Learning to reflect through peer mentoring in a TESOL practicum

Learning to reflect through peer mentoring in a TESOL practicum Abstract In response to calls for changes and reforms to improve the quality of teacher education programmes, reflective practice has attracted wide attention. A variety of innovations in teacher education have been applied in order to encourage pre-service teachers to reflect on their teaching meaningfully and effectively. However, not all of these models appear appropriate for stimulating reflection. This study examined how a peer-mentoring model among pre-service teachers facilitated their reflection on teaching. Albeit with a small sample size, this study shows the merit of a peer-mentoring model as a meaningful way of engaging prospective teachers in reflective practice. This study not only provides critical insights for teacher educators, it also advocates the use of peer mentoring to facilitate reflection on teaching and discussion among pre-service teachers. Introduction The practicum plays a critical role in drawing pre-service teachers into professional practice. However, in the Vietnamese context, the practicum generally requires pre-service teachers to be observed and evaluated by experienced teachers. This model therefore limits pre-service teachers’ opportunities for reflective practice as there are few opportunities for reflection and critical inquiry (Nguyen 2017). It builds on a transmission model of education, which strongly represents the teaching methods adopted in most of East and Southeast Asia, and positions supervising teachers as authority figures (for example Brownrigg 2001). In effect, therefore, this model of the practicum can be seen as ‘a process of transferring knowledge and experience from experienced teachers to pre-service teachers’ (Nguyen ibid.: 12), rather than a process of reflective learning by pre-service teachers themselves. In such situations, a practicum that focuses on individual teaching and on the mentor’s observation and evaluation creates an isolating teaching environment, and implies that teaching can be an isolated activity. Feelings of isolation and anxiety can result in pre-service teachers opting to leave the profession after experiencing a stressful practicum with poor mentoring (Klassen and Durksen 2014). Teachers can self-reflect on their teaching through writing journals or telling self-reflective stories to themselves (Farrell 2015). Whilst these self-reflective models alone may create a sense of isolation, peer mentoring can make a valuable contribution by preparing teachers to participate in critical reflection on teaching with others, thus enhancing their awareness of the pivotal role that collaboration can play in developing their teaching skills. This necessitates the creation of a forum in which pre-service teachers can extend their learning experience by participating in reflective teaching practice. Peer mentoring is referred to as a reciprocal supportive process in which both pre-service teachers play the role of mentor to each other, providing psychosocial and career-enhancing support (Nguyen ibid.). This article reports on some of the findings of a larger research project which explored the effects of a model of peer mentoring on pre-service teachers’ reflection on teaching during an EFL practicum in Vietnam. It is particularly interesting to see how this model impacts on pre-service teacher reflection in a teaching context which emphasizes the hierarchy and harmony of relationships. More specifically, the study sought to answer the research question: To what extent (if any) does EFL pre-service teachers’ participation in a peer-mentoring model impact their reflection on teaching during their practicum? Reflection on teaching Reflection on teaching comprises ‘identifying questions and key elements of a matter that has emerged as significant, then taking one’s thoughts into dialogue with oneself and with others’ (Jay and Johnson 2002: 76). It is classified into three levels: descriptive reflection, comparative reflection, and critical reflection (Jay and Johnson ibid.). While descriptive reflection ‘describes the matter of reflection’, comparative reflection ‘reframe[s] the matter for reflection in light of alternative views’ (Jay and Johnson ibid.: 77). Critical reflection implies making suggestions based on what has been uncovered in descriptive and comparative reflection. Reflection is critically important for teacher learning and development. Through reflection, teachers are provided with opportunities to both self-evaluate their teaching knowledge and practice, and share their professional thinking and practices with others in groups or through peer collaboration. It is evident in TESOL that reflective teaching is beneficial for teachers in various ways such as facilitating their ability to reflect on their work and providing information for them to confidently make decisions and changes (Farrell 2015). However, Gün (2011: 126) claims that teachers ‘are unable to do so effectively unless they are specifically trained in how to reflect’. This raises the issue of getting teachers involved in reflecting upon their teaching which, by extension, will improve their ability to reflect on teaching. Reflective teaching can occur in isolation or in collaboration with others. There is research evidence to suggest that making a systematic report when doing reflection alone is challenging for teachers (Farrell 2001). Collaboration with others, however, can boost reflective capacity, compensate for others’ weaknesses, and further develop others’ strengths (Farrell ibid.). Yet, the reality is that pre-service teachers are often expected to reflect on issues pertinent to their teaching in isolation, where they have no support structures. Creating an environment in which the teacher can undertake reflection on their teaching is of paramount importance because, to date, this practice has not been focused on enough in some TESOL teacher education programmes (Liou 2001). Among a vast range of ways to practise reflective teaching through collaboration, peer mentoring can equip pre-service teachers with emotional support though the creation of a supportive environment. In addition, peer mentoring can facilitate pre-service teachers’ discussion of teaching issues and the sharing of career-related responsibilities. Peer mentoring Peer mentoring has been widely employed as an innovative strategy for teacher development as it is embedded in collaborative reflective practice and the critical inquiry tradition. Nowadays, the important role of reflective practice is becoming increasingly advocated in teacher education. Through continuously examining and re-examining their teaching experience, teachers can learn to develop their teaching practice. Thus, learning to teach is not a transmission process, but a transformation process. Reflective practice has long been recognized as a key aspect of effective teacher learning, though it may be a new practice in the Vietnamese context. Through collaboration with peers in a peer-mentoring model, knowledge is co-constructed. This is because ‘a powerful strategy for fostering reflective action is to engage with another person in a way which encourages talking with, questioning, even confronting, the trusted other, in order to examine planning for teaching, implementing and its evaluation’ (Hatton and Smith 1995: 41). The study Context and participants Although the practicum is a compulsory component of teacher training in Vietnam, it is often only scheduled at the end of pre-service language teacher programmes; thus, opportunities to undertake regular teaching practice are limited in this context. Although the length of the practicum varies from institution to institution, a small number of credits are dedicated to teaching practice in all EFL teacher-training institutions in Vietnam. The practicum at local schools often lasts six to ten weeks. In the current context of research, the university in this study offers a six-week practicum. However, concerns about the length of a practicum are arguably not as important as concerns about the practicum quality. The intervention was implemented with 32 out of 200 EFL pre-service teachers who had finished EFL pedagogy courses in an undergraduate EFL teacher education programme. The participants included 31 females and 1 male, ranging in age from 22 to 24 years old. Their previous teaching experience consisted of working as tutors in private classes for an average of two years. This study took place at a university in Vietnam. Participants were selected on a voluntary basis. When they participated in the current study, participants were undertaking their practicum at a school in a large city in Vietnam. During the practicum, each pre-service teacher observed their mentors’ lessons, prepared lesson plans, and practised teaching. Implementation The peer-mentoring intervention was integrated into the six-week practicum programme. Before the practicum, the participating pre-service teachers attended a peer-mentoring workshop which provided them with peer-mentoring skills related to listening, avoiding conflicts, helping with difficult problems, and giving and receiving feedback. During the practicum, the pre-service EFL teachers worked in pairs in which they alternately worked as mentor and mentee through peer observation and support meetings guided by a peer-observation form (see Appendix 1). Peer observation consisted of three steps: a pre-observation conference, the actual observation, and a post-observation conference, all of which were scheduled at the pre-service teachers’ convenience. In the pre-observation phase, each assigned pair of pre-service teachers provided feedback on lesson plans in order