Wednesday, October 05, 2005

A vision of Apocalypse? A Near-Death Experience? Or a Baptism of Fire?

Whichever way one chooses to look at it, my microteaching session was not a walk in the park. But I think I’m finally ready to face the trauma and blog about it without being committed to a Home in Buangkok for a severe nervous breakdown!

Lesson Plan
The lesson was planned for a half-an-hour Secondary 3 Express class. They would’ve gone through an earlier lesson on the basic concepts like food and nourishment. The lesson was meant to follow up with contemporary patterns of mal-nourishment. In particular, I intended for the class to be able to describe and explain current patterns of mal-nutrition using the concept of food security.

The format of the lesson was designed to be student-centered. Ideally, the students would’ve identified the patterns of mal-nourishment with prompts from me. At the same time, they would’ve practiced some of their map-reading skills. The next part of the lesson was an exercise in Co-operative Learning where the students were split into groups and were given different sets of articles to summarize for subsequent presentation to the rest of the class. I would’ve captured the students’ inputs on the whiteboard and used them to introduce the concept of food security.

After that, I would’ve shown them a photo journal on mal-nourished individuals. The point would’ve been to engage the students emotionally so that they realize they are not merely learning about cold statistics. I would’ve then concluded the lesson by providing a summary of their inputs as well as previewing the next lesson.

Although I thought the Geography of Food was novel and refreshing, the fact that I had scant knowledge of the topic as well as the vague syllabus kinda rocked my boat. The fact that no one else really knew what the topic was about was lil consolation. As a result, I wasn’t really confident delivering that lesson. The lack of confidence translated into excessive hedging – a coupla mins into the lesson, I found myself going ‘uhm’ and ‘right’ a lil too often. My initial lack of confidence and the situations that subsequently emerged only served to derail my lesson from its intended trajectory and I could only watch in dismay as it hurtled towards its ignominious end.

I’m not exactly sure how best to structure this, so I’m just gonna go by broad headings.

Dealing with Students with Color Deficiency
My plan to elicit responses about the contemporary patterns of mal-nutrition fell flat on its face. Not least because the color contrast was so unenlightening! Actually I did consider the fact that the colors may not reproduce so nicely on the projector. But the more I stared at it on my monitor, the more I managed to convince myself that it’ll work out fine. I realize now how misguided my senses were. The solution really is to manage the color scheme in Photoshop or the likes.

The case of the color-blind student took me by surprise. Coupled with the bad color contrast, I really didn’t know what to do short of reading out the legend to the class. Of course, if there’s a known case of color-blindness in class, the solution would be to opt for a more inclusive color scheme.

Fielding Questions
I don’t think I sounded too convincing clarifying some of the concepts. At this point I can only recall the question about mal-nourishment. As for the question about the difference between ‘Unclassified’ and ‘Unknown’, I honestly hadn’t given it much thought before and was ill-equipped to deal with the query, save to promise that I would check it out. Regarding the persistent allegation that Islam was the root of malnutrition in the world, I was eager to quell any racist notions. But I didn’t want the student to walk away thinking his answer wasn’t accepted, as it was an impolite response. Thus I thought the best way was to challenge him for empirical evidence.

Giving Instructions
I can’t recall what instructions I gave for group-work. But evidently my instructions must’ve been rather opaque, as I had to repeat the instructions to the individual groups subsequently.

Time Management
The lesson persisted beyond its intended lifespan of 30 mins. Disruptions aside, the lesson would’ve been more comfortably planned for a 45 mins lesson as that would’ve left more time for questions and for students to complete the readings.

Sending Students to the Sick Bay
I made the decision to send Wenhui to the sick bay and leave the running of the class to the Monitor. The fact that she almost fainted indicated it was serious and I needed to ensure she was sent to the sick bay promptly. I figured should she faint again, at least I would be able to haul her to the sick bay, seeing she’s still within ‘carrying capacity’. I thought that most students would not raise hell while their teacher sends their ailed classmate to the sick bay, especially after witnessing their classmate collapse.

Dealing with Torrential Outpours of Student Affection
I dunno if I should comment on this cos it’s rare to see Geography classes develop into Taiwanese Teen dramas. When Mas first declared her affections for me, I tried to side-step the issue and reiterate the classroom as a place for learning. However, when it became clear that her romantic overtures were not about to cease, I decided to co-opt her into the Shrine of Chris Tay by suggesting that if she was really a ‘fan’, she ought to be more participatory in class. That was a ‘great’ help cos it basically propelled her infatuation to greater heights, eventually culminating into the ‘banner’ she eventually presented.

All in all, the lesson left me feeling somewhat broken and battered. But putting a spin to what Mas said, you may not deliver a lesson but as long as you have love, everything will be fine....Mas...MR TAY U 2! =)