Micro-teaching is a simulated classroom situation, in which a teacher teaches, and the students that make the class are either imaginary, or represented by other sets of people. The students that a teacher doing micro-teaching teaches, may be composed of teachers, a selection of students, members of a particular class, or a combination of any of the above mentioned. It is aimed at knowing the ability of a person to impart knowledge on others. This is only done for those seeking to teach in non-public schools, as it is not convenient to be done when recruiting teachers for public schools. This seems to be the most important part of a teacher’s interview (for non-public schools), as it is the most deciding factor, in considering the suitability of a candidate for employment to teach.
Choosing the Topic
While the topic to be taught during the micro-teaching is given by the school to the prospective teacher sometimes, at other times, he/she is allowed to choose any topic from his/her subject area. In the case of the latter, one has to be wise and careful in choosing what topic to take. Certain things must guide your choice if you are lucky to have this kind of opportunity. Firstly, choose a topic you know very well and are very confident in and comfortable with. Certainly, no one knows all topics in his/her field equally. Then, the chosen topic should be an easy one. This is to enable you put your thoughts together easily and quickly, since you are not going to get the normal time a regular teacher will get to prepare for a lesson. Another factor to consider is that it should be a topic that is easy to understand. You are just about to be tested on your ability to make people know and understand things that they hitherto did not. This, they will judge by your ability to make your micro-teaching students, some of whom are the judges (and some of whom are unfamiliar with some things you may refer to, since the simulated students are sometimes from all works of life), to understand your lesson. So take a topic whose contents will not be difficult for people, even ‘novices’ to grasp. One more last thing to consider: that the topic should be easy to understand does not mean it should be one that is too plain. It should contain trilling and fascinating points that are like eye openers. Avoid topics where highlights can be hardly pin-pointed.
A teacher is sure of the veracity of what he/she is teaching and so teaches with confidence. Students will have difficulty accepting what their teachers say or teach if this is not done with confidence. Such a teacher will even lose control of the class. Your interviewers want to see confidence in you as you teach. Articulate yourself, and when they signal you to start, take about three seconds gazing at the class before you utter your first statement. Indicators that you are afraid are a trembling voice, lack of eye contact, fidgeting et cetera. So maintain a firm voice, maintain sustained eye contact with people at every sides of the class at various points, keep calm, and talk gently, not hastily.
Your grammar cannot be taken for granted because your ability to communicate the knowledge you have to your students depends largely on your verbal communicating skills. Non-verbal communication is still important, but will be looked at later. If you do not demonstrate a good mastery of the language with which you will communicate; in our own case, the English Language, you are obviously not a candidate for employment. Unfortunately, it is not what you can start leaning the night before your interview. This necessarily means that you have to start polishing your spoken English as early as possible. Also, be audible enough for all in the class to hear you clearly without straining their ears.
Seeing all as Students
During micro-teaching consider all those that are your audience as really your students, irrespective of the fact that teachers, your interviewers, and probably the school principal or administrator are there. This is very important. They are all your students at that moment and nothing more. Sometimes, even the real school students are totally absent as earlier noted. This will give you the right comportment needed during micro-teaching, promote confidence, and will bring out the real picture of you as a teacher. This is very important for the success of the micro-teaching. It will influence your countenance, your gesticulations, your explanations, and your vocabularies. Do not use vocabularies above the level of the students you will meet in a real class situation for the topic you are teaching. Also, take all seated before you as students that are ignorant of that your topic, and explain to them as if they are children who do not know anything about it, and you really want them to know all about it. Do not mind if they already know your topic or have some knowledge about it.
Time management is often a problem during micro-teaching and most people fail in this area. Micro-teaching is meant to prove your teaching ability and this does not consist only in what you know or how you explain it, but also in how you follow the sequential steps of a classroom lesson delivery. The normal procedure or methodology in presenting a classroom lesson must be followed irrespective of time constraint, except the things pointed out specifically below to be skipped.
You manage your time well by keeping all these steps short. Even the content to be delivered shout be brief enough for the time allotted for the micro- teaching. If the time appears to have run so fast than you thought and you have not yet finished your content, skip the rest by telling the class (remember that they are still your students) that you will continue from there in the next class. You may even call a particular day as the next day your subject appears on the timetable, and say you will continue on that day. What I mean is that nothing stops you from saying: “we shall continue this topic and finish it the next time we meet… and that will be on Wednesday according to our timetable”. Thereafter, you can now proceed to the other steps of the teaching procedure. This does not only help you in managing your time or in helping you demonstrate all the steps of the teaching procedure, it also shows your sense of initiative and smartness to your interviewers.
One of the steps in the lesson delivery procedure is the questioning by the students. It is a very important part in the lesson delivery methodology and must never be skipped during micro-teaching. The best you can do is to limit the number of students that may ask questions for the sake of time. I must note here that in actual teaching, such questions which could not be entertained in a particular class should begin the next class, and the students with such questions should be told to note them down against the next class.
So many people get tensed at this section of micro-teaching because this is where your interviewers and even some actual school students pull the legs of the applicants. Just keep calm. It will enable you articulate the issues being raised and thus be able to respond properly. If you have prepared well, you should be able to answer virtually all the questions that could be raised. So tell yourself at the beginning of the question section that “I have the answers to all the reasonable questions that can ever be raised”. With this kind of mentality in you, the confidence and calmness naturally comes to you.
