January 7, 2013 by gemmalunn
In part 1 I described my first experience of recording a class. This way was very judgmental and time consuming: I recorded two 45 minute classes so I spent over 90 minutes watching and criticizing the recordings! This is not an amount of time most teachers can afford on a regular basis. A few weeks later, whilst taking the Breaking Rules course through iTDi, John Faneslow (JF) highlighted much more efficient and effective ways of analyzing your classroom recordings. One of his many suggestions was to transcribe one short activity or chunk of the class.
‘If you think of the samples of your classes that you transcribe as lines from plays and substitute some alternatives instead of making positive or negative judgments, I think you can make them more meaningful and increase the effectiveness of the communications you have in your classes.’ (JF)
This is ideal for my teaching situation as I repeat a class 6 times over the course of a week so I can record and transcribe one activity and make the improvements for the next 5 classes. I don’t mean to say that I will change every word I say and memorise a script but I can make small changes to the way I ask a question, for example, or the way I give an instruction. These are changes I wouldn’t normally make after the usual reflections where I think about activities or a class as a whole, using the transcription allows me to focus in more detail on specific areas. By making these small changes I can focus on (and hopefully improve) different aspects of my teaching such as starting a lesson or giving instructions.
I transcribed a part of the class where I was explaining a language point; how you can ask someone for a favour. Here are some facts from the transcription:
- I said: 142 words.
- Students said: 15 words
- Students repeated (drilling): 21 words
‘The first time teachers transcribe even 1 page from a class they are shocked when they count the number of words they say in contrast to their students.’ (JF) VERY SHOCKED! Even though I was explaining a language point I still think this is excessive, especially when I look over the transcription and see many unnecessary extra words. At least 41 words could have been omitted and several ‘lines’ re-written to be more meaningful.
Some other points I noticed
- Ss could have worked out a lot of rules (that I explained) for themselves.I believe inductive S centered learning is more effective yet here I demonstrated a very deductive activity.
- Ss are most interested when they are participating – obviously! I noted how the number of students slumping increased the more I talked!
- I didn’t correct student errors when they were giving answers, this is purposeful as I don’t want to deter them or dent their confidence in any way. However, I think recasting is important so all students are exposed to the correct form; but I only did this with 1 out of 4 errors.
All of the above are common knowledge and things I thought I did in my teaching but, as mentioned in part 1, only when I really examined the class did I see the gap between my teaching beliefs and the reality.
John Faneslow suggests that transcribing part of your class shouldn’t be time consuming and can even be used as part of your lesson planning. I think for this to be applied it needs to become part of a weekly routine which is easier said than done! However, what better time to start a new routine than the new year….
Note: Setting up and using a video camera to regularly record classes can be difficult. Nowadays, most phones have decent voice recorders so you can record part of your class with your phone in your pocket; much easier and less intrusive.
You could also put your phone on a table and record students during group work to gather information on student interactions and the language they use when you are not monitoring them.