to improve them before teaching. Post-observation discussion was based on an observation sheet and the assigned pairs reflected together upon the strengths and weaknesses of the lessons they had observed. Discussion about these lessons could be arranged for support meetings if there was insufficient time available immediately post-observation. Support meetings occurred weekly and aimed to provide pre-service teachers with opportunities to engage in continual conversations, explorations, and reflections upon their authentic teaching experience. Each pair met for approximately one hour per week to discuss the observed lesson. During the meeting, they also reviewed the completed work, teaching and non-teaching issues, and planned changes for the forthcoming week. Data collection and analysis After the practicum, six focus group interviews were conducted in Vietnamese to avoid language barriers, and audio recorded by the first author. Only extracts related to the impact of peer mentoring on teacher reflection were coded. Inductive coding was independently conducted by both authors which allowed for patterns, themes, and categories to emerge from the data. The themes and categories coded by both authors were compared and discussed to achieve agreement. Findings and discussion As a result of interacting with peers, reflection on teaching practices was a prominent topic mentioned in all focus group interviews (see Appendix 2). What became clear from the findings was how all participants reflected together on the strengths and weaknesses of different aspects of their lessons. Overall, findings were classified into two themes: (1) the impact of observing peers on reflection (31 individual references) and (2) the impact of peer feedback on reflection (29 individual references). Impact of peer observation on reflection In this study, peer observation played a critical role in facilitating a majority of pre-service teachers to reflect on their own teaching. For example, by observing a peer’s lesson, a pre-service teacher could think about how they themselves taught: When observing her, I realised that her lesson was more successful than mine. The reason was that she used more interesting games. (G02-EP04) I always made the mistake of being in a hurry or was afraid of lacking time. However, Tu is different. She taught very slowly and organized all the activities appropriately so that pupils could understand the lesson. I can learn from her. (G03-EP01) The above excerpts provide examples of how observing effective activities in a peer’s lesson can evoke a pre-service teacher’s awareness of the weaknesses in their own lessons. Peer observation reportedly offered pre-service teachers opportunities to look at teaching problems from alternative perspectives. When provided with a chance to see how a peer taught in similar situations, a pre-service teacher could gain additional insights into their own teaching. Apart from being influenced by the successful techniques they acquired from observing their peers’ lessons and from being observed, the pre-service teachers said they could also improve their teaching from observing a peer’s mistakes. As one participant said: My peer’s lesson that I observed was lengthy and unfocused. … When I taught my class, I never made this mistake. I became aware of my teaching methods from observing her lesson. (G03-EP05) Furthermore, being observed and receiving feedback from a peer helped by bringing problems to light that they were otherwise unaware of: I taught at the front of the class, so I did not know what some of my pupils did at the back. However, after observing my lesson, Van reminded me about a group at the back who were always playing cards and I paid more attention to them in the next lesson. (G05-EP03) Overall, our evidence confirms that descriptive and comparative reflection (Jay and Johnson op.cit.) occurred when support structures were in place. The peer-mentoring model was reported to develop collaborative relationships and collaborative reflection. Self-reflection occurred when the pre-service teachers were involved in observing others in practice. It contributed to raising the pre-service teachers’ awareness of a number of issues in their teaching practice and encouraged them to compare their teaching experiences with other peers. This type of comparative reflection may also have encouraged the pre-service teachers to look at their problems from alternative perspectives. This finding aligns with previous studies, which have indicated that pre-service teachers tend to value the peer observation experience (Goodnough, Osmond, Dibbon, Glassman, and Stevens 2009), that is, observing and working with peers contributes to their development as reflective practitioners (Anderson, Barksdale, and Hite 2005). Moreover, when involved in observing a peer’s lesson, pre-service teachers not only compared their own teaching to that of their peers, but also changed their own teaching behaviour and responsibility in light of their peer’s teaching. For example, one participant said that when she saw her peer’s teaching success that resulted from the great care she showed towards her students, she became aware of the importance of communicating and establishing relationships with her own students. Later on, she happily noted that ‘gradually, in class, my [students] seemed more motivated to learn’ (G03-EP01). In addition, the pre-service teachers commented that when they observed their peers’ lessons, they self-evaluated their weaknesses and made improvements by adopting and adapting some class management strategies that they had seen, an area of some concern to novice teachers. The following quotes help illustrate this point: I observed Bich’s lesson. I saw she was very strict. I learnt from her and tried to be strict in my class. (G06-EP04) I saw Thanh use group work for post-speaking activities, which was very interesting. I used it but changed it to pair work activities because I thought my class was too noisy and crowded to be able to do group work. (G01-EP04) It seems that when observing how other pre-service teachers manage student behaviour and having the opportunity to discuss this subsequently, they can reflect upon their own methods of dealing with class misbehaviour. Thus, by observing others, pre-service teachers gained a more in-depth understanding of their teaching, which by extension facilitated critical reflection (Jay and Johnson op.cit.). Impact of peer feedback on reflection Another comment frequently mentioned by the pre-service teachers was that peer feedback encouraged them to engage in more critical reflection on their own practice after each lesson. Group meetings among those who shared the same concerns in their own school context were said to be very helpful in encouraging them to reflect on their practice and unpack any persisting issues. Most of the pre-service teachers claimed that their ability to reflect on their limitations was improved as a result of their peer’s feedback. The following quote was representative of many participants: I was so nervous. I always stood next to friendly students or remained in one place for the whole lesson. Sun observed my lesson and described my physical position in class in a friendly way. I cannot help but laugh and wonder how I can stand like that. (G05-EP01) The pre-service teachers further discovered that without their peers, they had fewer opportunities to evaluate their teaching: ‘to me, [the] peer-observation activity [most useful] because my peer could see my faults [and provide] comment[s] for me’ (G01-EP01). For this reason, the pre-service teachers greatly appreciated the comments they received from their peers. For example, one student considered her peer’s comments as ‘professional’ and able to help her ‘mature’ (G03-EP02). In addition, peer feedback reportedly helped pre-service teachers reflect on their own and develop their teaching practice. Overall, they said that they took action to make changes to their practice thanks to their peer’s feedback. The data showed that pre-service teachers adopted classroom management and instruction strategies based on their peers’ explicit feedback which was provided during the post-observation conference. As one said, ‘I think I can speak more slowly in class as Trang said that my students might not understand what I explained in class’ (G03-EP01). Two other students confirmed this by commenting that their peer provided them with critical comments on both their lesson plans and observed lessons. Underpinning these responses is the critical reflection facilitated by the peers’ feedback, which raised the pre-service teachers’ awareness of their own problems. The pre-service teachers identified the contribution of peer feedback to their more accurate reflection on lessons. They explained that although they always reflected on their own lessons, they could do this job more effectively with peers. One remarked: Without comments from a peer, I cannot reflect on my teaching accurately. I think this was the case. How could we see ourselves when we were teaching in class? My peers could help me with that. (G03-EP01) This was followed by another supporter who reinforced the ideas based on complementary input from others: ‘I agree. Even we can sense how good our lessons were. But with our peers’ feedback, we could evaluate our lesson more accurately’ (G03-EP02). Finally, the two pre-service teachers simply changed their minds: ‘Yes, through peers’ feedback, we could evaluate our lesson more accurately’ (G03-EP05) … ‘I strongly agree’ (G03-EP03). It appears that, in addition to developing novice peer relationships, peer feedback after lesson observation contributed to developing habits of reflection. The above comments echo Richards’ (2008) observation that the focus of reflective practice should be upon re-examining and questioning teaching practice by sharing within the community of practice. Critical reflection therefore might promote positive changes. Kullman (1998: 471–2) notes that: reflection … will lead to a greater awareness among student teachers of what constitutes appropriate pedagogic practice and will lay the foundations for development, a process which will be ongoing throughout their teaching careers. The findings show that pre-service teachers acknowledged the role of peer feedback in the peer-mentoring process. It enabled them to reflect comparatively and critically on their lessons, especially when their peers provided feedback and prompts for reflection using the peer-observation form. Most of these teachers provided feedback to each other using the required form. The form, which centred on the pre-service teachers’ critical reflection, helped shape and reshape their practice in a reflective way. This indicates the need for teacher educators to utilize various forms of feedback to prompt quality-teaching reflection during training programmes. It is worth mentioning that, initially, most of the pre-service teachers felt reluctant to participate in peer observation and to reflect on the lesson afterwards. For example one student said ‘At first, I did as the university supervisor required us. I did not know whether it would be effective. I just followed the requirement’ (G01-EP04). This is understandable in this cultural context; expertise from seniors is always more respected. Thus, it is hard for pre-service teachers to immediately value the benefits of the type of peer interaction outlined in this article. In addition, they may feel hesitant when commenting on a peer’s lesson as they wish to maintain a harmonious relationship with friends (Pham and Renshaw 2015). However, their perspective changed when they no longer felt judged by their peers and, instead, discovered the effectiveness of peer mentoring (for example ‘Later, I came to think it was really effective. I feel like I have a close friend who I can count on’ (G01-EP04)). Many pre-service participants regarded the peers as friends who they could trust so they were willing to be observed and share their opinions of their teaching. The findings suggest creating an open, honest, and supportive environment to facilitate reflection. Therefore, explicit training on how to observe and provide feedback in a peer-mentoring workshop, along with clear guidance, appeared to contribute to promoting the effectiveness of peer observation and then facilitate the reflection process more effectively. In brief, it was generally believed that the peer-mentoring model promoted activities for pre-service teachers to critically reflect on their teaching. Pre-service teachers reported a move from descriptive practice to comparative and critical reflection in the process of discovering the advantages of peer support. It should be noted that through observation and feedback with peers, the pre-service teachers moved beyond describing events to reporting the critical moments such as recognizing their own weaknesses and their teaching problems. Peer mentoring also enabled the pre-service teacher to evaluate both their peer’s and their own teaching practice from multiple perspectives, and to provide suggestions for improvement. The development of reflection at all levels seems to be the result of peer support through which pre-service teachers share their common teaching difficulties and learn from each other. Therefore, when participating in reflection on teaching, teachers are motivated to learn a variety of relevant aspects of teaching and make appropriate changes (Johnson 2009). Conclusion This study emphasized the important role of peer mentoring in promoting reflection on teaching while the pre-service teachers showcase the value of the peer-mentoring model for facilitating their engagement in reflection. There was evidence that peer mentoring not only creates opportunities for pre-service teachers to evaluate their own practice, but also enhances their professional knowledge. Peer mentoring was not only used for sharing, it also served as a tool for reflection on teaching. This finding opens a new line of argument which challenges the core features of the Vietnamese learning culture that is embedded in a hierarchical approach to teacher learning. The study suggests the value of peers as a way of learning and reflection in the context of Vietnam and perhaps other similar Asian countries where learning is considered to be a transmission process. The study puts forward a number of implications for different stakeholders. First, the teaching practicum in Vietnam should be reframed to include the use of peer mentoring in teacher training programmes. This will foster pre-service teachers’ reflection during their practicum. Since pre-service teachers are provided with limited formal support in teacher education programmes, peer mentoring could possibly be one source of support that is also likely to facilitate reflection. Furthermore, the present study’s findings indicate that educators need to consider the pre-service teacher education reforms that peer mentoring may make possible. This study, in line with Liou (op.cit.), calls for creating an environment conducive to reflection on teaching in TESOL teacher education. The peer-mentoring model in this study is offered as a foundation to better prepare prospective teachers and enhance their professional growth. Commitment to observation also needs to be emphasized. This practice requires students to observe their peers at least once a week and this initial requirement of committing to the peer-mentoring intervention, over time, develops into a habit. The findings show the critical role of structured peer-based activities in sustaining peer interaction and improving its quality. Pre-service teachers, who frequently become more dependent on the assistance provided by school mentors, were encouraged to engage in the reflective practice naturally, free from fear of judgement. Furthermore, in order to sustain the role of peer observation and feedback in developing pre-service teachers’ professional practice, pre-service teachers need appropriate tools and time to come together to reflect on what they have observed. The use of peer observation when providing feedback to other pre-service teachers may shape the thinking and reflection for both in the mentoring relationship. Quality reflection among peers is strengthened through guidance tools and a friendly environment. Overall, this study concludes that student teachers need guidance as they grow to meet the challenges of increasingly complex classrooms that require them to become reflective practitioners. As this was a small, purposeful sample, the findings cannot be generalized to the whole population. However, future research may build on this by implementing the model in a cross-country study with a larger sample size. Hoa Thi Mai Nguyen (PhD, The University of Queensland, Australia) is a lecturer in the School of Education, University of New South Wales, Australia. Her research interests are in the areas of teacher development, mentoring, TESOL, and sociocultural theory. She has experience teaching and training pre-service and in-service teachers in Asia and Australia. She currently holds an honorary position at the University of Sydney. Nga Thi Hang Ngo (PhD, The University of Sydney, Australia) is a lecturer in TESOL at Tay Bac University, Vietnam. She has had experience in teaching TESOL and training TESOL pre-service and in-service teachers in Vietnam. Her research interest includes TESOL pedagogy, language and culture, and inclusive education. Email:ngango158@gmail.com References Anderson, N. A., Barksdale M. A., and Hite C. E.. 2005. ‘ Pre-service teachers’ observations of cooperating teachers and peers while participating in an early field experience’. Teacher Education Quarterly  32/ 4: 97– 117. Brownrigg, R. 2001. ‘ From traditional to contemporary in second language teaching’. Teacher’s Edition  5: 4– 7. Farrell, T. S. 2001. ‘ Critical friendships: colleagues helping each other develop’. ELT Journal  55/ 4: 368– 74. 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Google Scholar CrossRef Search ADS   Appendix 1 Peer observation sheet Class: observer’s Teacher’s type of lesson: Name: Date: Time: 1 = very poor; 2 = poor; 3 = average; 4 = good; 5 = excellent  Areas to evaluate    1  2  3  4  5  Comments  1 Preparation                Lesson plan  ☐ Easy to understand and follow ☐ Teacher’s knowledge of teaching method ☐ Teacher’s knowledge of teaching contents ☐ Teacher’s knowledge of students’ level, background knowledge, interest ... ☐ Selecting objectives ☐ Appropriate instructional design              Students’ participation and quality of interaction  ☐ Learners’ participation ☐ Learners’ interest and motivation              Visual aids  ☐ Well-prepared ☐ Use of teaching resources              2 The lesson                Presentation/ explanation, or pre-task  ☐ Start of the lesson with setting the scene ☐ Use of techniques for presenting new language/explaining task ☐ Use of presentation materials in the textbook and supplementary materials, if any ☐ Giving students real purposes for use of language              Practice or while-task and post-task  ☐ Variety of activities which encourage meaningful use of language ☐ Timing ☐ Organizing physical space ☐ Teacher and students’ interaction ☐ Student and students’ interaction              Students’ participation and quality of interaction  ☐ Learners’ participation ☐ Learners’ interest and motivation              Classroom management  ☐ Instructions (say-do-check, step-by-step, etc.) ☐ Oral communication ☐ Written communication ☐ Concept checking/ comprehension checking ☐ Managing classroom procedures ☐ Correction and feedback in due time and given in a constructive way ☐ Able to deal with students’ questions and problems that arise ☐ Work arrangement (individual work, open pair/closed pair work, and group work) ☐ Use of facilities and resources available              Teacher’s manner  ☐ Eye contact ☐ Volume of voice ☐ Friendly and encouraging              Class: observer’s Teacher’s type of lesson: Name: Date: Time: 1 = very poor; 2 = poor; 3 = average; 4 = good; 5 = excellent  Areas to evaluate    1  2  3  4  5  Comments  1 Preparation                Lesson plan  ☐ Easy to understand and follow ☐ Teacher’s knowledge of teaching method ☐ Teacher’s knowledge of teaching contents ☐ Teacher’s knowledge of students’ level, background knowledge, interest ... ☐ Selecting objectives ☐ Appropriate instructional design              Students’ participation and quality of interaction  ☐ Learners’ participation ☐ Learners’ interest and motivation              Visual aids  ☐ Well-prepared ☐ Use of teaching resources              2 The lesson                Presentation/ explanation, or pre-task  ☐ Start of the lesson with setting the scene ☐ Use of techniques for presenting new language/explaining task ☐ Use of presentation materials in the textbook and supplementary materials, if any ☐ Giving students real purposes for use of language              Practice or while-task and post-task  ☐ Variety of activities which encourage meaningful use of language ☐ Timing ☐ Organizing physical space ☐ Teacher and students’ interaction ☐ Student and students’ interaction              Students’ participation and quality of interaction  ☐ Learners’ participation ☐ Learners’ interest and motivation              Classroom management  ☐ Instructions (say-do-check, step-by-step, etc.) ☐ Oral communication ☐ Written communication ☐ Concept checking/ comprehension checking ☐ Managing classroom procedures ☐ Correction and feedback in due time and given in a constructive way ☐ Able to deal with students’ questions and problems that arise ☐ Work arrangement (individual work, open pair/closed pair work, and group work) ☐ Use of facilities and resources available              Teacher’s manner  ☐ Eye contact ☐ Volume of voice ☐ Friendly and encouraging              View Large Class: observer’s Teacher’s type of lesson: Name: Date: Time: 1 = very poor; 2 = poor; 3 = average; 4 = good; 5 = excellent  Areas to evaluate    1  2  3  4  5  Comments  1 Preparation                Lesson plan  ☐ Easy to understand and follow ☐ Teacher’s knowledge of teaching method ☐ Teacher’s knowledge of teaching contents ☐ Teacher’s knowledge of students’ level, background knowledge, interest ... ☐ Selecting objectives ☐ Appropriate instructional design              Students’ participation and quality of interaction  ☐ Learners’ participation ☐ Learners’ interest and motivation              Visual aids  ☐ Well-prepared ☐ Use of teaching resources              2 The lesson                Presentation/ explanation, or pre-task  ☐ Start of the lesson with setting the scene ☐ Use of techniques for presenting new language/explaining task ☐ Use of presentation materials in the textbook and supplementary materials, if any ☐ Giving students real purposes for use of language              Practice or while-task and post-task  ☐ Variety of activities which encourage meaningful use of language ☐ Timing ☐ Organizing physical space ☐ Teacher and students’ interaction ☐ Student and students’ interaction              Students’ participation and quality of interaction  ☐ Learners’ participation ☐ Learners’ interest and motivation              Classroom management  ☐ Instructions (say-do-check, step-by-step, etc.) ☐ Oral communication ☐ Written communication ☐ Concept checking/ comprehension checking ☐ Managing classroom procedures ☐ Correction and feedback in due time and given in a constructive way ☐ Able to deal with students’ questions and problems that arise ☐ Work arrangement (individual work, open pair/closed pair work, and group work) ☐ Use of facilities and resources available              Teacher’s manner  ☐ Eye contact ☐ Volume of voice ☐ Friendly and encouraging              Class: observer’s Teacher’s type of lesson: Name: Date: Time: 1 = very poor; 2 = poor; 3 = average; 4 = good; 5 = excellent  Areas to evaluate    1  2  3  4  5  Comments  1 Preparation                Lesson plan  ☐ Easy to understand and follow ☐ Teacher’s knowledge of teaching method ☐ Teacher’s knowledge of teaching contents ☐ Teacher’s knowledge of students’ level, background knowledge, interest ... ☐ Selecting objectives ☐ Appropriate instructional design              Students’ participation and quality of interaction  ☐ Learners’ participation ☐ Learners’ interest and motivation              Visual aids  ☐ Well-prepared ☐ Use of teaching resources              2 The lesson                Presentation/ explanation, or pre-task  ☐ Start of the lesson with setting the scene ☐ Use of techniques for presenting new language/explaining task ☐ Use of presentation materials in the textbook and supplementary materials, if any ☐ Giving students real purposes for use of language              Practice or while-task and post-task  ☐ Variety of activities which encourage meaningful use of language ☐ Timing ☐ Organizing physical space ☐ Teacher and students’ interaction ☐ Student and students’ interaction              Students’ participation and quality of interaction  ☐ Learners’ participation ☐ Learners’ interest and motivation              Classroom management  ☐ Instructions (say-do-check, step-by-step, etc.) ☐ Oral communication ☐ Written communication ☐ Concept checking/ comprehension checking ☐ Managing classroom procedures ☐ Correction and feedback in due time and given in a constructive way ☐ Able to deal with students’ questions and problems that arise ☐ Work arrangement (individual work, open pair/closed pair work, and group work) ☐ Use of facilities and resources available              Teacher’s manner  ☐ Eye contact ☐ Volume of voice ☐ Friendly and encouraging              View Large General comments (good points): Suggestions (things you—observer—have learnt from this lesson): Please give this sheet to the student teacher you observe ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- This part is written by the observed student teacher As a student teacher: your school mentor teacher and your peers will give you their feedback. Please think about it carefully and evaluate your lesson yourself with the following guiding questions: What are you satisfied with in your lesson? What aren’t you satisfied with in your lesson? What have you learned for the future lesson? What improvements do you want to make to the lesson? Appendix 2 Interview questions 1 Which following components of planning and preparation domain have been improved as a result of working/interacting with your peer(s) through the peer-mentoring process? Please give specific example(s) or evidence that indicate how the working/interacting with your peer(s) through the peer-mentoring process during your practicum helped you make such improvement in the component of classroom environment: Demonstrating knowledge of content and pedagogy Demonstrating knowledge of students Selecting instructional goals Demonstrating knowledge of resources Designing coherent instruction Assessing student learning Others: 2 Which following components of classroom environment domain have been improved as a result of working/interacting with your peer(s) through the peer-mentoring process? Please give specific example(s) or evidence that indicate how working/interacting with your peer(s) through the peer-mentoring process during your practicum helped you make such improvement: Creating an environment of respect and rapport Establishing a culture for learning Managing classroom procedures Managing student behaviour Organizing physical space Others 3 Which following components of instruction domain have been improved as a result of working/interacting with your peer(s) through the peer-mentoring process? Please give specific example(s) or evidence that indicate how the working/interacting with your peer(s) through the peer-mentoring process during your practicum helped you make such improvement: Communicating clearly and accurately Using questioning and discussion Techniques engaging students in learning Providing feedback to students Using formal and informal assessments Demonstrating flexibility and responsiveness Others 4 Which following components of teacher responsibility domain have been improved as a result of working/interacting with your peer(s) through the peer-mentoring process? Please give specific example(s) or evidence that indicate how the working/interacting with your peer(s) through the peer-mentoring process during your practicum helped you make such improvement: Reflecting on teaching Maintaining accurate records Contributing to the school and district Growing and developing professionally Showing professionalism Others © The Author(s) 2017. Published by Oxford University Press; all rights reserved. This article is published and distributed under the terms of the Oxford University Press, Standard Journals Publication Model (https://academic.oup.com/journals/pages/about_us/legal/notices) http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png ELT Journal Oxford University Press

Learning to reflect through peer mentoring in a TESOL practicum

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Oxford University Press
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© The Author(s) 2017. Published by Oxford University Press; all rights reserved.
