A Short Guide to Microteaching

A Short Guide to Microteaching
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Microteaching is a teacher training technique that allows student teachers to practice and refine their teaching skills in a low-risk, simulated classroom environment. The method, also used for retraining or fine-tuning the skills of practicing teachers, was developed in the late 1950s and early 1960s by Dwight Allen at Stanford University.

How Microteaching Works

Microteaching sessions involve one student teacher, the class instructor (or school supervisor), and a small group of peers. These sessions allow student teachers to practice and polish their teaching techniques in a simulated environment before putting them into practice with students.

Using the teaching method, which was revised and simplified in the late 1980s and early 1990s, student teachers conduct a short lesson (usually 5-20 minutes in length).

Microteaching sessions focus on one teaching skill at a time. This singular focus provides the opportunity for student teachers to master each technique by planning and teaching the same lesson multiple times, making adjustments based on peer and instructor feedback. 

Benefits of Microteaching

Microteaching provides ongoing training for student teachers and retraining for classroom teachers in a simulated environment. These practice sessions enable student teachers to perfect their teaching techniques before applying them in the classroom.

Microteaching sessions also allow student teachers to prepare for a variety of classroom scenarios, including working with students of different skill levels and socioeconomic backgrounds. Lastly, microteaching provides valuable opportunities for self-evaluation and peer feedback.

Disadvantages of Microteaching

Microteaching is considered one of the most effective techniques for teacher training, but it does have a few drawbacks. Most significantly, microteaching requires the presence of an instructor and a group of peers, which means that not all student teachers (or current teachers) can consistently complete microteaching sessions.

Ideally, microteaching sessions are repeated multiple times so that the student teacher can refine his or her skills. However, in larger education programs, there may not be time for all student teachers to complete multiple sessions.

The Microteaching Cycle

Microteaching is accomplished cyclically, allowing teachers to practice new skills in order to attain mastery.

Classroom Instruction

First, student teachers learn the basics of an individual through lectures, textbooks, and demonstration (via an instructor or video lessons). Skills studied include communication, explanation, lecturing, and engaging students. They may also include organization, illustrating lessons with examples, and answering student questions.

Lesson Planning

Next, the student teacher plans a short lesson that will enable her to practice these new skills in a mock classroom situation. Though the classroom environment is simulated, teachers should consider their presentation an actual lesson and present it in an engaging, logical, and understandable manner.

Teaching and Feedback

The teacher conducts the lesson for her instructor and peer group. The session is recorded so that the student can watch it later for self-evaluation. Immediately following the microteaching session, the teacher receives feedback from her instructor and peers.

Peer feedback should be specific and balanced (include observations on strengths as well as weaknesses) with the goal of helping the student teacher improve. It’s helpful for peers to focus on their personal experience using “I” statements and to provide specific detail in their feedback.

For example, when providing constructive criticism, "I had trouble hearing you at times" is more helpful than “You need to speak louder.” When offering praise, “I felt confident commenting because you made eye contact with me” is more helpful than "You engage well with students.”

Re-plan and Reteach

Based on peer feedback and self-evaluation, the student teacher plans the same lesson and teaches it a second time. The goal is to incorporate feedback from the first microteaching session to master the skill being practiced.

The second teaching session is recorded just like the first. At the conclusion, the instructor and peers offer feedback, and the student teacher can watch the recording for self-evaluation.

Microteaching often results in better-prepared, more confident teachers with a strong working understanding of the skills they need in the classroom.