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ELT 750 Teacher Cognition in Action WRITING REFLECTIVE JOURNALS Stefan Rathert1. Example of a teacher’s journal entry:Today I gave my class a reading activity which focused on skimming. I gave them anarticle to read called "Study Paints Grim Picture " and asked them to skim through thearticle to identify the social problems mentioned. After a few minutes, I checked theanswers and asked the students to number the paragraphs. They had to find theparagraphs which contain information on each of the social problems. Then I checked theanswers and explained some difficult vocabulary. Then I gave one handout which containedfive paragraphs and another handout which contained five headlines. Students had tomatch them.AfterthoughtsTiming again was a problem. I originally planned to check the answers of the matchingexercise, but there was no time.Less time should have been spent on explaining expressions as it defeated the objective ofmy lesson - skimming.I should have allocated a specific amount of time to practice skimming.I should have opened the lesson with a discussion of social problems so that students couldcompare their answers with what they found in the article. (Richards, J.C. and Lockhardt, C. (1996). Reflective Teaching in Second Language Classroom. New York: CUP, p. 8)
ELT 750 Teacher Cognition in Action WRITING REFLECTIVE JOURNALS Stefan Rathert2. Reflection questions to guide journal entriesQuestions about what happened during a lessonQuestions about your teaching1. What did you set out to teach?2. Were you able to accomplish your goals?3. What teaching materials did you use? How effective were they?4. What techniques did you use?5. What grouping arrangements did you use?6. Was your lesson teacher dominated?7. What kind of teacher-student interaction occurred?8. Did anything amusing or unusual occur?9. Did you have any problems with the lesson?10. Did you do anything differently than usual?11. What kinds of decision making did you employ?12. Did you depart from your lesson plan? If so, why? Did the change make things better or worse?13. What was the main accomplishment of the lesson?14. Which parts of the lesson were most successful?15. Which parts of the lesson were least successful?16. Would you teach the lesson differently if you taught it again?17. Was your philosophy of teaching reflected in the lesson?18. Did you discover anything new about your teaching?19. What changes do you think you should make in your teaching?Questions about the students1. Did you teach all your students today?2. Did students contribute actively to the lesson?3. How did you respond to different students needs?4. Were students challenged by the lesson?5. What do you think students really learned from the lesson?6. What did they like most about the lesson?7. What didnt they respond well to?Questions to ask yourself as a language teacher1. What is the source of my ideas about language teaching?2. Where am I in my professional development?3. How am I developing as a language teacher?4. What are my strengths as a language teacher?5. What are my limitations at present?6. Are there any contradictions in my teaching?7. How can I improve my language teaching?8. How am I helping my students?9. What satisfaction does language teaching give me? (Richards and Lockhardt, 1996, pp. 16-17)
ELT 750 Teacher Cognition in Action WRITING REFLECTIVE JOURNALS Stefan Rathert3. Discussion of a teacher’s journal entries in an action researchTeacher’s DiariesImproving professional competence as a result of reflective practiceThe analysis of my diaries revealed that after implementing a TBL approach to my class,my teaching is improved in four areas. The barrier between me and my studentsdecreased. Secondly, the class became more learning centered, so the motivation oflearners increased. Thirdly, I realized the importance of preparing daily lesson plans inteaching. Finally, as a result of reflection I found the chance to go over the mistakes Imade while I was teaching so as not to repeat them.Better RapportAfter implementing TBL the atmosphere of the classroom changed totally. I felt closer tothe students and I also wanted to take part in some tasks as I found this more enjoyable.All students were in contact with me without any hesitation most probably due to myfriendliness. Willis (1981) refers a good friendly interaction between a teacher and thelearners as rapport (p.188). She also states that when there is rapport, it becomesenjoyable for students and the teacher to study together.Learning-centered ClassroomAfter implementing TBL, the way lessons continued completely changed. Students’participation in the lesson increased as a result of the increase in the number and variety oftasks used in class. In order to carry out the task, students were concentrating on thelesson. They did not find enough time to feel bored. As Willis (1996) puts, “tasks removeteacher domination” (p.18). As a teacher my role was nothing more than a guide whereasmy students’ roles were highly active. As Willis (1996) states, in TBL there arecommunication tasks which give learners chances to be involved in various mentalprocesses and to express themselves.Lesson PlanAs a teacher, my awareness increased for the necessity of preparing daily lesson outlines.After preparing daily lesson outlines, my self-confidence as a teacher increased. Aseverything I was going to cover was ready step by step in a detailed way, I had nothing toworry about. As Waters (1988) states, with the help of a uniform lesson plan, the learningprocess becomes both more shapely and easier. Furthermore, as I spent sufficient time toprepare my lesson plan in a detailed way, I could think of enjoyable pre-task sessions formy students. With the help of these pre-task stages, I had enjoyable starts to every topic.ReflectionIn the light of findings obtained through the researchers diaries, it can be said thatreflective journals make a great contribution to a teacher’s learning. While reading diaries,teachers think critically on their previous experiences and find the chance to evaluate theirbehavior. While going over my diaries in which I recorded my daily impressions of thecourse, I had the chance to identify what I found ineffective so as not to repeat them, andthink of better alternative ways. As Wallace (1991) suggests, in order to find professionalsolutions to problems, teachers recall the relevant knowledge or experience and thus findthe chance to evaluate the problem. At the same time, I had the chance to identify thethings I found helpful and to repeat them in my other classes.(Ruso, N., 2007. The influence of task-based learning on EFL classrooms. Asian EFL Journal, 18. Retrieved April9, 2012 from: http://www.asian-efl-journal.com/pta_February_2007_tr.pdf; highlighted by S.R.)