Teaching Reflection: A Critical Incident

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A “prudent understanding of variable situations with a view to what is to be done” (McCarthy, 1984, p.2) encapsulates that moment when a teacher is met with new experiences that need resolving. Teachers are met with acts that define their personalities. While working in Asia I was faced with one such dilemma as two students had complained to my manager that I was rude to them. I had mentioned, after class on the first day of a new term, that they had entered late, ignored me as they walked in across the class and sat down to subsequently talk with friends. Contemplating Asian culture which may ignore this kind of attitude, I still felt the need to deal with it.  What is called a ‘technical rationality’ (Schon, 1983), my reaction, I hoped, was a means to an end by telling them, in not so many words, that I would like them to respect the learning students and the teacher teaching. In this given situation and given they were both adults, who was right as we both had views? For this piece of writing, I would like to like to draw on Gibbs (1988) model of reflection with the hope using the six steps to examine this classroom experience.

This ‘critical incident’ (Flanagon, 1954) emphasizes a direct observation of human behavior to examine the point of myself, the teacher, keeping two students behind after class to talk about their behavior towards the learning process. This is also the ‘concrete example’ (Peters, 1984)where we have to step back and test ourselves. One test is my ‘feelings’ (Gibbs, 1988) towards the students’ attitude of nonchalantly arriving late and traipsing past me. I felt angry as the class had been disturbed, disrespected as a teacher and unsupported by my manager who told me to apologize to them.

Moreover, to ‘evaluate’ (Gibbs, 1988), the third stage of Gibbs’ model, which highlights the good and bad, is first to say that I chose a quiet moment to explain myself; this being after class. The bad would be the students’ reaction to a situation they felt was not to be worried so much about which in Asian culture may have made them lose face.  So, to make sense of the situation and ‘analyze’ (Gibbs, 1988) it, I was left feeling that I was in the wrong. My manager was now telling me to apologize and forget about it although he was driven by the Asian culture and business ethics of the customer is always right and do not say anything bad.

The “conclusion” (Gibbs, 1988) is to highlight and reflect on what more could I have done, seeing as I had to apologize (or jeopardise my job). Culture was an issue, but also I think attitudes to lateness of another teacher to which they had had the previous term. My ‘action plan’ (Gibbs, 1988) is now to see if the situation arose again what I would do. Of course, there are reasons for being late, and also for reactions to bad things said about someone. Culturally, I was too abrupt and too serious. Finally, laughter and a smile work in Asian culture and also getting the students’ personal feelings as to the right behavior instead of pushing my personally held beliefs.

(554 Words)


Peter Scales, 2008. Teaching in the Lifelong Learning Sector. 1 Edition. Open University Press.

Geoff Petty, 2009. Teaching Today: A Practical Guide. 4 Edition. Nelson Thornes.

Yvonne Hillier, 2005. Reflective Teaching in Further and Adult Education. 2 Edition. Continuum.

Andrew Armitage, 2011. Developing Professional Practice, 14-19. Edition. Longman/Pearson.


The Teaching of Melody

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I feel aspects of melody in language are important to me in teaching English, as this is one of the issues that have been salient in teaching. By melody, I mean the fluency of your speech highlighting that transformation of the quality of the teacher’s voice adding grace to the student’s self-expression, thus helping them to convey meaning on a higher plane. This upholds a belief of mine because I feel as though making your voice clear and giving your voice that purposeful sound and intonation makes your expressions interesting to listen to. I think that these clear utterances add to your lesson and bring the students more in touch with you.

For the students, I think melody is one of the hardest aspects to grasp that incorporates intonation, stress, and rhythm. As a teacher, you and the students have to be aware that the improvement of their  expressions is the result of endeavored attempts at a likeness to natural English. I relate to this because in one post lesson reflection I recognised that I was modeling, and a model for, the English language for the students. Now, if that melody is lost, as I reflected upon, trying to give clear instructions slowly and with unconnected speech, the students will end up speaking the same slow way which is not the melody of English. It is not only the fact of having a natural voice in class, but also that melody can be achieved by incorporating into one’s teaching precise techniques designed to facilitate learning of melody of the target language creatively.

There are implications for the students, which is what the main point of this reflective writing, and that is the students come to the teacher already being equipped with the capacity to work on themselves. You could say they are like a sponge soaking up all that you say and if you are the teacher they will follow you. This is where your teaching direction is so important and that is to teach them the correct and normal melody of speech. They will change their utterance to your melody because you are teaching them.

To conclude with something I have learned from this reflection is that you are an advert for the promotion of English language. Learners are looking at you to better their language and this means using the right tone, stress, intonation and rhythm. This melody your students will be using in the outside world, and you as the teacher certainly wouldn’t like your students to be misunderstood and frowned upon.

(425 Words)