Becoming a Great Chinese Teacher: How to Improve Your Teaching Practices

    Reflection and cooperation are important qualities that enable teachers to identify their problems of teaching and improving their teaching practices in the classroom. As a Chinese teacher, whether novice or experienced, how do you identify and unearth problems in your own teaching? What strategies did you use to improve your practices and become a best-practices language educator in the classroom? Reflective Teaching Reflection is an important quality of a good teacher. It raises teacher’s self-awareness and self-observation of his or her teaching practices. Bailey, Curtis, and Nunan (2001) classify reflective teaching into “reflection-on-action” and “reflection-in-action” (p. 38). The former means reflecting on one’s teaching practices before or after the class, and the latter refers to critically think about teaching while taking actions during the class. For example, using lesson planning and teacher diaries are methods for teachers to demonstrate reflection-on-action, while immediate change of activities or modification of instruction could be examples of reflection-in-action. As a Chinese teacher, you can utilize teacher diary,  peer teacher observation, recording lessons, and student feedback as methods of reflection-on-action to scrutinize issues in your teaching and establish plans for improvement. The following is a template where you can start from to draft your daily/ weekly teaching journal. I used this template for my weekly field journal when I taught at Garces Foundation. You can also incorporate “reflection” into your current lesson plan. Make sure you provide both expression and explanation (“what” and “why” of what happened) in your journal.

Lesson Plan

Self-observation & Identification of Problem(s) (Description of what happened)

Reflection & Analysis

Teacher Action Research Another method for reflective teaching is teacher action research where teacher works as a researcher and experiment in their own actions. One advantage of teacher action research is that it provides a systematic inquiry into your own practice, tailoring to your specific teaching context and aiming at solving your specific questions. The following is a flowchart of the steps in an action research cycle. You can start your own from today and see how your plan works out.   With the understanding of an action research cycle, teachers could start drafting their action plan. The following is an example of an action research plan that I proposed when I was teaching my adult students at Upper Darby School District in Philadelphia. The main focus of my research is the timing of giving corrective feedback when I found myself not correcting my students when they made errors that hindered comprehension. I solved the issue when I started to encourage peer correction, take notes during communicative practices, and provide delayed feedback.

As teachers make progress in their professional development, they can move beyond employing the best approach or method in language teaching recommended by scholars or by other professionals, but theorizing from their own teaching practices to form the best approach or method suitable for their specific teaching context. Through constant reflection and modification of teaching, every teacher has the opportunity to become a great teacher with best practices in their classroom. What did you do to improve your teaching and made strides to move forward in your professional development? References Bailey, K.M., Curtis, A. & Nunan, D. (2001). Pursuing professional development: The self as source. Boston, MA: Heinle. ISBN:083841130-4.


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