A microteaching lesson can be used to find out what works well in a lesson and what can be improved following feedback. Harvard University states “Microteaching is organized practice teaching. The goal is to give instructors confidence, support, and feedback by letting them try out among friends and colleagues a short slice of what they plan to do with their students. Ideally, microteaching sessions take place before the first day of class, and are videotaped for review individually with an experienced teaching consultant.
Microteaching is a quick, efficient, proven, and fun way to help teachers get off to a strong start.” For my microteaching session, I was observed teaching a group of apprentices using oxy fuel cutting techniques. This session started with safety and finished with practical demonstrations and observations. As my lesson was primarily workshop based, a lot of the teaching was demonstrations observations and oral questions and answers.
At the time of my lesson, there were no classrooms available for the safety video I usually use as an introduction so I therefore had to adapt my lesson to suit the learning needs of the apprentices.
Firstly, the usual lesson I would carry out would be completed over two days covering every aspect of oxy fuel cutting. As the group I was teaching had already completed manual handling of cylinders, I could remove sections of the lesson. I would also teach up to twelve learners, however during this lesson I only had four learners. This allowed me to shorten the lesson further.
This was ideal because two members of the group have a small concentration span and benefitted more from a smaller shorter lesson. One leaner had previous experience of oxy fuel cutting from college so I had to assess his ability, knowledge and understanding along the way. I had to be prepared to offer this learner more work to meet his needs. Partner work was used in which I chose the pairs in relation to their ability and understanding, and set them small tasks to encourage good working relationships.
Instead of watching a video and power point in a classroom, the lesson had to be carried out in a workshop environment. This had both a negative and positive affect on my learners. One learner in particular always struggles to learn in the classroom as he is very easily distracted and is best suited in the workshop. He seemed to learn more from this adaption as he needs to be kept busy and occupied at all times. Another learner in the group bounces off this learner’s behaviour so with all learners occupied and busy, the second learner was also occupied and well behaved which encouraged him to work and learn. There were however, aspects on the video which could not be demonstrated in the workshop and could cause confusion between some learners following and working from the hand outs. The hand outs which I used were also used in the workshop for the learners to follow. These hand outs are usually used with a power point presentation but without a classroom, the lesson had to be adapted.
One learner in the group can struggle with the workshop based learning. He has quite a good understanding of the subject and can ask a lot of questions relating to the subject. I adapted the lesson to suit his needs by setting a set of questions for them to research and answer at the end of the lesson using the knowledge and understanding they had and gained, their hand outs and research on the internet. There were also diagrams to label in the hand out which instead of working from the power point presentation, I had them label orally during the lesson to assess their learning. I could expand on the activities completed to embed elements of minimum core easily. Although the research part of the lesson was added due to not having a classroom, I could set research questions in every lesson.
Instead of cutting straight lines with the learners, I could set them a task of marking out and cutting out shapes to dimensions in which the learners would have to allow for the kerf or cutting line. This would encourage the use of maths by working from dimensions and working out simple formulas to find circumferences and cutting widths. I could also incorporate the use of the smart boards to encourage learners to take part in presentations or answering questions. Games could be organised for diagram labelling identifying components and parts of equipment. During the lesson, I constantly gave feedback to the learners by asking questions to ensure they knew and understood what they were learning and acknowledging their answers. During the practical work I would assess their ability of cutting and identify faults with them but highlighting the good points to keep them motivated. The learners would identify and try to correct their faults for the next cut. I would ask the learner what they thought of their work and ask them what they thought they were doing wrong working from fault sheets.
I encouraged the learners to try and cut in a variety of ways to keep them motivated following the same method in giving them feedback. This was done in order to prolong their motivation and to encourage them to assess their own work and improvement so they could see their own individual progression. The questions for research that I set were checked, but not in a formal manner. I ensured the learners knew they were set as tasks rather than a test. I went through the questions with the group as a whole and they all shared their answers to the group. Each learner had an input in answering the questions and a conclusive answer was met. I could develop my lesson further by expanding the length of the lesson slightly to cover more aspects of oxy fuel cutting. More resources could be used in order to embed minimum core more effectively.
Resources such as videos and power points should be used for learners who learn more effectively in a classroom but should also cater for the learners who learn more from demonstrations and observations in the workshop perhaps in the form of more hand outs or other resources such as work or procedure sheets or question and answer sheets. I could also incorporate the use of a smart board as opposed to just using it for power point presentations to include learners in each lesson.
Finally, I need to ensure I keep adapting lessons to meet the learning needs of the learners. Adapting lessons is an important part of teaching as Geoff Petty (page 141) noted “Many teachers develop one or two teaching methods and stick to them. This is a mistake. A variety of methods – as well as increasing student attention and interest – gives you the flexibility to deal with the wide range of challenging and infuriating problems that teachers inevitably encounter. It also helps you deal with the increasing demands of the teacher’s ever-changing role. In modern education, as in evolution, the motto is ‘adapt to survive.”