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0951-0893
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1477-4526
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10.1093/elt/ccx053
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Abstract

Abstract In response to calls for changes and reforms to improve the quality of teacher education programmes, reflective practice has attracted wide attention. A variety of innovations in teacher education have been applied in order to encourage pre-service teachers to reflect on their teaching meaningfully and effectively. However, not all of these models appear appropriate for stimulating reflection. This study examined how a peer-mentoring model among pre-service teachers facilitated their reflection on teaching. Albeit with a small sample size, this study shows the merit of a peer-mentoring model as a meaningful way of engaging prospective teachers in reflective practice. This study not only provides critical insights for teacher educators, it also advocates the use of peer mentoring to facilitate reflection on teaching and discussion among pre-service teachers. Introduction The practicum plays a critical role in drawing pre-service teachers into professional practice. However, in the Vietnamese context, the practicum generally requires pre-service teachers to be observed and evaluated by experienced teachers. This model therefore limits pre-service teachers’ opportunities for reflective practice as there are few opportunities for reflection and critical inquiry (Nguyen 2017). It builds on a transmission model of education, which strongly represents the teaching methods adopted in most of East and Southeast Asia, and positions supervising teachers as authority figures (for example Brownrigg 2001). In effect, therefore, this model of the practicum can be seen as ‘a process of transferring knowledge and experience from experienced teachers to pre-service teachers’ (Nguyen ibid.: 12), rather than a process of reflective learning by pre-service teachers themselves. In such situations, a practicum that focuses on individual teaching and on the mentor’s observation and evaluation creates an isolating teaching environment, and implies that teaching can be an isolated activity. Feelings of isolation and anxiety can result in pre-service teachers opting to leave the profession after experiencing a stressful practicum with poor mentoring (Klassen and Durksen 2014). Teachers can self-reflect on their teaching through writing journals or telling self-reflective stories to themselves (Farrell 2015). Whilst these self-reflective models alone may create a sense of isolation, peer mentoring can make a valuable contribution by preparing teachers to participate in critical reflection on teaching with others, thus enhancing their awareness of the pivotal role that collaboration can play in developing their teaching skills. This necessitates the creation of a forum in which pre-service teachers can extend their learning experience by participating in reflective teaching practice. Peer mentoring is referred to as a reciprocal supportive process in which both pre-service teachers play the role of mentor to each other, providing psychosocial and career-enhancing support (Nguyen ibid.). This article reports on some of the findings of a larger research project which explored the effects of a model of peer mentoring on pre-service teachers’ reflection on teaching during an EFL practicum in Vietnam. It is particularly interesting to see how this model impacts on pre-service teacher reflection in a teaching context which emphasizes the hierarchy and harmony of relationships. More specifically, the study sought to answer the research question: To what extent (if any) does EFL pre-service teachers’ participation in a peer-mentoring model impact their reflection on teaching during their practicum? Reflection on teaching Reflection on teaching comprises ‘identifying questions and key elements of a matter that has emerged as significant, then taking one’s thoughts into dialogue with oneself and with others’ (Jay and Johnson 2002: 76). It is classified into three levels: descriptive reflection, comparative reflection, and critical reflection (Jay and Johnson ibid.). While descriptive reflection ‘describes the matter of reflection’, comparative reflection ‘reframe[s] the matter for reflection in light of alternative views’ (Jay and Johnson ibid.: 77). Critical reflection implies making suggestions based on what has been uncovered in descriptive and comparative reflection. Reflection is critically important for teacher learning and development. Through reflection, teachers are provided with opportunities to both self-evaluate their teaching knowledge and practice, and share their professional thinking and practices with others in groups or through peer collaboration. It is evident in TESOL that reflective teaching is beneficial for teachers in various ways such as facilitating their ability to reflect on their work and providing information for them to confidently make decisions and changes (Farrell 2015). However, Gün (2011: 126) claims that teachers ‘are unable to do so effectively unless they are specifically trained in how to reflect’. This raises the issue of getting teachers involved in reflecting upon their teaching which, by extension, will improve their ability to reflect on teaching. Reflective teaching can occur in isolation or in collaboration with others. There is research evidence to suggest that making a systematic report when doing reflection alone is challenging for teachers (Farrell 2001). Collaboration with others, however, can boost reflective capacity, compensate for others’ weaknesses, and further develop others’ strengths (Farrell ibid.). Yet, the reality is that pre-service teachers are often expected to reflect on issues pertinent to their teaching in isolation, where they have no support structures. Creating an environment in which the teacher can undertake reflection on their teaching is of paramount importance because, to date, this practice has not been focused on enough in some TESOL teacher education programmes (Liou 2001). Among a vast range of ways to practise reflective teaching through collaboration, peer mentoring can equip pre-service teachers with emotional support though the creation of a supportive environment. In addition, peer mentoring can facilitate pre-service teachers’ discussion of teaching issues and the sharing of career-related responsibilities. Peer mentoring Peer mentoring has been widely employed as an innovative strategy for teacher development as it is embedded in collaborative reflective practice and the critical inquiry tradition. Nowadays, the important role of reflective practice is becoming increasingly advocated in teacher education. Through continuously examining and re-examining their teaching experience, teachers can learn to develop their teaching practice. Thus, learning to teach is not a transmission process, but a transformation process. Reflective practice has long been recognized as a key aspect of effective teacher learning, though it may be a new practice in the Vietnamese context. Through collaboration with peers in a peer-mentoring model, knowledge is co-constructed. This is because ‘a powerful strategy for fostering reflective action is to engage with another person in a way which encourages talking with, questioning, even confronting, the trusted other, in order to examine planning for teaching, implementing and its evaluation’ (Hatton and Smith 1995: 41). The study Context and participants Although the practicum is a compulsory component of teacher training in Vietnam, it is often only scheduled at the end of pre-service language teacher programmes; thus, opportunities to undertake regular teaching practice are limited in this context. Although the length of the practicum varies from institution to institution, a small number of credits are dedicated to teaching practice in all EFL teacher-training institutions in Vietnam. The practicum at local schools often lasts six to ten weeks. In the current context of research, the university in this study offers a six-week practicum. However, concerns about the length of a practicum are arguably not as important as concerns about the practicum quality. The intervention was implemented with 32 out of 200 EFL pre-service teachers who had finished EFL pedagogy courses in an undergraduate EFL teacher education programme. The participants included 31 females and 1 male, ranging in age from 22 to 24 years old. Their previous teaching experience consisted of working as tutors in private classes for an average of two years. This study took place at a university in Vietnam. Participants were selected on a voluntary basis. When they participated in the current study, participants were undertaking their practicum at a school in a large city in Vietnam. During the practicum, each pre-service teacher observed their mentors’ lessons, prepared lesson plans, and practised teaching. Implementation The peer-mentoring intervention was integrated into the six-week practicum programme. Before the practicum, the participating pre-service teachers attended a peer-mentoring workshop which provided them with peer-mentoring skills related to listening, avoiding conflicts, helping with difficult problems, and giving and receiving feedback. During the practicum, the pre-service EFL teachers worked in pairs in which they alternately worked as mentor and mentee through peer observation and support meetings guided by a peer-observation form (see Appendix 1). Peer observation consisted of three steps: a pre-observation conference, the actual observation, and a post-observation conference, all of which were