Since teaching quality directly determines students’ academic achievement, school leaders set in place systems and mechanisms to check on teacher performances on a regular basis. This includes monitoring lesson plans, examining study guides, validating test papers, and observing lesson delivery. While these are vital for operational purposes, it does not necessarily enhance teacher competency and improve overall student achievement.
Traditional systems for monitoring teacher performances require hours of paper work and documentation. This is one reason for burnout among teachers and administrators. In the end, teachers and leaders spend significantly more time away from each other, students and parents. More time is spent in front of a computer catching up on paper work for the sake of fulfilling job requirements.
Clearly, this is not what providing a good education means. Excessive paper work tempts teachers to take short-cuts (e.g., lifting lesson plans from internet) and makes it impossible to assess true competency level of teachers. Also, there is no guarantee that a school administrator can successfully monitor quality of teaching solely relying on documentation presented by teachers.
Is there a way to monitor teaching quality and at the same time reduce the amount of time school personnel spend away from each other? In fact there is! It is called Microteaching. This technique is beneficial for one important reason – it is proactive, meaning that it tackles problems in teaching before they adversely affect student learning.
It focuses on positively building teacher competency in safe, non-threatening and mutually beneficial training sessions. Microteaching allows school leaders communicate their vision and expectation of how teaching should be carried out. It serves as an opportunity to train teachers and at the same time engage in quality assurance and control.
Microteaching commonly takes place in teacher training colleges. It should not stop there. It should find its way into schools because it is conducted to boost teacher confidence by providing systematic support and feedback in a highly collegial setting. Teachers meeting in microteaching sessions try out teaching methods, classroom management techniques and assessment procedures in front of their colleagues, who in turn provide constructive criticism for improvement.
This involves collaboratively reviewing lesson plans, observing lesson delivery (either in real time or pre-recorded lesson in actual classroom), reflecting on and creating action plans to promote best practices. Microteaching sessions are usually facilitated by a qualified and experienced teaching consultant and/or school leader. It is said that microteaching is one of the quickest, most efficient, and extremely fun way to help teachers become competent.
How to do it?
Microteaching sessions typically contain three to six (or more) teachers, supervised by an expert in pedagogy. The session begins with everyone watching the recording of a teacher’s lesson delivery in an actual classroom. At the end of the video clip, teachers engage in answering questions like, “What did we see happen? How was the lesson delivered? What was good? What could be improved? How would I do it differently? How were students assessed? How effective was classroom management throughout the lesson?”
Additionally, teachers may reflect on and discuss in detail as to how the lesson was introduced, what was done to help students acquire, extend and apply knowledge/skills, classroom climate throughout lesson delivery and habits of mind developed in students as a result of being exposed to the lesson.
Through microteaching sessions, administrators explicitly communicate what kind of teaching they would like to see take place in the school and review lessons delivered by teachers without subjecting them to anxiety and stress. Teachers learn from each others’ strengths and weaknesses. It is a special time when teachers talk about teaching and learning in an intelligent manner.