If there are questions that are reasonable but which you do not have the right answers to, be bold and plain enough to say you will make further research and inquiries, and get to them in the next class. While you must prove that you are highly knowledgeable, you must not pretend to be an embodiment of knowledge. No one is, and your interviewers know this. This principle must also be applied in actual teaching because even grown up students know that no one is an embodiment of knowledge.
Lastly, avoid avoidable arguments. Avoid all unnecessary arguments. Resolve cases of arguments and controversies as soon as possible. If it is what does not really matter at all, just do not even engage in it.
Classroom control is very key to achieving the objective of a lesson. The teacher must create an enabling environment for learning to take place. The ability of a prospective teacher to ensure his/her students have a conducive environment to learn is therefore thoroughly evaluated by interviewers. Noise, rowdiness, unnecessary side talks and comments, distractions, et cetera, are to be curtailed. The responsibility lies on the one teaching. So once you start your micro teaching, feel free to, in an appropriate way, tell those who make up your students to desist from anything that is capable of disturbing the conduciveness of your class for learning, once you notice any. You must not be rude in doing this, and the use of discretion if highly emphasized. Some of these sources of distractions are deliberately generated to test you, some just come naturally, but your management of all of these are evaluated.
Classroom Space Management
The classroom is your arena and you are expected to use it fully to your advantage in achieving your set instructional or behavioral objectives. You are expected to utilize the space in the class. By this, it is meant that you should not be stationary in one place. Move about in front of the class as you explain. Do not go to a particular side over and over again while others are never reached by you. Do not face a particular direction too much, to the detriment of the students in the other directions.
When illustrating on the board, stand in such a way that you do not obstruct any student from seeing what you are doing at the board.
This is about non-verbal communication. Teachers are not news casters who talk without demonstration. They use their whole being to pass their message to their students. You are expected to use the various parts of your body to communicate your message as you are speaking. Demonstrate with your hands, body posture, movement, facial expressions, voice tone, and so on and so forth. However, do not be so dramatic thereby distracting your students. You are not a dramatist or comedian.
The use of the board is another important thing because the board is one of the foremost in the list of instructional materials. The board is not only used to copy board summary. It is also used during explanations. The teacher is expected to note certain important things on it as he/she explains the topic. Some things can be demonstrated through quick rough sketches of charts. Detailed charts and diagrams are not to be drawn while teaching as this ought to have been done on a cardboard as instructional aid.
Wipe your board yourself. Never ask students to do that for you because it is your responsibility, not theirs. If your board is wide, the first thing is to divide your board into two or three parts by means of a line or lines drawn from top to the bottom of the board. Do not use broken lines. After partitioning your board, the next thing is to write the date of that day appropriately. The next thing to be written should be the topic, at the appropriate time as you have planed it to be in the course of your lesson delivery. Do not forget to underline the topic if it has been written in lower case, excepting the first latter of each major word. If all letters of the topic have been written in upper case, you must never underline it. As you write on the board while explaining, make sure you write on clean areas so that they can be clearly seen. If there are no such places left, wipe some old things off. Do not economize the board space, and do not over-write on things already written. A fine handwriting is desirable, but if you do not have one, at least make you writings legible. Ensure the letters are bold enough. Those who have never written on the board most times write as if the board is their notebook and they make the letters almost as small as those they write on their notes. Avoid this and make sure they are bold. Again, just because there are no lines on most boards like we have in notes to guide the straightness of what we write, some people write in such a way that gives a sloppy, undulating or a zigzag pattern. Try to write straight as possible.
Routine Classroom Things to Skip
Although one is to demonstrate and follow the normal methodology of delivering a classroom lesson, some aspects of a normal classroom methodology are to be skipped during micro-teaching. Basically we have two: introduction by students and revision of the previous lesson by asking students questions. It would be awkward during micro teaching to ask the students to start introducing themselves to you, when you already have too much to do within a short time. No interviewer expects that from you and you will not even be questioned about failing to do that. What you may do, though not even necessary, is to introduce yourself to the students by mentioning just your full name and the subject you will be teaching them.
Similarly, since there was no previous lesson between you and the students, and considering time factor, there is no room to ask the usual questions based on the previous class as a way of revising the previous lesson before the new one. However, some people would ask the students questions based on the entry behavior of the day’s lesson. There is no problem with this either, in as much as it is kept brief.
The Marking Scheme of Micro-Teaching
A typical scoring or marking scheme of some schools on micro-teaching usually covers the following areas:
- Mastery or knowledge of the topic
- Delivery (following of the methodology of a classroom lesson delivery, and the ability to make others to come to new knowledge)
- Classroom control
- Time management
As you prepare for, and go through the micro-teaching , bear in mind that what is being looked for is not just how much knowledge you have in a particular area, but how much you possess the ability to impact such knowledge to the children of the age range you will be employed to teach. So do not focus on impressing your interviewers on how knowledgeable you are, but on your ability to make others (bearing in mind, the characteristics of those you are going to teach), to know what you know.