Feedback on the teaching trial – July 2021

Purpose of the teaching trial

The teaching trial is a major component of the selection process of NGPRC. Before they can counsel other teachers, future mentors must demonstrate their own teaching capacities. Their credibility in their future career depends on it.  Because teaching is a complex endeavor, this trial checks multiple dimensions, such as the usage of materials, the teaching strategies, how the candidate monitors students, control his class, manages his time, or plan his lesson, to name just a few.

The main criteria are clarity, content validity, proper usage of teaching material, attitude and the ability to adapt one’s lesson to unexpected events.

 Styles of teaching

For the candidates, the objective of the trial is to demonstrate their best teaching practices. But also, to distinguish themselves from other candidates. All sorts of teaching methods can be used during the exercise. The NGPRC strongly believes that there is a multitude of valid approaches, but that none of them is relevant all the time, for every student, and for every subject. If you teach a physics lesson in grade 12, it will probably not be the same approach as an English lesson in primary school. Inquiry-Based Learning, collaborative learning, role-play, experiments, educational games are just a few of the many options that the candidates can choose for the trial.  But in any case the teaching style should match with the learning objectives of the lesson and be adapted to the intended level.

A word about lecture style

Many candidates have simply done a lecture during the trial. Although this is sometimes a very valid method, for instance to provide solid foundations to the students, it has some serious limitations, in terms of learning outcomes, and doesn’t offer much opportunities to evaluate the general performance of the teacher. It’s a teaching style that is quite relevant when there is a lot of content to pass on, but can be detrimental, when the objective is to develop skills and attitudes. Interactions between the students and the teacher are reduced to a strict minimum. Maintaining student attention is a real challenge, if it is used in a prolonged manner. Remember that the attention span of an audience is limited to a few minutes and must be regularly reset. Last but not least, during a lecture, checking for understanding is a critical problem, if there is no practical activity to be done by the students.

In most cases, during the trial, lecturing was a choice by default, that showed a lack of imagination on the teacher’s side, rather than any mastery of the genre. Unless the candidate has put a lot of efforts in a very high-quality content and masters the rhetorical aspect of the technique, it is not recommended to use it during the trial.

Individual performance

Many candidates have also implemented techniques that they are not familiar with. Copying lesson plans on any platform (even from MoEYS) results in poor performances that cannot fool the exam committee. It is naïve to apply a method just because you think that it is the one that the examiners want to see. As stated above, there is no method that is indisputably better than any other.

In every respect, an authentic lesson is preferable. We strongly recommend the candidates to choose a lesson and a style that they feel comfortable with, i.e. that they have practiced successfully on several occasions.

Besides, it’s a dangerous move in terms of career to enter a program through an illusory performance or by cheating. This would create untenable expectations in the future. Holding a position that we are not competent for is the fastest path to a miserable life.

Lesson planning and material preparation  

The conditions of the exam are quite tight. The time frame is very strict and the classroom unfamiliar. A special attention should be put on the material preparation of the lesson, in terms of lesson planning and material to use. Unfortunately, some candidates didn’t know clearly what they wanted to do. This gave a very bad impression about their commitment and their seriousness.

The teaching trial offers a lot of choice to the candidates. But it also means that they are fully responsible for their own decision and their organization. We are expecting to find autonomous workers, long-life learners and leaders. This might sound like big words, but it starts with the little things that demonstrate professionalism.

Flexibility and confidence

A few candidates showed a lack of flexibility. They stuck to their idea, without considering their surroundings. A good teacher is not just someone who knows a lot or someone who can write a great lesson plan. It’s someone who can adapt his lesson to his audience and who reacts well to the many disruptions, incidents, and all the events that happen in the classroom.

Some candidates might be afraid of the committee members who will mark them. We want to remind them that those members play the roles of students, and should be treated as such during the lesson. The candidates are entitled to give them instructions, to praise them and correct them as they would do with their normal students.