|The Malawi Integrated In-Service Teacher Education Project: An Analysis of the Curriculum and Its Delivery in the Colleges (CIE, 2000, 75 p.)|
|Chapter 2: The Curriculum Strategy|
Teaching practice is given two hours every week. Students go to the nearby demonstration school(s) to practise teaching and at BTC pupils also come to the college to learn. The number of students is so big that it is not possible to practice teaching more than once during the term.
Students are organised in groups of 10. Each student is given one 30 minutes period to teach throughout the entire three months. Teaching practice is allowed only from std 1 to std 7. Std 8 is an examination class and school authorities are reluctant to let students handle this class for fear of disturbing the pupils.
Tutors give each student a topic in a given subject in a particular Standard to prepare. The student then consults the teacher in charge of that Standard to organise teaching and learning materials such as teachers guides and textbooks. Each group of students visits a classroom and observe their colleagues teach. The tutor responsible for each group is supposed to supervise at most four students in one session of two hours. So at the end of the teaching practice each student will have observed at least nine colleagues teach different subjects in different standards.
At the end of the session each group discusses together with their tutor the strong points and the weak points of each lesson. The tutor awards a grade to each of the students who taught. The assessment instrument uses a traditional form with 25 different skills or aspects of the lesson to mark on a range of 0-4. The marks are then converted into grades A to E, where A is the highest and E is the lowest grade, but most students get high grades mostly above B. Only very few get grades below C-, which is designated as fair.
Teaching practice at the college is fraught with problems. First the schools and college calendars are not synchronized, which cuts the number of weeks available. This means that a student is given a grade from one teaching session only. Sometimes these grades are given by school teachers who are not trained to do so. Tutors agree that this practice is ineffective because there is no micro - teaching or peer teaching to adequately prepare the students for the task. In addition the classes used in the schools are small and have adequate equipment while in reality the students will teach overcrowded classes with a few teaching/learning aids.
The grade given during this teaching practice does not carry much weight towards the final grade of the student. It is only used in the event of a student failing teaching practice during school based training. As a result this activity is not taken seriously and hence some tutors decide to leave the task of supervising to school teachers.
There is one consolation to the whole process. Discussions after each practice session provide opportunity for students to look critically at their own practice. In addition each student observes nine other students teach providing opportunity to learn from others. However the discussions that follow are said to be rather low key with very little participation from most students. Tutors need to be motivated enough to make this exercise worthwhile and get students to realise the importance of discussions after practice. Feedback from students indicate nevertheless that they value these opportunities to teach in a supportive and supervised atmosphere.