|Thanks to Besime Erkmen for sharing her research into the idea of a shadowing project at METU NCC in the METU Workshop Festival.|
If you want more background to Besime's research, the findings of which will appear as a chapter in a book about innovations in pre-service teacher education, edited by Steve Mann and Julian Edge, please read on.
Background to the project
The literature on teacher education supports the view that learning to teach begins with the apprentice of observation. There is convincing research evidence that images that are formed during schooling shape student teachers’ beliefs about teaching and learning. Without doubt, exposing trainees to various teaching environments will increase their awareness of the requirements in the profession and fill gaps in their knowledge. However, in our context trainees do not have the opportunity to observe authentic classrooms until they take the Practice Teaching course which is offered in their final year. Besime's study
- addresses the need to introduce pre-service ELT trainees to teacher shadowing day as a gateway to better understand what it is like to be a language teacher.
- describes the context, trainees and the shadowing day program which was introduced in the academic year 2010-2011 as part of Classroom Management course at TEFL Program at Middle East Technical University, Northern Cyprus Campus
- discusses the sustainability of the program: analyse the online survey results (obtained during 2010-2011 and 2011-2012 academic years) which the trainees completed. Additionally, analyse students’ reflective reports on their shadowing experience.
- discusses how other ELT trainees may benefit from the implementation of such a program: It is believed that implementation of such a program will assist and support pre-service teachers or the apprentice in the preparation of becoming a teacher.
In order to familiarize trainees with the teaching and learning experience, shadowing day program was first incorporated into the Classroom Management course in 2010. The aim is to offer the third year students the opportunity to understand the responsibilities of a teacher and become familiar with the skills required in teaching.
- Trainees are randomly paired with an instructor at the School of Foreign Languages METU NCC. They are required to ‘shadow’ an instructor starting from morning till the school ends.
- Before the shadowing day, trainees are asked to write about their expectations about the shadowing experience (this was not asked to the 2010-2011 cohort). On the shadowing day, they are required to observe their instructor in class and later engage in informal conversation with the instructor. At the end of the day, trainees are asked to write reflective reports on their experience.
- Trainees are also required to complete an online survey to evaluate the effectiveness of the program and make suggestions for the improvement of the program.
Based on the preliminary analysis, the program proves to be effective as the trainees stated that they had greatly benefited from the experience and had learnt a lot from their instructors.
- The trainees from the 2010-2011 and 2011-2012 cohort described the experience as “fruitful”, “different”, “exciting”, “necessary” etc.
- Thus, it could be argued that the experience provided them with the opportunity of experiencing the teaching profession in an authentic setting, thus enhancing their understanding of requirements of the teaching profession.