Down a reflective rinvoludicrous rabbit hole…

30 Jan

(If you haven’t read the EnglishDroid Rinvolucri interview, read that instead of this!)

Final week of another CELTA course, and not surprisingly, the ol’ mental acuity might be slipping a bit. Time for an inner-grammatical biscuit!

Cookie monsterIf you’ve ever seen a trainee after they finish their final observed lesson, you might be surprised to find out that they aren’t quite as keen to soak up detailed oral feedback from their peers or tutors as in previous lessons.[1] To combat this pandemic, some tutors get creative with the observation tasks, a common one being for the peers observing to draw a picture representing the lesson: a happy meal, something abstract, a train wreck, etc. (thanks Jamie King, Brigid Nugent).

But is this going far enough? Last year, a timid Russian candidate decided that she wasn’t into drawing and instead created her own observation task – selecting what kind of dog breed best represented each candidate’s lesson and why. We had a poodle, a German shepherd, and I think a Labrador – Inspired!

Ugly dog

So for the last couple of courses, for the final day’s lessons, I’ve let trainees create their own equally random observation tasks. To date:

– Blank verse poetry

– Feedback set to Russian lullabies and military marches

– A map

– A flow chart (exciting!)

– Deciding the type of animal the lesson represented

– Deciding the type of food the lesson represented

– Haikus

– Drawing the type of dinosaur the lesson represented

– Drawing the type of crime the lesson represented

Not a massive list, but it’s produced some great feedback. Although, some of it’s been more funny than helpful, there has also been some really aware and insightful justifications for the choices. Granted, the drawing of New Brunswick flooded by a sea of blood and pigs was a bit arbitrary, but never mind. Proof once again that specific tasks and parameters can get the creative juices flowing.

If anyone else out there is dealing with peer observations, let me know if you have any equally random or trainee generated tasks (or conversely if you just think this is a massive waste of time)! I’ll try to start scanning and uploading some of my favourites too to add to the collection.

[1] Should be pointed out, they still get detailed written feedback which I’m sure they cherish and savour later.


4 Responses to “Down a reflective rinvoludicrous rabbit hole…”

  1. Daniel Welsch January 30, 2015 at 12:31 pm #

    Thanks it’s always nice to see a new post on here. And as a proud CELTA graduate, I can tell you I cherish the hell out of that written feedback I got all those years ago.

    By the way, I fully agree that English Droid left us some big shoes to fill… One of my attempts at TEFL humor is here:

  2. Ben Naismith January 30, 2015 at 8:35 pm #

    Yeah, was sad to see it go, but still revisit some of the old posts once in a while. Will check out your link now, cheers!

  3. Sandy Millin January 31, 2015 at 7:57 pm #

    Great ideas Ben 🙂 We had some very entertaining comic strips in the final lesson I did on a course in Leeds last year, and a couple of them were considerably more insightful than previous feedback efforts by the same candidates 😉
    As Daniel said, it’s good to see a post on here again. Vancouver obviously brings out the best in you!

    • Ben Naismith February 2, 2015 at 4:38 am #

      Thanks Sandy! Will definitely add comic strips to my list for future courses. So far, so good in Van – maybe constant rain is conducive to blogging?

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