Well, my third course has just finished and everything went quite smoothly. All 12 candidates made it to the end, and despite a couple of ups and downs for a couple of teachers/trainees towards the end of Week 3, all 12 candidates completed the course successfully.
That, coupled with some great comments and feedback from the trainees about both the tutors and the course in general, really made my day, or month, rather...
So, some brief comments on handling the CELTA course. What worked well? What did I have trouble with? What do I want to keep working on? Let's see... in my slightly burnt out memory, what is there...
10 Teaching Practice Classes (8x30min, 2x60min).
I've decided that I prefer the other alternative I've worked with - 8 TP Classes (6x40min, 2x60min) for a variety of reasons:
- Lesson Plans and accompanying cover sheets are extremely detailed, and having 2 fewer classes reduces trainees workloads significantly.
- Similarly, having 8 classes means trainees always have two days between classes, which means more time to think over the lesson and plan more carefully.
- The shorter lessons make it much more difficult for trainees to cover all their lesson aims. With the 40min classes they're much more likely to provide appropriate time for productive practice - meaning better, more effective lessons.
- Despite being the same number of hours in reality, it's much trickier to divide the book up. The difference between 48 lessons and 60 lessons is quite significant, and when trainers are working to ensure teachers have a variety of different lesson types as well as get to teach at different times (eg. 1st for the day, last for the day, etc), those 12 extra lessons mean a lot more thought and work involved.
- ...and several other points that I think I've mentioned in an earlier blog...
Feedback on Classes that are Below Standard
There's always something good in a lesson, and feedback on lessons is divided into 'strengths' and 'areas to work on', so there's not much negativity involved (and yes, there's a big difference between 'areas to work on' and 'weaknesses' - see below for my take on it). But still... trainees, under huge pressure, are naturally not going to take feedback well when the lesson was clearly below standard.
You have to point out the ares in which the lesson missed the mark, and no matter how much good you are able to bring to light, most trainees are going to assume 'you're just saying that to make me feel better' (rarely true, but that's what they'll assume). Tough... and I'm not sure I deal with it well enough yet... and, unfortunately, it's one area that you don't WANT to get more practice in. Oh, well...
Areas to Work On vs Weaknesses
Not just a feel-good change of wording to throw a positive spin on something, trainees need to understand that an area to work on is not necessarily a weakness. Let's do the number thing:
Rapport: 80pts. Boardwork: 76pts. Vocab presentation: 25pts. Everything else: 50pts.
Strengths: Rapport & Boardwork. Weaknesses: Vocab presentation. Areas to Work On: Vocab presentation and 'everything else'
Rapport: 90pts. Boardwork: 86pts. Vocab presentation: 65pts. Everything else: 78pts.
Rapport & Boardwork. Weaknesses: none. Areas to
Work On: Vocab presentation.
... let me think about the course more... but I have to rush now...
And God bless,