As I mention in the “about” section of my blog, I finished the 10 week CELTA YL course at the beginning of this year and I am currently doing the Cambridge Delta (Diploma in Teaching English to speakers of other languages). While on this journey (I’m almost half way through it now) some feelings have been a constant along the road.
A feeling that has followed me for most of the year so far can be summed up in one sentence: “How could I have taught for so long without knowing this?” or “How could I have taught for so long without having done ANY of this?”. This is the feeling that reassures me that I am on the right path and reminds me how much I am developing as a teacher.
I look back at how I was teaching about a year ago and am so surprised that I was so unaware of certain aspects of teaching and classroom management for so long. A perfect example was during the YL extension to the CELTA. Before enrolling on this course I always got my YLs to check their answers together before we did feedback as a whole class, I always questioned myself “Why do some students do this in English and others not?”. It just so happens that in the very first class on the course I was picked up on the absence of process language in my lessons. During the feedback session on it something suddenly clicked, I realised it was me who wasn’t teaching these learners the language they needed to check their answers in the first place. Over the following 9 weeks of the course I realised how important this aspect is in games (e.g.”It’s your turn”, “You miss a turn”), when getting learners to check answers (e.g.”I think number 1 is false”), when working in a group (e.g. “Can you pass me the scissors”), and how I had missed over 5 entire years to even approach this or consider it part of the language learning process as it wasn’t an aim of the class.
Another feeling that spawns from the previous one is unfortunately, a negative one. Since the beginning of this year I have felt that my teaching isn’t as good as it could be. I am not being able to keep up the pace of implementing the procedures, techniques and approaches in the classroom at the speed that I find out about them. This lack of time to explore, test and implement things fully can be very frustrating at times as I don’t seem to be developing at the speed I would like to be.
Recently having thought about all this really put into perspective what our learners must feel like sometimes when they don’t realise how much they have developed their language skills. This reminds me of yet another teaching aspect I was picked up on during the Delta Orientation course: signposting. During the OC I never signposted to let students aware of what we were doing, why we were doing it and how it was contributing to their development. This was definitely another one of those moments mentioned previously: “How had I never thought how this might affect students motivation and development?”.
Signposting is not only good for our learners but ourselves too, it’s good to stop and think about where you were this time last year or this time five years ago so you can see how far you have come and how much you have learned. Writing this post I immediately thought of two things (signposting and process language) that I learned this year and have been a real help since becoming aware of them.
How aware are you of your professional development path? Have you signposted recently? What have you learned since this time last year? Maybe now is a good time to take a moment to think about it.