Monday, June 11, 2007


I am in such a foul mood. I had a teaching observation this morning and it was terrible.

I've always thought that getting criticism on your teaching is much more personal than being criticised on a piece of work you've produced. I think it's more akin to an actor getting a bad review.

Everything seemed to go so well. Everyone attended and most arrived before the starting time. I had a progression of interesting activities planned and everyone was engaged throughout. Everyone was able to do things at the end that they couldn't do before. And they felt great about what they had acheived.

I'm so proud of the way I manage to make this particular class work. There is a 65 year age gap between the oldest and youngest students. Some have been in London over 35 years and others less than 2. One has university education and others only primary school.

Three students are over 75 and we have issues with mobility, memory, sight and hearing. Another student has a physical disability which makes writing difficult. But everyone seems to learn and enjoy themselves.

So when I got to the end of the lesson I was expecting some praise first and then a bit of constructive criticism. I've had enough observations before to know how these things should work.

Instead, I had half an hour of criticism of every aspect of the lesson:

- Your lesson was like an open learning session which wanted to be a real lesson but didn't make it

- You shouldn't be teaching such a beginner class to break words into syllables (they did it didn't they?)

- And if you insist on doing so, you should call them parts of the word (instead of saying both as I did?)

- You should move around the class more and correct students from behind (yeah cos that's so reassuring)

- You should introduce mingling activities and make the learners move around the class more (yeah cos old people love that)

If I went on, it would be very boring. After picking apart every aspect of the lesson she said 'If you changed all that you would turn what was a faaiirly good lesson into a very good lesson. Oh thank you.


Anyway, Shekerim texted last night to ask if I want to see Water with her at Notting Hill Gate tonight. I was delighted because it's usually me trying (and failing) to convince other people to see a Hindi film.

I've been waiting for the last part of Deepa Mehta's trilogy for years and was in India when the protests stopped her from filming Water in Varanasi.

And I'm just in time to talk about it tomorrow with special friends visiting from Hong Kong. I have a day off to hang out with them!

So I should recover :)


Jean said...

Oh don't be down. You're one of the most passionate teachers I know!

You have tell me all about Water, I have been wanting to see it too for ages. It started to show in Syd cinemas just when I left last yr in Sept. I can't believe how behind Ldn is!

Joe said...

I'm curious about whether you actually know any other teachers hehe...

Shekerim loved Water and sobbed throughout. I liked it but not nearly as much as Earth.

I'm going to buy Earth and have a showing at home if you're interested :)

Jean said...

Hey I know a total of three friends back home who are teachers. Actually they are all pretty passionate. But I would still rank you as No 1.

Oooh showing Earth at home? Yes please!

Cal said...

Hmm, can you give an observation on the observer? Sounds like their bosses should need to get some feedback - that's a terrible way to approach critiqueing anyone. Completely unhelpful.

Iqbal Khaldun said...

I found Water quite moving, but yeah Earth was better. Although both have hot heroines hehe.

Well done on the class. Whoever made those criticisms of your teaching is a knobhead. Hate petty people like that.

Joe said...

Jean, I bought Earth today for 7 pounds! So we can set a night as soon as Shekerim returns from Sweden.

Cal, I explained the whole thing to my boss. My colleague has had a clash with the same lady in the past so I had a lot of sympathy.

I know the person who is the observer's boss and she will probably ask me about the observation at some point.

Thanks Mus! I knew there was a word I was searching for!

pip said...

hey Joe-
Can you give me your top 6 or so Bollywood must-see DVDs. I'm really behind but am in HK at the moment so have the chance to stock up with R&S's help.

Joe said...

Ooh! How exciting! Will email you :)