Let's face it, as teachers of English language, we all have fears that our lessons are not good enough. Have we prepared well enough to engage our students? Have we achieved our lesson aims? Can we handle a new student who is overly active in class? Nothing makes these fears more apparent than when we have a classroom observation. With that in mind, what can we do to calm ourselves and deliver the best possible lesson and have every parent praising your name?
To begin, at EF schools for kids and teens it is quite common to have classroom observations with the parents of your students in attendance. We often refer to these as either an "open lesson", or "open door". In these classes, the teacher presents a small sample of EF course material and methodology to parents while teaching to the students. Every teacher is encouraged to do these, and naturally, every teacher is nervous. What then should we do to overcome these fears and anxieties?
This may seem obvious but is quickly forgotten. The open lesson format is often different than our regular class routine, and as such, you must familiarize yourself and the students with this new material. One way you can do this is by making a PPT with the key points or asking advice from more experienced teachers. Nothing is more embarrassing than preparing the wrong lesson!
Confidence is always important. Nothing makes an open lesson run more smoothly, like a confident teacher. In my first open lesson, I was not sure of myself, and students who were usually quiet became unruly. What I learned, do not be afraid to change your lesson plan to suit the class situation. Do not show your nerves and be able to adapt to the room!
Do not take an open lesson too serious. Stay professional, but always remember that this is the students' time to shine. Often students are more nervous than you! As such, the parents are very shy when their child is shy. You can take the pressure off by smiling and encouraging the child even if they make a mistake. The parent will appreciate the encouragement and error correction.
The parents are adults, of course, so even though they come to see their children perform, they need some excitement! We forget, that as teachers, the material is not always exciting for an adult, even if the student is fully engaged. Involving the parents is a great way to change the routine and let the parents take control of class even though they are still following the lesson you provided. In many of my open lessons, I try to take the pressure off by having the parents stand, move to another side of the classroom or interact with the flashcards and IWB. These tactics provide the students with a fresh perspective to learn and review materials.
Finally, have fun! The students and parents are familiar with standard school and lessons. We have an open lesson to show the fun side of education and how we teach. Furthermore, you will be more comfortable if this is an engaging time in the class! Show them a new lesson they have never seen before.
Above all, open lessons are a break in the teachers' routine that allows both parents and students to interact in an EF learning environment. For me, my early open lessons suffered because they did not have room for mistakes or fun; I was too nervous. After practice, however, I realized that I needed to add energy, confidence and more experience into my open lessons. These changes turned my time in front of the parents into a relaxing one, full of good reviews, excited students and happy parents!