Chapter 3 - Developing a Philosophy of Teaching
This chapter covered some ideas of teaching philosophy and some historical perspectives over the last couple centuries. It also noted that Musumeci's (1997) work is the only book-length historical treatment of S/FL teaching that is both substantive and up-to-date.
Why are you a teacher of languages (English)? It suits my desired lifestyle and provides a meaningful way to make a living. I like helping students gain the opportunities of education, business, and travel that the English language affords me.
What is the role of the teacher? I believe the role of the teacher is to provide scaffolding to ensure the students can reach a totally autonomous level of learning as quickly as possible. Essentially, I hope that my students won't need me in the future if I do my job correctly.
Chapter 4 - Aspects of Classroom Technique
This chapter focused on different aspects of teaching in a classroom. They included:
The nonverbal aspects were the most interesting. I did not know the technical terms proxemics and kinesics, however, the concepts were familiar. Proxemics is the use of space both in the classroom and between individuals. Kinesics is the use of body posture and eye contact. Voice intonation and volume are obviously important as well and he mentioned the distinction between projecting and shouting which is something I would like to read more on as he noted projection is an easily learned technique in many public speaking classes.
Chapter 5 - Doing the Right Thing: Moral, Ethical, and Political Issues
This chapter discussed a teacher's role in regards to morals and ethics in the classroom. I dislike much of what I read on this topic in education books. In fact the chapter started off with the question, "Is good teaching just efficient or something more?" This "something more" was obviously referring to moral and ethical aspects of teaching.
I am not against morals or ethics, but unless you are teaching very young children who naturally need good role models and guidance, I don't feel educators have any business delving into the topic unless the student desires it. I do think it is mostly about efficiency. A student comes to you in order to speed up the learning process in a particular subject area. Speed that up and get them autonomous and your job is done.
The chapter did make many valid points about responsibility to certain professional codes and even cultural codes when teaching in other countries. I do think if I am teaching in a foreign country I should be willing to adopt their code of ethics while in the classroom. Again, this is simply because I am there being paid to fulfill a certain role (English teacher), not as some cultural ambassador whose duty is to spread American nationalism or ideology. Obviously, respect for specific situations is always in required.
Chapter 6 - Lesson Planning, Improvising, and Reflective Teaching
This chapter basically noted that lesson planning is skill and skills require experience and practice. Teachers will get better at lesson planning by actually lesson planning, not necessarily reading about lesson planning. I agree with this, although having some templates and frameworks to guide you can speed up that process. I also think an apprentice based learning of lesson plans would be useful for new educators where they simply watch and observe experienced educators planning their lessons.
It also noted that leaving space for improvisation was important. I agree 100% with this. I really don't like planning every detail out. I like having an outline and going from there. As long as I know the material, it frees up mental space and allows me to react better to the situation instead of being so controlling and attempting to force the class into some predetermined path it isn't on board with.
Chapter 7 - What (Else) Do You Know?
This chapter focuses on what teachers bring with them into the classroom either because of past experience in a classroom or personal reasons. The author believes that more research should be done by teachers themselves rather than researchers. This is because he does not want a large gap to form between theory and practice. I agree with this. I also think there would be less of a gap if research was simply made more accessible to teachers. It is quite locked away in research libraries and expensive paid-for journals. No one teacher can afford to gain access as of now. I would love to see a change in teacher access to published research.
He does go on to mention three particular theoretical conceptions of L2 learning from Stern, Strevens, and Spolsky. None of these were particularly helpful. They are overly cumbersome and complicated. Using them as a reference point in the classroom would take too much time, even if they are accurate as I'm sure the authors believe.
Chapter 8 - Motivation and ES/FL Teacher's Practice
The author defines motivation as, "the choices people make as to what experiences or goals they will approach or avoid, and the degree of effort they will exert in that respect (my emphasis) (Keller, 1983, p.389)." He then lists Keller's four determinants of motivation:
Chapter 9 - Classroom Management in ES/FL Contexts
The chapter starts out with a definition of order in the classroom. It then goes over the fact that some rules are, in fact, arbitrary and that some control over these rules can be given to students. It then points out that classroom management styles differ depending on context and that teachers must be aware of the context they are located in. Finally, it points out that having clear expectations and structure can greatly help, but that is a form of control in itself.
Chapter 10 - Social Skills and the Classroom Community
The title of this chapter says it all. It basically talks about different relationships in a school environment. It starts off with teacher-student relationships and what I found most valuable was the section of student resistance to learning summarized below.
It then focuses student-student and teacher-teacher relationships noting that many social and communicative skills are required to be successful outside of just teaching material. The field of counseling has a lot of knowledge that teachers can learn from. I would like to begin using the tip of building on what the speaker has said, rather ignoring it in the interest of making my own points. I know that I do this regularly and the author notes that it is particularly common among males.
Chapter 11 - Working Within the System: Institutional Structures and Reflective Teacher Development
This chapter describes the barriers that many teachers face in professional development at their schools. It focuses on a shift in organizational structure and lauds the development of charter schools for their freedom and school autonomy.
One advantage I will have over many other teachers as I continue to develop professionally is that my better half is also going through the same process as I am. She is currently taking a different track, but is involved in a masters of education for curriculum and instruction and receiving her teaching credential. So in that sense, I will always have at least one other member of my professional development "group".
Chapter 12 - Putting It Together and Starting Again: Another Model
This last chapter discusses personal models of ES/FL and portfolio building. This is going to be a huge part of this practicum class I am enrolled in and am excited to begin putting it all together. Parts of a strong portfolio, according to the author, include:
Appendix D - Working with a Cooperating Teacher
This attempts to bring awareness to pros and cons of working with a master teacher. Naturally there are many difficulties that can arise when two busy people are thrown together. It is important to have clear communication and make the master teacher aware of requirements you need to meet as part of your student-teaching. Overall, this was mostly common sense and not particularly valuable.