Note: This was the final paper that I submitted for my practicum class. Words and/or phrases in italics are my clarifications or comments.
As part of our curriculum, we are to have our practice teaching in the university. We will be handling minor English classes such as English 014.1 (grammar), English 16.1 (study and thinking skills), and English 27 (term paper writing, business correspondence) which are mostly taken by freshmen and sophomores.
I chose to teach English 16.1, a course on “Study and Thinking Skills” because I think it is easy and fun. By the time I took over the classes I am assigned to they were already discussing on the modes of paragraph development which pretty much is a review of our high school English. I taught the last four modes of writing (paragraph development, actually) namely ‘Cause and Effect’, ‘Definition’, ‘Analogy’, and ‘Non-prose’. Understanding the topics was easy. The challenge for me as a student with less teaching techniques background, was on how to make these students learn and actively participate in a seemingly boring topic (as per my observation of the classes and a statement from one of my senior teachers).
During the pre-teaching, which was the observation period, I observed how passive the students were. It was as if they were just there because they have to and not that they want to. I wanted to change this mindset which was seemingly ideal and unrealistic. Thinking thoroughly of the ways I could make my students interested and take part, I thought of incorporating the lessons in word games and group work. I distributed these activities in my four sessions. Dr. Illana, one of my senior teachers, told me that she admired my word games which she used to do in her classes until Father Balchand (a Jesuit priest. My school is founded and administered by the Society of Jesus here in the Philippines) told her to refrain from doing it. Father Balchand’s point was probably that the students will be more focused on the game instead of the subject matter. Thinking about this, I backed up my activities with an assessment. During the discussion, I would ask them what they learned and explain and clarify them. In their written output, I gave them controlled freedom as to what to write. In so far as their answers are concerned in both assessment methods, they learned something from me.
The teaching experience was fun and interesting. I learned that despite a general course syllabus being followed, teachers have different timeline and techniques in teaching. I also realized that these courses are offered to freshmen and sophomores. Most of them still have a hangover of their high school whose interests and attention lies on socializing and things such as music, computer games, fashion and the like which makes it hard for teachers to keep their attention in a about an hour of class that they may or may not have the slightest interest. The challenge for the teachers is to keep their attention not by force but by making them curious and excited of what she has to teach in class.