Q. 2. What do you mean by “monitoring instruction”? How can self-monitoring be of help in the professional growth of teachers who are already experienced?
Ans. Monitoring Instruction – Being a teacher can be very rewarding, but it also takes a lot of work, time and consideration on the part of a teacher. Organization, planning, and time management hold an imperative role in managing a classroom. Students must be constantly monitored in order to make sure they are progressing; it is also important to monitor students to make sure that they are learning, and to help avoid disruption or off task behaviour. Problems do occur in classrooms, and they must be anticipated and handled correctly. There are many things a teacher must take into consideration, and teaching can be a great job, but there is a lot of work involved as well.
The teaching is not a completely predictable activity and thus there is no certain way in which the class can be dealt. There are many situations that arise and need to be handled spontaneously with a tactical approach. The teacher has to be decisive and clear about what approach needs to be taken. Different stages and different topics may need a different kind of choices in the teaching methods and thus cannot be pre-planned exactly. She has to make sure that the opportunities of the classroom context are best utilized in the way teaching goes. Effective teaching combines a number of techniques so that the experience of the student is varied and the different learning styles of students can be catered for. “Experience is a great teacher” and so the teacher him/herself has a lot to learn from it. The teacher has to grow professionally and learn new ideas which make him/her a reflective practitioner.
Monitoring In The Classroom
Monitoring or keeping watch is not always deliberately planned and consciously done. The same is true in case of day-to-day activities that we engage in, for example, when walking to the bus stop, switching off the lights every night, locking doors etc. are some habitual activities where not much attention goes into what and how we are doing them. On the other hand, crossing a road with heavy vehicular traffic and cooking something that you do not cook in routine is a deliberate activity that demands attention and need be carefully done. You are aware in such activities about how are you exactly going to do it.
Irrespective of whether the activities are done with deliberation or not, but they all involve monitoring at the conscious or sub-conscious level. Monitoring means observing something as it happens. We will study the conscious monitoring where we are systematically monitoring so that we build the sound base and not simply provide improvements when things go wrong. It is a purposeful and constructive activity.
Monitoring can also be seen as an inspection or evaluating activity by an external authority. Thus controlling traffic by a traffic policeman, a health inspection by an Inspector, watch-keeping by a guard, umpiring by an umpire in a cricket match are all monitoring activities done in an inspection mode. But there is a different kind of monitoring also that goes without power or authority in the official sense. This kind of information is done with some inputs based on which the conclusions are drawn and actions taken. Take an example of a motorcyclist driving his bike.
Now driving is a careful activity that needs attention towards balancing the bike, avoiding any pits on the road and adjusting the path, speed as well as direction of the bike. This is done as a constant activity and is a response based on the response to the traffic, the holes on the roads as inputs.
Similarly, a doctor who monitors a patient’s reports and derives the progress from it and prescribes further treatment and medicines based on the same is nothing but a monitoring activity. From all the activities discussed above we can conclude that some information becomes the basis of actions for a person and it decides his/her plans and preparations.
Monitoring is the assessment of students, in order to ensure students are progressing properly. It is a highly valuable tool for teachers to use for many reasons. Primarily, teachers need to monitor students in order to gauge student Let us discuss various practical situations where monitoring can be seen as an ongoing activity and lead towards the goal:
- When a science teacher is explaining a new concept to the students say, friction is the concept, then she will use the examples provided in the textbook to explain what friction is, but students may not have understood it clearly. So in this case, the teacher will illustrate an example on her own so as to clarify the concept. This is her innovation and is done as a response/feedback (got from monitoring the students’ puzzled faces) that makes her innovate an example to explain.
- Let us take another example from the language class where the teacher is reading a Prose from a Poem. One of the students shares an insightful idea, which is not expected out of him (he is an average child and its too young for him to think that deep). But the teacher is monitoring this new idea/thought that has come to the child’s mind and wishes to discuss it more with the class. The teacher stops her explanation which was a part of the teaching plan, in order to encourage and appreciate an average child’s thought, so that he/she can come out of his/her shyness and feel motivated in learning.
- There may be a class where the teacher has given 15 minutes of discussion time to the students to discuss a prose and come up with their interpretation. But most of the initial time, say 12 minutes allotted for the activity in his/her plan has gone into bringing the students in place and igniting their minds. Now by the plan, the prose interpretation should be ready with the students in another 3 minutes. However, since the students have now started discussing and have got serious about it, the teacher allows the activity time to extend by another 10 minutes. Now this is also done by monitoring as the teacher has seen the interest of the students and the widespread learning which took place as a result and thus takes a decision to let the discussion go on for another 10 minutes to make the activity fruitful.
In all examples given above, the path of action was based on the feedback and was modified according to it. The teacher was a continuously observing and analyzing students’ feedback and did not rigidly follow his/her plan with diligence. She had to exhibit flexibility in her plan and change the direction. But this change is purposeful.
Thus monitoring is a conscious and systematic process. Monitoring may seem like an automatic process in most of the cases. Monitoring in this case is not a careful activity like riding a motorcycle. It is not a result of the rigid habits and practices, but a flexible attitude which comes with experience.
To prove that monitoring in this case is not a consciously planned activity, but done in a subconscious manner, we can better ask the teacher who took those decisions during the activity after she is just done with her lesson. Now when the teacher is asked about where during the teaching she got the relevant information and where did she change her plan and proceed on a different track, she herself might not be able to recall. However, if the same teacher is in a relaxed mood and given some clues about the events, she will probably be able to recall the sequence events as they took place.