11.1 Dealing with micro-level difficulties

It might appear at first glance that although support can be provided for micro-level difficulties, little can be done to help to resolve macro-level difficulties. This is not necessarily so.

Examples of micro-level difficulties include:

  • lack of teaching strategies
  • inadequacy to develop locally oriented or culturally friendly teaching materials
  • lack of confidence with improvisation of resources
  • lack of mastery of subject content
  • lack of ICT skills
  • learners’ lack of cooperation during activity methods of teaching
  • the student teacher’s lack of self-motivation.

Many School Experience Supervisors have had some experience of these situations and have found some solutions which they have shared among themselves to increase their collection of tools to support their students.

Mr Mubita

“My key function as School Experience Supervisor is to improve classroom practice and some of the micro-level difficulties linked with classroom practice, for example the lack of teaching strategies. I have found that the ideas contained in the Toolkit help me to scaffold the student teacher development in using an increasing number of teaching strategies – and I make sure that each of my students works on one teaching strategy at a time.”

Mrs Kasonso

“The case studies used in the section of the modules provide guidance and ideas on some of the difficulties met by student teachers.

One area we have not explored yet is how to bridge the gaps in students’ subject knowledge. I have found what I would call the supporting resources that provide background information and/or subject knowledge for teachers and that are clearly indicated by a small symbol most helpful. Did you know there are some on verbs and adverbs, electricity, the heart rate? Really all sorts and it is worth looking at these.

Each TESSA unit has up to six resources to support the teacher.”

Mr Lungu

“Some of these provide support for techniques. So, yes, look them up!

Also, don’t forget the Key Resources are extremely useful and can really trigger the imagination. For example, the two key resources ‘Being a resourceful teacher in challenging conditions’ and ‘Using the local community/environment as a resource’ can most certainly help student teachers who have difficulties in developing locally oriented or culturally friendly teaching materials, or who lack confidence in improvising with resources.

You may want to borrow one of the activities I do during one of my face-to-face seminars on ‘How can you use this in your teaching?’. I bring in all sorts of local and usual items as well as photos of the local environment. We brainstorm ideas and students select a few of these to try in micro-teaching sessions.”

Mrs Banda

“Two points we have not mentioned.

First how to get the learners to appreciate a different way of working? I would say, just as we introduce our students progressively to new methods, they need to explain to their learners, albeit briefly, that today we are going to try a new way of doing things and introduce things progressively.

And the last point, ICT skills; I am self-taught, but I know some of my students are diffident. I have brought my laptop to face-to-face seminars. In pairs, students go and try to access the site and/or resources. If they need help, another student who is computer literate goes and supports them.”

Activity 11.1: Responding to your own student teachers’ difficulties

This activity asks you to think about your students’ individual needs and to consider how you might respond to them.

Part 1

Think of each student in your group and list at least one difficulty they have (go up to a maximum of three difficulties per student if you wish).

  • group them into issues connected with teaching and their developing skills (micro-level difficulties) and issues connected to the student teachers’ surroundings or working conditions (macro-level difficulties).

Part 2

Pair up with another School Experience Supervisor and share your lists of student teachers’ difficulties, particularly those you felt difficult to respond to on your own

  • together, work out some strategies that you could use to respond to the micro-level difficulties. Use the vignettes above, to help you with this.

Tool 11: Counselling student teachers

11.2 Dealing with macro-level difficulties