When I think back on my first year as a teacher, I still break into a cold sweat. At the time, I thought that I was doing the best I could, that is, the only teaching experience I had previously to my first position as a preschool teacher was two hours observation in a classroom down the hallway from me before being “thrown to the wolves”.
Knowing what I know now after nearly 20 years of being an “educator”, I see that I was barely surviving and had no real clue to what I was doing or maybe more importantly, why I was doing it.
Those familiar words by Sir Francis Bacon (1561-1626) have been with me all my life. Knowledge is infinite; there is never any end to our learning new things. Sure, the longer we work the more confident we become. All the answers seem to be on the tip of our tongues even before the questions are asked; all the techniques are familiar; all the coping mechanisms are in place. It is quite possible to conduct the same types of lessons year in, year out. Not only is the national curriculum rather a stable thing; the main grammar themes do not change much either.
After a quarter century of teaching I can share a secret: I have never envisioned myself as a teacher. Like many children, my first dream was that of selling ice-cream (and eating as much as I wished daily). Then I got wrapped up in the dream of making toys; I read all I could find on the subject and tried to create my own dolls with accessories. Through all the ten years of school I was first a participant and then editor of the school newspaper.
What is a teacher and, particularly a teacher of English Language Learner, supposed to do to be effective and maintain his/her sanity?
Here are four ways I try to do both:
One can also contemplate the different problems and difficulties a teacher experiences in a classroom while teaching and a profession as an English teacher is certainly not enviable. It is a career which throws up a wide range of challenges and which rarely cease.
When I had first started teaching, it took me hours to plan and prepare for a 90 minute lesson. I would sequence different activities only to realize that one or the other might not work because the materials I had chosen included language that was new to the students, or to realize that some of the activities did not really contribute to the aim of the lesson. I would plan too many activities, fearing that I would have extra time and not know what to do in class, and then become flustered when I did not reach lesson aims.
I worked as a primary teacher for 16 years and I have been working for 16 years as an English teacher at the secondary level.
After I had worked as a primary teacher for 5 years, I started feeling that the job was not suitable for me as I had the ability to teach English at a much higher level. I had reached the state of teaching Plateau. I used to feel that I did not get the job I deserved.
In my third year at Moscow university, when I was 19, I was offered a part-time teaching position by my own department to be paid on an hourly basis as a professor's assistant. I got two groups of first-year students, some of them a bit younger, some the same age and some older than I was. This was exactly what a wise student, that inevitable person familiar to all of us as the "class clown", shouted gleefully at our introductory seminar. I asked mildly, " Do you mean that you are ready to come out and teach vocabulary instead of me?" Silence.
In this post, I’ll outline some of the courses you can choose from and provide some useful information about each so you can better choose the best options for you.
TEFL training course (not the CELTA)
I am several decades from my first year in the classroom (at the front of it, as well as sitting at a desk), but I thought I’d offer you some Top Survival Tips for newer teachers and invite others to add theirs in the comments section. I do remember that first year – as you will, decades from now – and I cringe as I do so, on occasion, but I also remember the good stuff. I remember the moments when I realized something had clicked as well as those when something had crashed.