I challenge myself

So I’ve set myself a challenge. Making time to keep track is going to be the only real issue. My challenge is, namely, that I will simply post a type of teaching diary from week to week. I’ll keep track of all the various classes I’ve given, any unusual events, things that did or did not go according to plan. Why? Well for various reasons: a) I’m always telling my students to reflect on their lessons and, although I reflect on mine, it’s been a long time since I’ve actually written it down; b) I’m going to be changing things round quite a bit with the new cohort. Now I regularly revamp my classes depending on the latest (research) insights and what went well with the last group and what I expect would suit the new group, but now I’m going to be making a more radical change; c) I’m hoping to get feedback from anyone willing to take the time to read through this and give their advice – anything welcome.

So I think I should start by explaining what I do, what the various constraints are, what the obligations are etc and I’ll try to be as succinct as possible (please note, it’s a fairly complex situation I’m trying to simplify, so bare with me!):

  • I teach the MEd course at the Radboud University of Nijmegen, the Netherlands
  • My students come to me with a MA in English or American Studies
  • My students generally have an excellent level of English (across the skills)
  • The course lasts 1 year
  • Monday is spent at the university, the rest of the week on study or placement whereby they spend 10 to 12 hours teaching.
  • After six months the students actually take over the classes entirely from their mentor (10 – 12 hours), which means all the lessons, testing, grading, parents’ evenings etc etc
  • The students get classes in general MFL didactics, subject-specific didactics, pedagogy, speech therapy, research methodology etc. My part is the subject-specific (English) didactics.

I see my English students for a total of 13 classes (I see them as a larger group together with the other MFL for various other things such as research supervision, but only 13 for didactics). The timetable is fairly strict as regards what is ‘taught’ when (e.g. CLT, grammar, vocab, speaking skills) and what literature the students have to read. But the ‘how’ of the teaching is what I’m going to change. Generally I use powerpoint or prezi to prepare, and try to introduce various work forms, discussions etc during the class. Each class lasts from 8.45 – 10.30 with a short break somewhere in the middle and I tend to be in a room with access to a beamer and whiteboard. The rooms are very plain but the desks and chairs are at least not pinned down!

The new group arrives on January 30th (my birthday!) and have an introduction day. In the evening we have a meeting with all the school mentors so it’s going to be a long, intensive day and I will NOT be posting on that day!

NB: The September group (we have two starting points, September and February) start their classes a week later having had the month of January to complete various essays and exams. (We spend January and July marking essays and MA theses.)

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