (our first lecture day at uni), and December 1st. Planning my weekly sessions of ESOL seem to take up most of my “spare” time in the week, and then once the lesson has been taught on a Wednesday, it’s then back to square one, planning again for the following week.
This mad rush leading up to our first deadlines was horrible. I’m not one for getting stressed, but it hit me quite hard this time round, and because it’s something I’m not used to, I didn’t deal with it very well. I was snapping at my boyfriend while we were out doing Christmas shopping, because all that was going through my head was, “I should be at home writing this, and that, oh god and that thing!”, not “Oooh, Sam would like that book, and that candle would be nice for Nana.”There’s nothing worse than being busy elsewhere when you know you have so much to be getting on with.
Once the hand-ins were done, and I’d submitted my 2 assessments (not happy at all with the evaluation of my MT), I told myself something that every person studying tells themselves after deadline day… “I’m not doing that to myself again. I will stay on-top of my work, be better prepared, and DO MORE READING.”
Our Christmas break started on the 21st/22ndDecember and will end on January 7th(Monday). I planned on (notice the wording here) looking through all 7 books I got out the library, the new books I ordered in December, writing at least 2 more blog posts, creating a Scheme of Work for my ESOL sessions, planning at least 2 ESOL classes for the new year, and generally getting everything done so I could start 2019 on top of my work, if not ahead.
Planned. I had planned on doing all this (looking back now it does seem excessive, crazy, and very optimistic). It’s now only a few days before we’re back at uni, currently a week until our next deadline, and what have I done over the festive period?
Well, take your pick of the following images. The answer is the same…
By next week I need to have finished:
- (At least) my 3rdreflective blog (this thing right here)
- Evaluation of my 2ndobservation
- Lesson Plan, PPT, and resources for ESOL Session 10
And ideally, I would have liked to have found a Scheme of Work to use for the next assessment and done some more theory reading. Right now, the only thing I can guarantee I’ll have finished by next week is the Christmas cake sat on my kitchen table…
But no, it’s fine, I can do it, I just need to actually do it. I say this all the time, I use whatever time I give myself. If I allow myself a week to plan a lesson, a week is what it takes. If I give myself a day, or even an afternoon, BAM, it’s done in that timeframe. I’m big into writing lists and to-do’s, and really looking at how I work, and ways in which I can improve myself, I think I need to add time limits onto my tasks. Ones I will force myself to stick to. There are some things, like timings, that are beneficial to constrain yourself with, and others that just aren’t. Other things need a little more flexibility, like my evaluation writing.
It really is something I’m struggling with. I feel like I’m a little out my depth regarding the academic wiring side of this course. I’ve just lost the structure and the style I need for these assessments. One comment that came up a few times from my observation TOP form/rational was: “Do not drift into essay writing. This is essay writing.” I’m not even sure I know what essay writing is anymore!
Although it was a stress getting the work in, I’m really looking forward to getting some proper feedback from my assignments and writing. I may even book in a tutorial to go through it all and clear up some things that I’m obviously getting confused with or mixing up. But that’s something that will have to wait just a little longer.
Right now, I need to focus on writing an evaluation of my 2ndobservation (from my ESOL lessons). I don’t want to get so bogged down with this one, as I did with my MT. Reading back on my MT evaluation (all 2319 words of it…yes, the recommended wordcount was 1000!) I know I did it wrong. I put in too much detail about exactly what happened in the session, and I mean I’m talking step by step here, rather than just what went well, and what didn’t.
My problem is, I write a short evaluation at the end of my lesson plans for each session anyway. But for some reason, I don’t use that for my formal evaluation with assessments. I worry it’s not “academic” enough, whatever that means. I think I’ll try and learn from the MT one, and keep it simpler, and much shorter. I’ll aim to use the same layout of evaluation I do for my normal sessions, because I know that way works for me, so why force myself to do something different? Then all I have to do is add in some theory and references… sounds so bloody simple…
So here I am, at the end of my 3rdreflective blog, and no more are required for my course; however, I really want to try and keep up with doing them every week (or at least once every 2/3 weeks if I’m being realistic).
I’ve missed blogging, and I really do find it so helpful to just tap away at the keys and get everything out my head and onto the web (hence the name – Charlie Parker, From Head to Web).
Writing blogs is something I find beneficial, productive, and enjoyable.
So there’s no excuses. I need to make sure I keep it up, and make time for it, even when I don’t feel like I have any.
Yet another thing to aim for within 2019…
Happy new year folks, I’ll leave you with some quotes!