|Date Added: September 23, 2010 01:29:14 PM|
|Category: Blogs: Blogs Education|
|Microteaching is a scaled-down, simulated teaching encounter designed for the training of both preservice or in-service teachers. It has been used worldwide since its invention at Stanford University in the late 1950s by Dwight W. Allen, Robert Bush, and Kim Romney. Its purpose is to provide teachers with the opportunity for the safe practice of an enlarged cluster of teaching skills while learning how to develop simple, single-concept lessons in any teaching subject. Microteaching helps teachers improve both content and methods of teaching and develop specific teaching skills such as questioning, the use of examples and simple artifacts to make lessons more interesting, effective reinforcement techniques, and introducing and closing lessons effectively. Immediate, focused feedback and encouragement, combined with the opportunity to practice the suggested improvements in the same training session, are the foundations of the microteaching protocol.
Over the years microteaching has taken many forms. Its early configurations were very formal and complex. Real students (typically four or five) were placed in a rotation of teaching stations in a microteaching clinic. Teachers would teach an initial five to ten minute, single element lesson that was critiqued by a supervisor. The teacher would have a brief time to revise the lesson and then reteach the same lesson to a different group. In later years these sessions were videotaped. Videotaping microteaching lessons became the optimal practice because it allowed teachers to view their own performance.
Microteaching soon spread to more than half of the teacher preparation programs in the United States, and to other parts of the world. Though successful, its complexity overwhelmed its effectiveness as a training device and its use declined over the following decades.
The New Microteaching: SimplifiedIn the late 1980s and 1990s microteaching was reinvigorated with a completely new format developed in southern Africa and later in China. Because of the lack of available technology in developing countries, microteaching's format had to be made less technology dependent in order to be useful. Early modifications were made in Malawi, but it was in Namibia and China where microteaching was completely transformed.
Twenty-first-century microteaching increases training effectiveness using an even more scaled-down teaching simulation environment. The new microteaching format was primarily shaped as a response to in-service teacher education needs in Namibia, where the vast majority of teachers were uncertified and there were few resources with which to train them. In China it became part of a national effort to modernize teaching practice. Three important new concepts were incorporated:
1. Self-study groups. Teachers rotate between the roles of teacher and student, building on earlier versions of "peer microteaching." Self-study groups of four or five teachers have become the norm.
2. The 2 + 2 evaluation protocol. In earlier versions of microteaching, rather elaborate observation protocols had been developed to evaluate performance for each teaching skill. In the new microteaching, each new skill is introduced to trainees in varied combinations of face-to-face training sessions, multimedia presentations, and printed materials. These training materials give cued behaviors to watch for and comment on in the accompanying microteaching lesson. After a microteaching lesson is taught, each of the teachers playing a student role provides peer evaluation of the teaching episode using the 2 + 2 protocol–two compliments and two suggestions. Compliments and suggestions are focused on the specific skill being emphasized, but may relate to other aspects of the lesson as well.
3. Peer supervision. Originally the microteaching protocol required the presence of a trained supervisor during each lesson. However, with minimal training the compliments and suggestions of peers can become powerful training forces. Trainees feel empowered by the practice of encouraging them to evaluate the compliments and suggestions they receive from their peers (and supervisors, when present), allowing them the discretion to accept or reject any or all suggestions. On average, about two-thirds of the suggestions are considered worthwhile and suggestions from peers and trained supervisors are about equally valued.
The new, simplified format–widely used in the United States as well as abroad in the early twenty-first century–also makes it easier to incorporate the full, recommended protocol of teaching and reteaching each lesson for each student. The microteaching experience goes well beyond the formal, narrow training agenda.
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