I admit it. I was very scared of being visited during my first year of teaching. I distinctly recall when the English inspector came around to visiting me. It was in 1997. I had prepared and laminated tons of visual aids in brilliant colors along with posters I had ordered. One side of the class was reserved for students’ work. I wanted everything to be perfect. I rehearsed my lesson plan twenty times over. My fifth grade students were ready for the visit having being told about it by their homeroom teacher. All twenty four students were sitting in a “U”, books and notebooks on their desks.
I ran to the teacher’s room which was a stone’s throw away from my classroom. I saw the inspector’s car pull up and slowly her green trolley suitcase was in sight. I ran back to the classroom and back again to the teacher’s room because I had forgot some last minute things for the lesson. By the time I was back in the classroom, the inspector had arrived. She said, “Why are you so breathless?” She sensed that I was anxious and saw right through me. I wanted the lesson to work exactly as it was written. I was a new teacher. I did not have experience in listening to my teacher voice and intuition. But I wasn’t getting a grade on that.
The lesson went well. She liked the diversity of the lesson and my classroom management approaches. She complimented me on the attractive bulletin boards and the students’ work. In the end I got a good report. And I learned a couple of important things along the way.
If you are looking to be more spontaneous, well, that’s all very well and good. But keep the following in mind:
Much of the success in the classroom for a new teacher depends on how much a teacher is willing to go beyond what is written in her lesson plan and to read the students. This takes many years of practice and persistence. But it is important to get into the training of learning to listen to teacher intuition. Having a bank of activities is not always enough. The same goes for sticking to the book. It is important to experiment and try new things. Reach out to the students. They will provide you with the answers.
Spontaneity is putting your lesson plans aside and do something on the spur of the moment. While this assumes considerable classroom experience and perhaps some guts to an extent, a (new) teacher has got to start somewhere.