This story is about a pre-service teacher, who has been teaching English for many years and who is not officially employed. She had been tutoring for several years when she finally made up her mind to deepen her knowledge in this field. She applied to the only university that she thought could provide the type of education she was looking for. On the very first day, she felt sure that she had made the right choice. During the first and second semesters, there were various courses on teaching the four skills, language teaching methods, language acquisition, grammar teacher, assessment in classroom and other. In the second half of the semester, the teacher was assigned to do her practicum. Now was the time to implement all the material covered during the courses in real life – in a real class. The practicum was to be done at EEC, which is an English language school for young learners of different levels. Though the teacher had been praying to be sent to a place with adult learners, she put up with her fate quite easily.
The teacher should observe the teacher whose class she would be teaching, for four lessons. She should fill out the observation forms. So, while filling out she was careful to revise from what perspectives the lesson was to be analyzed. When doing this she tried to refresh in her mind the main rules to follow. While observing the class the teacher also noticed that a trio of very smart and hyperactive kids refused to get in contact with other classmates of theirs. Sometimes they could be very noisy, sometimes they felt privileged to do what they wanted just because they had been at the language school for several levels already, compared to many of their classmates, who were a first time EEC students.
The first challenge that the teacher was afraid to face was the class management. So, she should implement a very engaging management technique to keep the hyperactive girls calm. The second phenomenon that the teacher was displeased with, was the fact that the students studied in the same class for a significant period of time, yet they treated each other like complete strangers. The teacher was decisive to do everything to change the atmosphere in class: she needed calm, well-behaved, friendly and supportive students. To achieve her goal she modified a management technique she had seen on the internet. It consisted in calling the rows with a different color name each and writing numbers on small carton circles with the three colors defining the rows. In class, the students needed to come and pick a random circle. Then they were supposed to get the seat that was mentioned on the carton circle.
The student-teacher liked her cooperating teacher and felt she was somewhat lucky to have fallen to that awesome teacher’s class. When the pre-service teacher had to deliver her first activity, the cooperating teacher encouraged her by saying that her activity was a great one. The cooperating teacher also mentioned that the pre-service teacher’s activity choice told a lot about her creativity, thinking style, and intelligence. These words served her inspiration and motivation to do her best. When the student-teacher was conducting the activity, everyone participated, including the cooperating teacher. It went so smoothly and fluently creating an atmosphere of respect and support, that afterwards the student-teacher felt like in seven heaven! Now she felt more confident, now she saw how easily they could get in touch with young learners.
On the first independent lesson, the student teacher was somewhat nervous as a teacher of her was observing her. On the other hand, she could comfort herself by thinking that the supervisor had already looked through her lesson plan and given her some useful advice on how to change it in order to make it work better. Moreover, this was the lesson she would be trying out her management technique with carton circles and rearrangement of students in the classroom. The beginning of the lesson was somewhat noisy, but the student/teacher magically got in contact with students and calmed them down. At the end of the class the pre-service teacher had a feeling of satisfaction and relaxation. Now she knew she could virtually handle the practicum in a very proper way.
The second lesson was again observed by the same teacher, and the pre-service teacher felt secure and calm. She took into account all the constrictive feedback received for the supervisor and did her best to conduct her lesson accordingly. This class was far better than the first one. The students felt more at ease and were quicker to understand what the teacher expected from them. They were more enthusiastic and friendly with each other than the previous time. The class management was at a high level: the students were organized, quick to respond, motivated, and at the same time quiet and well- behaved. The teacher left the class with a sense of achievement.
The third class seemed very stressful to her. The reason was that the observer was a teacher, who was a benchmark for her. She was nervous to do her best. She was sweating in a light shirt, while the supervising and the cooperating teachers were sitting in sweaters and jackets. But the lesson turned out to be a funny and engaging one, which was enjoyable both for the students and for the student/teacher. After the class the pre-service teacher went to hear feedback from her supervisor, which was very important to her. She was surprised to hear more positive than constructive feedback. She was happy, and leaving her supervisor’s office she didn’t even notice the three of her classmates who were waiting for her to work on a project together J.
Finally, it was the time to teach the last lesson. The pre-service teacher thought it would be the easiest one as she had already built good relations with her students, she was already on the flow in the program, and she was already more self-confident after the three classes she had taught. However, she didn’t have time to prepare for it at home. She was panicking the whole day before practicum hour. She haven’t started her lesson plan preparation until past four and needed to be ready by 5:20. Her classmate, who was at her at that time, was also nervous and was doing her best to help this teacher get ready for the class. She helped her print out some handouts, cut them for her, and even bought her a coffee on the way. She said she wanted to come and see her teach that day. The pre-service teacher thought maybe her classmate wanted to see how she could figure out a lesson made in less than 45 minutes. Or she wanted to see if she would be able to make a fluent class out of the activities she had been inventing hastily. Or maybe she wanted to be there to cheer her up, when this teacher would have a total fiasco. But the teacher went inside with her lesson plan and the handouts. She was cold-blooded and ready to experience failure. But she was also hopeful to be a success. When the lesson was over the pre-service teacher’s classmate came up to her and called her the best teacher she had ever seen. She said she had a lot to learn from this teacher. She said she would never believe this was the mishmash lesson prepared half-standing half-sitting in the lab on a broken computer that kept failing. This teacher was not surprised this time. This time she had been able to look at herself from aside. In addition, she was happy about what she had seen. This was a self-reliant, proficient, flexible teacher, who managed the class perfectly (sometimes it was so quiet that the teacher worried what was happening), who kept everyone on task, who improvised most of the lesson and created a nice flow. When coming out of the school, this teacher was happier than even. She felt empowered. She felt self-realized. She felt she had found her mission in life, that of a teacher.
All the way back to her town, she was thinking about her class and smiling. She would never believe she could manage a class of 8-14 year old active Armenian kids in such a way. She would never believe she could make an engaging lesson in a couple of minutes after having a final exam and a poster presentation on the same day. She felt empowered and she felt thankful. She was filled with emotions. She was thankful to her university and faculty, she was thankful to her life for the opportunity to study at that university and have such great teachers, she was thankful to herself that she didn’t give up on teaching when everybody else was urging her to change her profession and choose another, a more profitable profession to master in. She was thankful to the language school administration for the opportunity to teach there and experience being a real teacher…