I got the first chance to observe an experienced teacher on Tuesday. It was only the first two hours of a four-hour class, but it exhibited in reality what we’ve been dwelling on the theory of quite well.
Yesterday, I had quite some difficulty with my third practice. It all boils down to a microscopic level of planning that I just didn’t have. The problems I anticipated were not the problems that occurred and that threw my timing off and made the planned activities impossible to complete. The tutor’s words really strike home now as I’m preparing for my lesson for next week: “The lesson plan must read like a recipe that anyone could pick up, immediately understand, and be able to perform.”
In the real world, my lesson would have been quite adequate, but for the CELTA program there must be a somewhat unnatural level of exaggerated clarity. It stuck me that the course is just like a driving test. You may be a good driver and check your mirrors, but during the test you must be seen to visibly demonstrate that you are checking, pronouncedly crane your neck to look at the blind spots, etc. Even if your actions in the class are understood by everyone in the class, it’s still necessary to check off all the boxes for every element of a “good” lesson.
Last week was quite something. I taught my first 40 minute skill class on gist and detail reading. It went quite well but I need to work on time management and my own voice projection. After doing the reading class in the morning we had a tutorial on how to do a reading class. The reverse planning there was not such a bad thing.
Having the chance to observe the other trainees on Wednesday was almost a more valuable learning experience than the regular “learning” sessions. The afternoon session covered learner focused activities.
Coming up this week will be my first “professional” observation, my third day teaching, the submission of assignment one on grammar and language analysis, and an interview with a student in preparation for assignment two on learner style and motivation and how those traits inform effective lesson planning.
This first week of CELTA (yes, I know this is the second day but my particular on-site class sessions are on Wednesdays and Fridays) has been quite a whirlwind of activity. The class philosophy is on reflective learning rather than traditional knowledge transfer. This means rather than talking about teaching and observing teachers, we were immediately dumped into actual teaching (TP = Teaching Practice). They were at least kind enough to allow us a short time slot for the first time in the deep end, though I suspect that this was simply because it made sense for the new students and the new term rather than for any particular interest in my well-being.
Thursday I tried to figure out what exactly a lesson plan should be: the language, aims, stages, procedures, tests, and evidence. I cobbled together some forms (which was admittedly a slight procrastination-based-on-fear diversionary experimentation with the Pages app).
My “lesson” was a “running dictation” in which the grouped students would write up a one page description of a restaurant by individually running outside to read a text and repeating what could be remembered for a scribe to record. It went quite well considering I was frightened to death. I just started with a basic self-introduction before going into the activity and observed the other trainees after my slot. The new students in the class were amazingly good and came from all over the world (Singapore, Russia, Hong Kong, Vietnam, Malaysia, China, Spain, Thailand, France, Myanmar).