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Hey everyone! I’m not posting here anything like as regularly as I used to, for that I can only admit that at the moment Life Is Happening (and blogging is taking a back seat). Also, this is a bit of a self-indulgent post as I’m writing it to help me work through my thinking and preparation for a job interview I’ve got coming up very soon. In fact as I’m writing this post, the interview is tomorrow! And I’ll have set my blog to post this as I’m on the bus, train and tube to my interview destination. Wish me luck, peeps!

It is self-indulgent, but I also hope that there’s something in what I’m about to write that will resonate or help others who find themselves in the situation of having to prepare for what is called a mini teach (sometimes people also refer to this as a micro teach).

What is a mini teach?

A quick google of mini teach and micro teach tells me the following things:

  • Mini teaches are generally thought of as a development technique in teacher training (this tallies with what I know of courses such as the CELTA and Trinity CertTESOL through teacher trainer friends and colleagues)
  • They are short (about 20 minutes)
  • They might be observed (as I believe is the case on Initial Teacher Training courses like those mentioned above) and maybe even recorded for post-mortem style analysis (Wikipedia tells me about Hattie’s Visible Learning project)

I’m not sure that I’ve actually ever done a micro teach myself, as I went through the PGCE route into teaching rather than the shorter CELTA type courses – though I must have been gradually acclimatised to the teaching environment in some way, which was probably teaching sections of classes with my mentor in the further education college where I was doing my teaching practice. I certainly haven’t done a full on micro teach as part of an interview before (edit – I did have to prepare a lesson for my ESOL teaching job, but I only had to explain in theory what I would do to the management team and one of the more experienced teachers in the department; I didn’t actually ‘teach’ the session).

So, I turned to another online resource I use when I have questions about language teaching and all that – the IATEFL Facebook Group. I posted an explanation of what I wanted to know and got a few (well, three) responses. What would people expect in a mini teach or micro teach? The answer was essentially that it should act as a microcosm of a lesson – the activities should be there, in a logical order and managed effectively. You have to ‘produce the goods’, as it was put in one comment.

How are you going to produce the goods?

Which leads me to this – how exactly am I going to produce a logical series of activities and get the students to demonstrate learning of something in a session of just 20 minutes. Here are a few factors key in my thinking:

  • I need a quick, no-nonsense way of assessing students’ prior knowledge that will also segue nicely into the topic, priming the students for what’s going to be covered. I’m plumbing for a quick Q&A here on students use of mobile phones here (the topic) with them giving me feedback by holding they arms up in the air (quick way to assess where the class is at). I may question one or two individually, but I don’t want to get bogged down.
  • I need a really really minimal resource to set the context and get the learners thinking. I’ve decided on a short video clip culled from Trigger Happy TV, with a question at the start and a more focused task at the end.
  • I need a handout, I can’t get out of this one. This is the fastest way to make sure the students have some sort of record of what we’ve done – and there just isn’t time for them to produce anything more involved. One side of A4 here, folded over into two A5 sections, with the questions for the video task, general questions about phone etiquette and then a model to follow for the final task of a role play.
  • A quick to set up, free-ish task at the end. 20 minutes isn’t really enough time to go into a whole task cycle, but there should be something at the end that aims at getting the students to produce something using what they’ve learnt. Here I’ve chosen a quick role play telephone conversation, very clearly defined and guided so that nothing should go wrong.

I might blog a bit more about the whole thing afterwards, as it’s possibly the most involved interview I’ll have ever done – with a presentation about getting ‘high quality learning’ happening, a panel interview and a written task. Blimey! I think I’ll be knackered. Wish me luck!!