Teaching early language in primary school : an analysis of a post-lesson observation meeting

Cathal de Paor, Ireland, ID LLCE2016-369;     This paper focuses on the role of a mentor in helping a newly-qualified teacher to develop her language teaching. The body of theory known as ‘la didactique professionnelle’, which is rooted in Piaget’s constructivism (1974), initiated by Vergnaud (1996), and developed further later on (Pastré et al., 2006) has promoted the importance of reflective practice with the support of a skilled other person such as a mentor. The paper uses this as a framework for an analysis of the post-observation meeting between the teacher and the mentor. During the lesson observation, the teacher had read a story to the children, but had not achieved the language learning objectives she had intended. During the meeting, she conceptualizes her difficulty as a classroom management issue (class size and insufficient time). However, rather than attempting to provide a solution to such a problem, the mentor focuses on the pedagogical aspect of the lesson, problematizing it in order to develop the teachers’ understanding of constructive alignment between teaching, learning and assessment, and thereby, re-constructing the problem in a more productive way. In its analysis, the paper shows that the questioning of the mentor moves between Peirces’ three forms of human reasoning: deduction, induction and abduction (Fann 1970).  This enables the mentor to promote the abductive capacity of the teacher so that she can think in new ways about her teaching and in a more sophisticated way (Tochon, 1993). This semiotic analysis shows how the questioning of the mentor is crucial in helping the teacher to think differently about the lesson, and to deepen her understanding of the connection between teaching learning and assessment in language teaching.

Key words: early language; mentor; teacher induction; abduction

References

Fann K.T. (1970), Peirce’s Theory of Abduction, The Hague, Martinus Nijhof.

Pastré, P., Mayen, P. & Vergnaud, G. (2006) « La didactique professionnelle », Revue française de pédagogie, n° 154, p. 145-198.

Piaget, J. (1974) Réussir et comprendre, Paris, Presses universitaires de France.

Schön, D. (1987) Educating the reflective practitioner, San Francisco : Jossey Bass.

Tochon, F. (1993) L'enseignant expert, Paris, Nathan.