My career in teaching English has been relatively short compared to some of my colleagues on the TESOL Diploma course. However, it has been just over three years of highs and lows and ultimately I know I have picked an area of study in which I am engaged and comfortable.
I received my CELTA in June 2016 after studying part time for almost half a year. However before this, I suppose my real start in education was my few years as a technician and ‘teaching assistant’ for the music and drama departments in a state secondary school. I graduated University with a qualification and focus in sound engineering and performing arts but after landing my first full-time ‘professional’ job in a local secondary school, I soon came to realised that what I enjoyed most about the job was working in an educational context.
My decision to move to EFL was a personal one. My partner is Spanish and in 2015 her brother moved to the UK to look for work. He initially had very little in the way of English language comprehension and had a difficult time in his first few months here. I offered to informally help him with his English here and there (even though I was in no way qualified) until I came to the realisation that I really enjoyed what I was doing. I happened to live opposite a language school and so decided to take the plunge and book myself onto a CELTA course at the beginning of 2016.
Since qualifying as a teacher I have worked consistently for a language school in Hove. My initial summer there was a ‘baptism of fire’ like most NQTs, where one often spends most of the lessons trying to fill the time with enough activities to engage the students. It wasn’t until I had a year of experience when I started to feel a little more confident and competent in the classroom, and therefore I was able to divert my attention to resource development and researching teaching techniques.
I have spent the last two summers as ‘Summer ADoS’ for my school, where I was still teaching in the afternoons after very busy mornings and lunchtimes dealing with administrative and pastoral issues. This has been fundamental in my development as a teacher, as I have often struggled with my planning time for classes (i.e; spend far too much time researching the best possible lesson material.) As I had little time to prepare my lessons, I have been experimenting with how to conduct a successful class with minimal prep or, as was often necessary, minimal resources. This experience, while challenging, has ultimately been one of the key turning points in my development as a teacher and it is something I am still pushing myself to improve to this day.
Which leads me to why I am undertaking this course. I feel as though the pedagogical knowledge gained from the CELTA has provided me with the tools and means to start my teaching career but in terms of personal development and becoming a truly great teacher, I feel it falls a bit flat. To better understand the deeper disciplinary knowledge of language learning and feel confident that my lessons are truly focused on the learners are my main desired outcomes over the next year. I hope to achieve this by researching and trialing techniques and methodologies in classrooms that are new to me, as well as striving to understand what aspects of grammar and materials are more conducive to effective learning goals being achieved by my students.