scheduled at the pre-service teachers’ convenience. In the pre-observation phase, each assigned pair of pre-service teachers provided feedback on lesson plans in order to improve them before teaching. Post-observation discussion was based on an observation sheet and the assigned pairs reflected together upon the strengths and weaknesses of the lessons they had observed. Discussion about these lessons could be arranged for support meetings if there was insufficient time available immediately post-observation. Support meetings occurred weekly and aimed to provide pre-service teachers with opportunities to engage in continual conversations, explorations, and reflections upon their authentic teaching experience. Each pair met for approximately one hour per week to discuss the observed lesson. During the meeting, they also reviewed the completed work, teaching and non-teaching issues, and planned changes for the forthcoming week. Data collection and analysis After the practicum, six focus group interviews were conducted in Vietnamese to avoid language barriers, and audio recorded by the first author. Only extracts related to the impact of peer mentoring on teacher reflection were coded. Inductive coding was independently conducted by both authors which allowed for patterns, themes, and categories to emerge from the data. The themes and categories coded by both authors were compared and discussed to achieve agreement. Findings and discussion As a result of interacting with peers, reflection on teaching practices was a prominent topic mentioned in all focus group interviews (see Appendix 2). What became clear from the findings was how all participants reflected together on the strengths and weaknesses of different aspects of their lessons. Overall, findings were classified into two themes: (1) the impact of observing peers on reflection (31 individual references) and (2) the impact of peer feedback on reflection (29 individual references). Impact of peer observation on reflection In this study, peer observation played a critical role in facilitating a majority of pre-service teachers to reflect on their own teaching. For example, by observing a peer’s lesson, a pre-service teacher could think about how they themselves taught: When observing her, I realised that her lesson was more successful than mine. The reason was that she used more interesting games. (G02-EP04) I always made the mistake of being in a hurry or was afraid of lacking time. However, Tu is different. She taught very slowly and organized all the activities appropriately so that pupils could understand the lesson. I can learn from her. (G03-EP01) The above excerpts provide examples of how observing effective activities in a peer’s lesson can evoke a pre-service teacher’s awareness of the weaknesses in their own lessons. Peer observation reportedly offered pre-service teachers opportunities to look at teaching problems from alternative perspectives. When provided with a chance to see how a peer taught in similar situations, a pre-service teacher could gain additional insights into their own teaching. Apart from being influenced by the successful techniques they acquired from observing their peers’ lessons and from being observed, the pre-service teachers said they could also improve their teaching from observing a peer’s mistakes. As one participant said: My peer’s lesson that I observed was lengthy and unfocused. … When I taught my class, I never made this mistake. I became aware of my teaching methods from observing her lesson. (G03-EP05) Furthermore, being observed and receiving feedback from a peer helped by bringing problems to light that they were otherwise unaware of: I taught at the front of the class, so I did not know what some of my pupils did at the back. However, after observing my lesson, Van reminded me about a group at the back who were always playing cards and I paid more attention to them in the next lesson. (G05-EP03) Overall, our evidence confirms that descriptive and comparative reflection (Jay and Johnson op.cit.) occurred when support structures were in place. The peer-mentoring model was reported to develop collaborative relationships and collaborative reflection. Self-reflection occurred when the pre-service teachers were involved in observing others in practice. It contributed to raising the pre-service teachers’ awareness of a number of issues in their teaching practice and encouraged them to compare their teaching experiences with other peers. This type of comparative reflection may also have encouraged the pre-service teachers to look at their problems from alternative perspectives. This finding aligns with previous studies, which have indicated that pre-service teachers tend to value the peer observation experience (Goodnough, Osmond, Dibbon, Glassman, and Stevens 2009), that is, observing and working with peers contributes to their development as reflective practitioners (Anderson, Barksdale, and Hite 2005). Moreover, when involved in observing a peer’s lesson, pre-service teachers not only compared their own teaching to that of their peers, but also changed their own teaching behaviour and responsibility in light of their peer’s teaching. For example, one participant said that when she saw her peer’s teaching success that resulted from the great care she showed towards her students, she became aware of the importance of communicating and establishing relationships with her own students. Later on, she happily noted that ‘gradually, in class, my [students] seemed more motivated to learn’ (G03-EP01). In addition, the pre-service teachers commented that when they observed their peers’ lessons, they self-evaluated their weaknesses and made improvements by adopting and adapting some class management strategies that they had seen, an area of some concern to novice teachers. The following quotes help illustrate this point: I observed Bich’s lesson. I saw she was very strict. I learnt from her and tried to be strict in my class. (G06-EP04) I saw Thanh use group work for post-speaking activities, which was very interesting. I used it but changed it to pair work activities because I thought my class was too noisy and crowded to be able to do group work. (G01-EP04) It seems that when observing how other pre-service teachers manage student behaviour and having the opportunity to discuss this subsequently, they can reflect upon their own methods of dealing with class misbehaviour. Thus, by observing others, pre-service teachers gained a more in-depth understanding of their teaching, which by extension facilitated critical reflection (Jay and Johnson op.cit.). Impact of peer feedback on reflection Another comment frequently mentioned by the pre-service teachers was that peer feedback encouraged them to engage in more critical reflection on their own practice after each lesson. Group meetings among those who shared the same concerns in their own school context were said to be very helpful in encouraging them to reflect on their practice and unpack any persisting issues. Most of the pre-service teachers claimed that their ability to reflect on their limitations was improved as a result of their peer’s feedback. The following quote was representative of many participants: I was so nervous. I always stood next to friendly students or remained in one place for the whole lesson. Sun observed my lesson and described my physical position in class in a friendly way. I cannot help but laugh and wonder how I can stand like that. (G05-EP01) The pre-service teachers further discovered that without their peers, they had fewer opportunities to evaluate their teaching: ‘to me, [the] peer-observation activity [most useful] because my peer could see my faults [and provide] comment[s] for me’ (G01-EP01). For this reason, the pre-service teachers greatly appreciated the comments they received from their peers. For example, one student considered her peer’s comments as ‘professional’ and able to help her ‘mature’ (G03-EP02). In addition, peer feedback reportedly helped pre-service teachers reflect on their own and develop their teaching practice. Overall, they said that they took action to make changes to their practice thanks to their peer’s feedback. The data showed that pre-service teachers adopted classroom management and instruction strategies based on their peers’ explicit feedback which was provided during the post-observation conference. As one said, ‘I think I can speak more slowly in class as Trang said that my students might not understand what I explained in class’ (G03-EP01). Two other students confirmed this by commenting that their peer provided them with critical comments on both their lesson plans and observed lessons. Underpinning these responses is the critical reflection facilitated by the peers’ feedback, which raised the pre-service teachers’ awareness of their own problems. The pre-service teachers identified the contribution of peer feedback to their more accurate reflection on lessons. They explained that although they always reflected on their own lessons, they could do this job more effectively with peers. One remarked: Without comments from a peer, I cannot reflect on my teaching accurately. I think this was the case. How could we see ourselves when we were teaching in class? My peers could help me with that. (G03-EP01) This was followed by another supporter who reinforced the ideas based on complementary input from others: ‘I agree. Even we can sense how good our lessons were. But with our peers’ feedback, we could evaluate our lesson more accurately’ (G03-EP02). Finally, the two pre-service teachers simply changed their minds: ‘Yes, through peers’ feedback, we could evaluate our lesson more accurately’ (G03-EP05) … ‘I strongly agree’ (G03-EP03). It