I find it difficult to put the reasons for reaching this point into words, now that I carefully consider them, because it seemed a completely natural step. Luckily, having considered them, I feel that I can have a go.
This kind of course is an avenue into seriously exploring your teaching potential, and equipping yourself for further self-development. As such, ever since coming to see English language teaching as a my vocation, I’ve seen it as an opportunity I should take when possible. I’ve been teaching for three years, (going on four), which is not many, but after an observation last year a colleague recommended that I asked the school I’m working for to put me through a Diploma, and I jumped at the chance.
From February 2017 until now, I’ve been working in the same school and this has given me the space and stability to consolidate my experiences and further build on the development I had undergone previously. Before that, I’d been teaching in Devon, Chile and Colombia in a wide variety of different contexts. Since settling down, I can really sense that there has been tangible development in the way I teach, and the way I view learning. Previously disparate experiences are now forming into a broader pattern, from which I can infer a clearer understanding of teaching and learning. One product of this is more of a focus on what my students are actually doing – I’m paying much more attention to their immediate and long term learning processes, and much less to my own classroom behaviour and actions, as they become second nature. I believe that I’m in a critical period in my development; I have to exploit it while I can.
Teaching language has captivated me since I began. At first, as for many other teachers I’m sure, the decision to teach felt like an obvious one – and also a great way to travel the world – but from my very first week post-CELTA, I realised that how we learn languages is intrinsically fascinating. I’m finding out more and more about it every day in classrooms, as are all EFL teachers, which is a joy. My priority is that this continues to the highest achievable degree throughout my career, and this demands effective autonomous learning on my part. Good autonomous learners need a proper toolkit, hence, here I am! Here are some specifics I hope to take away from this experience…
• A better, wider understanding of available methodologies and their qualities; There are countless ways to help somebody achieve their goals in learning a language – all of the aspects they may need to focus on multiplied by all of the approaches a teacher can adopt to make sure real learning is taking place. The processes and methods I have so far come across have reliably given me a valuable new angle to explore, and in most cases I’ve noticed a really positive effect on students’ learning or progress. The task based method, for example, is something I was made aware of last year and since then it’s seemed indispensable on many occasions. I’m genuinely excited to find out more about focused processes and techniques like these, and, more pertinently, wider approaches and methodologies, and what that could do for my classes in the short and long term.
• A higher awareness of my personal leanings and assumptions, and the power to inform or challenge them after they are identified; You often don’t notice whether a habit or belief you have is founded in reality and fact, or in your own inclinations. Personality has a big role to play in what kind of teachers we are – whether we are interventionists or facilitators, how we correct errors, how we stage a day or a week of lessons, what we expect of our students; in fact it can affect almost every aspect of teaching. That’s fine, but it’s always crucial to be able to dissect your own assumptions and apply more solidly grounded pedagogical theory to them to see if they hold up to it. Wider awareness of methodology is a key goal, as I explained, but I’m also hoping to get more practice in actually taking my teaching apart and rebuilding it, applying relevant theory along the way, and seeing how it looks afterwards – perhaps some elements will remain unchanged, but I suspect that, when challenged, more will either be added to and developed, or revisited. I’m curious to see myself through a different lens, and optimistic about the developmental potential of that process.
• Learner autonomy; No teacher should ever stop learning or adapting, and I don’t intend to – but I want to be able to do that in the best-informed, best-equipped way possible. I’m aiming to come away from this with the necessary skill set to control and guide my own development in the long term.