As a student teacher there is a whole lot to think about. The first thing that goes through most young teachers minds is a fear that they will lose control of the class so keeping on top of things is always high on the priority list. Then we have to think about the learning intentions or the lesson objectives just what is it exactly we want the kids to learn from that lesson. How do we then bring that learning about?

Well we need to tell the kids what we are trying to do and ensure they are given tasks with purpose that allow them to develop the skills or understanding we are looking for.

That sounds great in theory but given that often you will have a mixture of adolescents, not all of whom will share the teacher’s agenda for learning, you can end up with a pretty potent cocktail!

One of the biggest things in teacher training today not just in the USA but across the globe is to create in a young teacher the idea of the reflective practitioner. In other words somebody who at the end of every lesson / block of work / teaching day etc sits back and evaluates their own performance. What worked well with those kids? What didn’t work at all? Probably those categories are pretty easy to pick out but what about the bits in the middle.

The bits that went ok but there probably was a better way. The young teacher who can reflect on these bits and improve their performance is the one destined for greatness in their chosen profession.

It’s not easy though particularly when you consider the amount of things going on in any lesson as we discussed in the first paragraph. This is where Focus can really help and lots of universities are recognising the value of the software in improving the quality of feedback their student teachers can access.

There are a number of ways Focus can be used by tutors. Most obviously when they visit the student teaching they can video the lesson and analyse it themselves to keep a good record of progress. But there are other ways. The lesson can be videoed and sent in for the tutor to analyse or by the student analysing their own performance and then discussing the issues that arise with the tutor. Several universities have recognised that money can be saved by reducing the number of tutor visits but most importantly students get used to this idea of self analysis which in the long term will really make them fantastic teachers if this becomes an integrated part of their practice.

Setting up labs back on campus and analysing micro teaching can really get into very specific detail of areas the lecturer wants to develop or areas of weakness in a group or individual. Really the possibilities are endless but with quality detailed feedback and a willingness to improve, the sky’s the limit!

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