appears that, in addition to developing novice peer relationships, peer feedback after lesson observation contributed to developing habits of reflection. The above comments echo Richards’ (2008) observation that the focus of reflective practice should be upon re-examining and questioning teaching practice by sharing within the community of practice. Critical reflection therefore might promote positive changes. Kullman (1998: 471–2) notes that: reflection … will lead to a greater awareness among student teachers of what constitutes appropriate pedagogic practice and will lay the foundations for development, a process which will be ongoing throughout their teaching careers. The findings show that pre-service teachers acknowledged the role of peer feedback in the peer-mentoring process. It enabled them to reflect comparatively and critically on their lessons, especially when their peers provided feedback and prompts for reflection using the peer-observation form. Most of these teachers provided feedback to each other using the required form. The form, which centred on the pre-service teachers’ critical reflection, helped shape and reshape their practice in a reflective way. This indicates the need for teacher educators to utilize various forms of feedback to prompt quality-teaching reflection during training programmes. It is worth mentioning that, initially, most of the pre-service teachers felt reluctant to participate in peer observation and to reflect on the lesson afterwards. For example one student said ‘At first, I did as the university supervisor required us. I did not know whether it would be effective. I just followed the requirement’ (G01-EP04). This is understandable in this cultural context; expertise from seniors is always more respected. Thus, it is hard for pre-service teachers to immediately value the benefits of the type of peer interaction outlined in this article. In addition, they may feel hesitant when commenting on a peer’s lesson as they wish to maintain a harmonious relationship with friends (Pham and Renshaw 2015). However, their perspective changed when they no longer felt judged by their peers and, instead, discovered the effectiveness of peer mentoring (for example ‘Later, I came to think it was really effective. I feel like I have a close friend who I can count on’ (G01-EP04)). Many pre-service participants regarded the peers as friends who they could trust so they were willing to be observed and share their opinions of their teaching. The findings suggest creating an open, honest, and supportive environment to facilitate reflection. Therefore, explicit training on how to observe and provide feedback in a peer-mentoring workshop, along with clear guidance, appeared to contribute to promoting the effectiveness of peer observation and then facilitate the reflection process more effectively. In brief, it was generally believed that the peer-mentoring model promoted activities for pre-service teachers to critically reflect on their teaching. Pre-service teachers reported a move from descriptive practice to comparative and critical reflection in the process of discovering the advantages of peer support. It should be noted that through observation and feedback with peers, the pre-service teachers moved beyond describing events to reporting the critical moments such as recognizing their own weaknesses and their teaching problems. Peer mentoring also enabled the pre-service teacher to evaluate both their peer’s and their own teaching practice from multiple perspectives, and to provide suggestions for improvement. The development of reflection at all levels seems to be the result of peer support through which pre-service teachers share their common teaching difficulties and learn from each other. Therefore, when participating in reflection on teaching, teachers are motivated to learn a variety of relevant aspects of teaching and make appropriate changes (Johnson 2009). Conclusion This study emphasized the important role of peer mentoring in promoting reflection on teaching while the pre-service teachers showcase the value of the peer-mentoring model for facilitating their engagement in reflection. There was evidence that peer mentoring not only creates opportunities for pre-service teachers to evaluate their own practice, but also enhances their professional knowledge. Peer mentoring was not only used for sharing, it also served as a tool for reflection on teaching. This finding opens a new line of argument which challenges the core features of the Vietnamese learning culture that is embedded in a hierarchical approach to teacher learning. The study suggests the value of peers as a way of learning and reflection in the context of Vietnam and perhaps other similar Asian countries where learning is considered to be a transmission process. The study puts forward a number of implications for different stakeholders. First, the teaching practicum in Vietnam should be reframed to include the use of peer mentoring in teacher training programmes. This will foster pre-service teachers’ reflection during their practicum. Since pre-service teachers are provided with limited formal support in teacher education programmes, peer mentoring could possibly be one source of support that is also likely to facilitate reflection. Furthermore, the present study’s findings indicate that educators need to consider the pre-service teacher education reforms that peer mentoring may make possible. This study, in line with Liou (op.cit.), calls for creating an environment conducive to reflection on teaching in TESOL teacher education. The peer-mentoring model in this study is offered as a foundation to better prepare prospective teachers and enhance their professional growth. Commitment to observation also needs to be emphasized. This practice requires students to observe their peers at least once a week and this initial requirement of committing to the peer-mentoring intervention, over time, develops into a habit. The findings show the critical role of structured peer-based activities in sustaining peer interaction and improving its quality. Pre-service teachers, who frequently become more dependent on the assistance provided by school mentors, were encouraged to engage in the reflective practice naturally, free from fear of judgement. Furthermore, in order to sustain the role of peer observation and feedback in developing pre-service teachers’ professional practice, pre-service teachers need appropriate tools and time to come together to reflect on what they have observed. The use of peer observation when providing feedback to other pre-service teachers may shape the thinking and reflection for both in the mentoring relationship. Quality reflection among peers is strengthened through guidance tools and a friendly environment. Overall, this study concludes that student teachers need guidance as they grow to meet the challenges of increasingly complex classrooms that require them to become reflective practitioners. As this was a small, purposeful sample, the findings cannot be generalized to the whole population. However, future research may build on this by implementing the model in a cross-country study with a larger sample size. Hoa Thi Mai Nguyen (PhD, The University of Queensland, Australia) is a lecturer in the School of Education, University of New South Wales, Australia. Her research interests are in the areas of teacher development, mentoring, TESOL, and sociocultural theory. She has experience teaching and training pre-service and in-service teachers in Asia and Australia. She currently holds an honorary position at the University of Sydney. Nga Thi Hang Ngo (PhD, The University of Sydney, Australia) is a lecturer in TESOL at Tay Bac University, Vietnam. She has had experience in teaching TESOL and training TESOL pre-service and in-service teachers in Vietnam. Her research interest includes TESOL pedagogy, language and culture, and inclusive education. Email:ngango158@gmail.com References Anderson, N. A., Barksdale M. A., and Hite C. E.. 2005. ‘ Pre-service teachers’ observations of cooperating teachers and peers while participating in an early field experience’. Teacher Education Quarterly  32/ 4: 97– 117. Brownrigg, R. 2001. ‘ From traditional to contemporary in second language teaching’. Teacher’s Edition  5: 4– 7. Farrell, T. S. 2001. ‘ Critical friendships: colleagues helping each other develop’. ELT Journal  55/ 4: 368– 74. 