This article presents an overview of Microteaching Labs, a tool of pre-service and occasionally in-service teacher education that developed during the 1950s and 1960s in the United States. Microteaching Labs resulted from the desire to integrate theory with practice before prospective teachers began student teaching. In Microteaching Labs, prospective teachers effectively practice for real-world teaching. To do this, they engage in pre-observation conferences with the instructor to determine the lesson's direction before developing and teaching a mini-lesson. Following the lesson, the prospective teacher engages in a post-observation conference, sometimes both with instructor and peers, before conducting self-evaluation and reflection on the experience.
Both Allen and Ryan (1969) and Cruickshank and Metcalf (1993) have similar definitions of microteaching as a practical means of training prospective teachers. However, the definition has evolved from a simplistic definition purporting microteaching to be the idea of training current and prospective teachers, to focusing on the specifics of what that training involves. The explanation of modern microteaching consists of several basic facets: the teacher teaches a mini-lesson while being videotaped, and then feedback from a supervisor or instructor is given, followed by self-reflection and self-evaluation. In teacher education, the teacher is a prospective teacher and fellow students as well as the instructor often give feedback. However, microteaching is also occasionally utilized as a professional development tool for in-service teachers, those who are already part of the teaching profession. This is different from macroteaching, which involves teaching an entire class period.
The use of microteaching as an educational tool has existed since the mid-twentieth century. It was designed in the 1950s by the Stanford Group (Akalin, 2005) before its initial use at Stanford University in the 1960s (Duncan & Biddle, 1974). It started as a response to the perceived inadequacy of teacher education programs at that time, which usually taught teacher candidates about educational theory. This tool was established in order to facilitate the transition from theory to practice. It was created in the hope of simplifying the complexity of teaching into manageable parts, in order that prospective teachers might practice specific teaching skills. Duncan & Biddle (1974) state that microteaching was originally a combination of theory review, instructor modeling of a skill, practice of that skill, and feedback on how well the skill was performed, followed by more practice of that same skill before moving on to repeat the process with other topics. Francis (1997) is among those who critique this earlier practice as inadequate due to the lack of interaction with teaching models or critical theory. This criticism has been part of the push behind a number of changes in microteaching that have occurred.
Throughout the years, microteaching itself has become more progressive and its practice has evolved to include more specific aspects of practical teaching methods. Self-evaluation and reflection have become key elements of microteaching labs for teacher candidates. Microteaching also provides the chance to combine theoretical knowledge from coursework with real-life practice in teaching lessons and the opportunity to receive feedback from instructors and peers. In addition, microteaching has become an excellent way for prospective teachers to gather new lesson ideas and techniques from others. Instead of focusing solely on the acquisition of a skill, microteaching frequently consists of an interactive mentorship with a veteran teacher combined with critical self-reflection. Some instructors, such as Francis (1997), have reported on attempts to further reform microteaching into a system of analyzing the way that the interpersonal actions and personal beliefs of prospective teachers affect their teaching styles and methods. Although microteaching labs are used with prospective teachers from a variety of subject areas (math, history, science, etc.) and grade levels (elementary, middle, high school), the process of the labs follow the same structure even as the practiced skills vary.
In many professions, such as the medical field, extensive opportunities for internships and "rotations," under the watchful guidance of an experienced practitioner allow chances to perform the actual duties that they hope to one day carry out. Teacher education does this through the use of student teaching, when a prospective teacher takes over several classes from a veteran teacher and is guided and mentored through a semester of teaching duties. Microteaching is in many ways a micro-apprenticeship; it is the opportunity to teach a mini-lesson in front of the instructor and peer "students." Extensive feedback, occurring during pre- and post-conferences, gives the instructor the chance to guide the prospective teacher, present insights from personal experience, and encourage self-reflection. This often results in an increased degree of self-confidence and self-awareness in the prospective teacher (Benton-Kupper, 2001) when making the transition to student teaching and then to a full-time teaching position.
Typical Microteaching Settings
The audience during a microteaching lesson consists of classroom peers in a typical classroom setting, with access to chalkboard/whiteboard, overhead projectors, and other typical classroom tools. Cruickshank and Metcalf (1993) consider microteaching to most often take place in front of a small group, usually consisting of between three to five other teacher candidates. Occasionally, prospective teachers enter actual schools (elementary, middle, or high school) and teach mini-lessons there as part of the microteaching lab (Hinckley, 1972; Akalin, 2005). Regardless of the setting, the instructor and fellow prospective teachers are part of the audience. Depending on the teaching philosophy of the instructor, the peers may also be involved in post-lesson evaluations of the teacher's performance. If this is the case, they evaluate the prospective teacher's lesson using the same rubric as the professor and a group discussion about the lesson is held.
Before the lesson, a pre-observation conference is held between the prospective teacher and the class instructor. During this conference, logistics are settled, such as a determination of when the prospective teacher will be expected to...
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