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C RITICAL INCIDENTS INELT INITIAL TEACHERTRAININGEI-320 A NÁLISIS DE LA P RÁCTICA DE LAE NSEÑANZA DEL I NGLÉSF OURTHASSIGNMENT Eduardo Hernández Rangel 21/05/2011
21-5-2011CRITICAL INCIDENTS IN ELT INITIALTEACHER TRAININGIntroductionAccording to the author, “a critical incident is any unplanned event thatoccurs during class”. He appointed out that analyzing critical incidentscould help to discover new knowledge about the teaching and learningprocess. The content of this paper shows how some trainee languageteachers working in a school, analyzing incidents in order to observewhether the incident is critical or not and look for a solution that permits tothem reach their goals.Farrell said that today many education programs include in theircurriculum subject in which the trainee teachers or students learn to thinkcritically, thinking about what is happening, why is happening and whatthey could do to accomplish the objectives. Richards and Farrell (2005) ascited in Farrell(2008) suggested that analyzing critical incidents in a formalmanner inside the classroom are one method that helps the trainee teachersto think what and why happen something in the classroom. This methodpermits to them to discover new knowledge and help them to understandthe causes and possible solutions. There are two phases for reflecting oncritical incidents. These phases are: description and production phase andexplanation phase (Tripp 1993). In the first one, the incident occurs, and itis observed and documented and later is explained in terms of itsimportance. When an incident occurs at first view, it can be normal, butafter an analysis in terms of its significance it becomes critical (Tripp ibid).Farrellappointedoutthatcriticalincidents can be notcritical atfirstsightbutafterananalysis, theybecomecritical. I totallyagreewiththispointof viewbecause in myclassroomhappenmanyincidentsthat areassociatedwiththelearningprocess, but at firstsight I sawthem normal. AfterI reflectaboutthem, I realizedthatthey arereallycriticalbecauseaffecttheteaching and learningprocess. Forexample, twoof mystudents are always late totheclass. This can be atypicalincidentbutafteranalyzingit, Ihaverealizedthatthisaffectthelearningdueto, theyrequire a extraefforttointegrateintotheactivitiesthattheothers are doingwhentheyarrive 1
21-5-2011Case of studyThestudywasreportedbyeighteentraineeteachersenrolled in a Post GraduateDiploma in Education in Singaporewhere Englishisjustonethemultiplelanguages in Singapore. Theteacherswereorganized ingroups of three and assignedthemtosixlessons of 90 minutes in asecondaryschool. Theyhavetokeep a journal as part oftheirworkwheretheyhavetoreflect atleasttwocriticalincidentsapprovedbytheprogram.Theincidentsreportedbythetraineeteacherswereclassifiedintocategoriessuchas languageproficiency, classparticipation, behavior, gender,classroomspace, lessonobjectives, classroomactivities, attentionspans, andadditionalclassassistance.LanguageproficiencyAccordingtoFarrel, one of theteachersreportedthatonestudentcalled HaoTongusedanelectronicdictionaryevery time theteacherspoke.Itwasconstantly and theteacherdiscoveredthatthestudentwasfrom China,and theirclassmatestoldtotheteacherthatthelanguageproficiency ofthestudentwasnotgood. Theteacherreflected inthejournalthatthestudentwasnotparticipating in theactivitiestheothersdid.Thestudentdidnotunderstandtheteacher‟sinstruction, and he feltfrustrated.Theteachertaughtthatthemostimportantthingabouttheincidentwastochangethenegativestudent‟sperceptionaboutthe English.Actually, in myclass, although I didanexam in ordertoknowtheir Englishlevel, and theygotthesameresults, in thespeakingactivities;itisdifferenthowtheyexpressedtheir ideas; some of themliketotalk, and havemore fluency in theirspeaking. Thatis a criticalincident, but I tookadvantageof thisbecause I jointhosewhohave a lowlevelwiththosewhohave abetterlevel. I encouragethemthework in theactivities. Duetointoclassthereisa goodenvironment, they are notafraidtoparticipate. I think in a short timeall of them are goingtohavethesamelevel of speaking. 2
21-5-2011ClassparticipationFarrellsaidthatone of thetraineeteachersreportedthatsomestudents intheclasshad a lack of enthusiasmforperformingan English song. Although,theinstructionsweregiventoallthestudents, some ofthemstoodbehindthedesk, and theydidnotparticipate in theactivity.Accordingtotheteachers, thetwostudentsseemto be shy, and they donotwanttofollowtheactionstheteachersaid.Aftertheteacherconvincedthemtoparticipate and guidethemstepbysteptheystartedperformingtheaction.Theteacherobservedthatthestudentswereenjoyingthesong.In myopinion, herethereisanexample of coaxingstudents inordertofeelincluded in theclass.Theeasywaythattheteacherssometimesdidthis,isbyignoringthestudentsortorequesttheywentout of theclass.Buttheteacherdidwhat a teachersupposesshould do, encouragethestudent „sparticipation. I thinkthere are no badstudents; there are badteachers. WhenI taught in thehighschool (cbtis), Iusedtogooutthestudentswhonotparticipate in theclass, now I amverydifferent, and I liketofostertheclass‟ participationBehaviorTheauthorsaidthatforthesecriticalincidents, thereweretwoforms,whichconsisted in reluctantclass‟ participation and hallo answers in ahostileway. One of theteachersreportedthatduringeachclass, one ofthestudents, beforeanyonewasabletoanswer,shoutouttheanswersovertheothers. Although, theteacherknewitwas amisbehavior. Oddly, theteacherdidnot do anything andarguethatclassroommisbehaviors stop thelearningprocessbutsometimes stopthespontaneity so thatignoringthembytheteacher can causethatothersstudents stop them. In contrast, students canthinkthattheteacherisunableto control thebadbehavior.At thispoint, I completelydisagreewiththeteacherbecauseteachers cancontrol thegroupwithoutstoppingcreativity and spontaneity. In my case, as ateacher, I permitjokes, and otherkinds of misbehaviorsbutnever, 3
21-5-2011neverwithoutdisrespectingtootherstudents. Settingclear rules andlimitsshould be enoughforcontrollingthem, of course,imposingtheteacher‟sauthority.Misbehaviorispresentedwhentheteacherdoesnothavepersonality andthestudentsfeelthattheyhave a “maestro barco”, iftheyfeelthisitisdifficulttocontrol them.ConclusionsUnfortunately, criticalincidents are noteasytorecognizethem, and they arenotwaitingfordiscoveringthem. Teachersshouldcreate a criticalthinking inordertoanalyze and interpretthem in terms of theirmeaningor in terms ofhowtheyaffectthejudgement of theteacherwho describes them.Traineeteacher and expertteachershouldhaveacknowledgedabouttheissues,problems and criticalincidentsthatoccurred in a dailyteacher‟swork.Although, theincidents can be criticalornot, all of themshould be treatedwitha specificimportance; because, they can accumulate andbecomeuncontrolled, later. Reflectingcriticallyonteachingbasedon a formalprocesshelptotheteacherstofindoutsolutionsthatpermitimprovingthelearningand teachingprocess.REFERENCESFarrell, T. S. (2008). Critical incidents in E LT initial teacher training. ELTJournal, 62 (1). 4