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Google Scholar CrossRef Search ADS   Appendix 1 Peer observation sheet Class: observer’s Teacher’s type of lesson: Name: Date: Time: 1 = very poor; 2 = poor; 3 = average; 4 = good; 5 = excellent  Areas to evaluate    1  2  3  4  5  Comments  1 Preparation                Lesson plan  ☐ Easy to understand and follow ☐ Teacher’s knowledge of teaching method ☐ Teacher’s knowledge of teaching contents ☐ Teacher’s knowledge of students’ level, background knowledge, interest ... ☐ Selecting objectives ☐ Appropriate instructional design              Students’ participation and quality of interaction  ☐ Learners’ participation ☐ Learners’ interest and motivation              Visual aids  ☐ Well-prepared ☐ Use of teaching resources              2 The lesson                Presentation/ explanation, or pre-task  ☐ Start of the lesson with setting the scene ☐ Use of techniques for presenting new language/explaining task ☐ Use of presentation materials in the textbook and supplementary materials, if any ☐ Giving students real purposes for use of language              Practice or while-task and post-task  ☐ Variety of activities which encourage meaningful use of language ☐ Timing ☐ Organizing physical space ☐ Teacher and students’ interaction ☐ Student and students’ interaction              Students’ participation and quality of interaction  ☐ Learners’ participation ☐ Learners’ interest and motivation              Classroom management  ☐ Instructions (say-do-check, step-by-step, etc.) ☐ Oral communication ☐ Written communication ☐ Concept checking/ comprehension checking ☐ Managing classroom procedures ☐ Correction and feedback in due time and given in a constructive way ☐ Able to deal with students’ questions and problems that arise ☐ Work arrangement (individual work, open pair/closed pair work, and group work) ☐ Use of facilities and resources available              Teacher’s manner  ☐ Eye contact ☐ Volume of voice ☐ Friendly and encouraging              Class: observer’s Teacher’s type of lesson: Name: Date: Time: 1 = very poor; 2 = poor; 3 = average; 4 = good; 5 = excellent  Areas to evaluate    1  2  3  4  5  Comments  1 Preparation                Lesson plan  ☐ Easy to understand and follow ☐ Teacher’s knowledge of teaching method ☐ Teacher’s knowledge of teaching contents ☐ Teacher’s knowledge of students’ level, background knowledge, interest ... ☐ Selecting objectives ☐ Appropriate instructional design              Students’ participation and quality of interaction  ☐ Learners’ participation ☐ Learners’ interest and motivation              Visual aids  ☐ Well-prepared ☐ Use of teaching resources              2 The lesson                Presentation/ explanation, or pre-task  ☐ Start of the lesson with setting the scene ☐ Use of techniques for presenting new language/explaining task ☐ Use of presentation materials in the textbook and supplementary materials, if any ☐ Giving students real purposes for use of language              Practice or while-task and post-task  ☐ Variety of activities which encourage meaningful use of language ☐ Timing ☐ Organizing physical space ☐ Teacher and students’ interaction ☐ Student and students’ interaction              Students’ participation and quality of interaction  ☐ Learners’ participation ☐ Learners’ interest and motivation              Classroom management  ☐ Instructions (say-do-check, step-by-step, etc.) ☐ Oral communication ☐ Written communication ☐ Concept checking/ comprehension checking ☐ Managing classroom procedures ☐ Correction and feedback in due time and given in a constructive way ☐ Able to deal with students’ questions and problems that arise ☐ Work arrangement (individual work, open pair/closed pair work, and group work) ☐ Use of facilities and resources available              Teacher’s manner  ☐ Eye contact ☐ Volume of voice ☐ Friendly and encouraging              View Large Class: observer’s Teacher’s type of lesson: Name: Date: Time: 1 = very poor; 2 = poor; 3 = average; 4 = good; 5 = excellent  Areas to evaluate    1  2  3  4  5  Comments  1 Preparation                Lesson plan  ☐ Easy to understand and follow ☐ Teacher’s knowledge of teaching method ☐ Teacher’s knowledge of teaching contents ☐ Teacher’s knowledge of students’ level, background knowledge, interest ... ☐ Selecting objectives ☐ Appropriate instructional design              Students’ participation and quality of interaction  ☐ Learners’ participation ☐ Learners’ interest and motivation              Visual aids  ☐ Well-prepared ☐ Use of teaching resources              2 The lesson                Presentation/ explanation, or pre-task  ☐ Start of the lesson with setting the scene ☐ Use of techniques for presenting new language/explaining task ☐ Use of presentation materials in the textbook and supplementary materials, if any ☐ Giving students real purposes for use of language              Practice or while-task and post-task  ☐ Variety of activities which encourage meaningful use of language ☐ Timing ☐ Organizing physical space ☐ Teacher and students’ interaction ☐ Student and students’ interaction              Students’ participation and quality of interaction  ☐ Learners’ participation ☐ Learners’ interest and motivation              Classroom management  ☐ Instructions (say-do-check, step-by-step, etc.) ☐ Oral communication ☐ Written communication ☐ Concept checking/ comprehension checking ☐ Managing classroom procedures ☐ Correction and feedback in due time and given in a constructive way ☐ Able to deal with students’ questions and problems that arise ☐ Work arrangement (individual work, open pair/closed pair work, and group work) ☐ Use of facilities and resources available              Teacher’s manner  ☐ Eye contact ☐ Volume of voice ☐ Friendly and encouraging              Class: observer’s Teacher’s type of lesson: Name: Date: Time: 1 = very poor; 2 = poor; 3 = average; 4 = good; 5 = excellent  Areas to evaluate    1  2  3  4  5  Comments  1 Preparation                Lesson plan  ☐ Easy to understand and follow ☐ Teacher’s knowledge of teaching method ☐ Teacher’s knowledge of teaching contents ☐ Teacher’s knowledge of students’ level, background knowledge, interest ... ☐ Selecting objectives ☐ Appropriate instructional design              Students’ participation and quality of interaction  ☐ Learners’ participation ☐ Learners’ interest and motivation              Visual aids  ☐ Well-prepared ☐ Use of teaching resources              2 The lesson                Presentation/ explanation, or pre-task  ☐ Start of the lesson with setting the scene ☐ Use of techniques for presenting new language/explaining task ☐ Use of presentation materials in the textbook and supplementary materials, if any ☐ Giving students real purposes for use of language              Practice or while-task and post-task  ☐ Variety of activities which encourage meaningful use of language ☐ Timing ☐ Organizing physical space ☐ Teacher and students’ interaction ☐ Student and students’ interaction              Students’ participation and quality of interaction  ☐ Learners’ participation ☐ Learners’ interest and motivation              Classroom management  ☐ Instructions (say-do-check, step-by-step, etc.) ☐ Oral communication ☐ Written communication ☐ Concept checking/ comprehension checking ☐ Managing classroom procedures ☐ Correction and feedback in due time and given in a constructive way ☐ Able to deal with students’ questions and problems that arise ☐ Work arrangement (individual work, open pair/closed pair work, and group work) ☐ Use of facilities and resources available              Teacher’s manner  ☐ Eye contact ☐ Volume of voice ☐ Friendly and encouraging              View Large General comments (good points): Suggestions (things you—observer—have learnt from this lesson): Please give this sheet to the student teacher you observe ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- This part is written by the observed student teacher As a student teacher: your school mentor teacher and your peers will give you their feedback. Please think about it carefully and evaluate your lesson yourself with the following guiding questions: What are you satisfied with in your lesson? What aren’t you satisfied with in your lesson? What have you learned for the future lesson? What improvements do you want to make to the lesson? Appendix 2 Interview questions 1 Which following components of planning and preparation domain have been improved as a result of working/interacting with your peer(s) through the peer-mentoring process? Please give specific example(s) or evidence that indicate how the working/interacting with your peer(s) through the peer-mentoring process during your practicum helped you make such improvement in the component of classroom environment: Demonstrating knowledge of content and pedagogy Demonstrating knowledge of students Selecting instructional goals Demonstrating knowledge of resources Designing coherent instruction Assessing student learning Others: 2 Which following components of classroom environment domain have been improved as a result of working/interacting with your peer(s) through the peer-mentoring process? Please give specific example(s) or evidence that indicate how working/interacting with your peer(s) through the peer-mentoring process during your practicum helped you make such improvement: Creating an environment of respect and rapport Establishing a culture for learning Managing classroom procedures Managing student behaviour Organizing physical space Others 3 Which following components of instruction domain have been improved as a result of working/interacting with your peer(s) through the peer-mentoring process? Please give specific example(s) or evidence that indicate how the working/interacting with your peer(s) through the peer-mentoring process during your practicum helped you make such improvement: Communicating clearly and accurately Using questioning and discussion Techniques engaging students in learning Providing feedback to students Using formal and informal assessments Demonstrating flexibility and responsiveness Others 4 Which following components of teacher responsibility domain have been improved as a result of working/interacting with your peer(s) through the peer-mentoring process? Please give specific example(s) or evidence that indicate how the working/interacting with your peer(s) through the peer-mentoring process during your practicum helped you make such improvement: Reflecting on teaching Maintaining accurate records Contributing to the school and district Growing and developing professionally Showing professionalism Others © The Author(s) 2017. Published by Oxford University Press; all rights reserved. This article is published and distributed under the terms of the Oxford University Press, Standard Journals Publication Model (https://academic.oup.com/journals/pages/about_us/legal/notices)

Journal

ELT JournalOxford University Press

Published: Nov 7, 2017

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