A message to my fulltime English-major education students, who are now having their teaching practicum in schools all over Hong Kong:
Some of you may be facing this dilemma. You want to apply the methodology you have learnt, and design and teach interesting lessons. Your TP school teachers, however, only believe in drilling and cramming. In fact, some of them may tell you that the teaching methods you have learnt are ‘too idealistic’ or ‘impractical’. So, you don’t know what to do.
There are many factors that have led to this common scenario, and I can’t afford the time to discuss the issue in depth here. (But the SCMP letter I posted today on my main FB page is food for thought.) For now, I’ll just say how you should deal with the situation.
First, for the formal lesson observations, try your best to follow the proper methodology. Notwithstanding what they say, these veteran teachers have gone through TP themselves, and so they know what you are expected to do by your TP supervisors.
Then, for the other day-to-day lessons, it depends on how much space they are giving you. My own view is that you should try to make use of as much space as you have, to practise applying the methodology you have learnt, so that they will not be totally different from the observed-and-assessed lessons. Otherwise, the students will have difficulty following your observed lessons when you apply the proper methodology.
Of course, the regular teachers may still want you to do a lot of cramming and drilling. So, it may involve some tactful searching and manoeuvring when you look for opportunities to do meaningful teaching. But if you don’t try, and just go with the flow, you’re not doing justice to your conscience and your youthfulness.
This is also a good time to contemplate two issues. First, why do so many students in HK lose interest in learning English? Second, what kind of teacher do you want to become in the future?