Lizzie Pinard - how can you develop as a new teacher
What now? Well, I’m no teacher trainer yet (hoping to start an IH certificate course to train in that direction next academic year!) but nevertheless here are a few tips that have served me well thus far:
- Grow your language awareness
- Get Online
- Take opportunities
- Reading is a great way to learn more. You probably had a core text for your CELTA – perhaps Jim Scrivener’s Learning Teaching (like me!) or Jeremy Harmer’s The Practice of English Language Teaching -, which you dipped into during the course of your training. Read the rest of it. Then read the other one. General methodology books are a great starting point. Once you’ve exhausted them, branch out and read more specifically. For example, you could develop your knowledge of phonology and pronunciation teaching by reading Sound Foundations by Adrian Underhill. If you have the money to do so, subscribe to a teaching magazine like English Teaching Professional or Modern English Teacher. As well as helping you in the short-term, it will also lay solid foundations for further study and development.
- If you’re going to teach English, it helps to understand how English works. A good starting point for this is About Language by Scott Thornbury, which contains both information and exercises for you to work your way through. Language reference pages in Student Books can also be useful. You can’t learn All The Language all at once, but when you teach a language area, make a point of finding out more about it. Dip into that grammar book you got during your CELTA (it is probably written by a bird – Swan? Parrott? ;-)) and find out more than you already know.
- Are you in this as a career or as a travelling stopgap? If the former, find out more about where it can take you. Make a plan for how you’re going to develop and move in the direction that interests you. Having direction will help you when faced with decisions regarding jobs, courses, reading etc. Make short-term, medium term and long term goals, to give you something tangible to work towards.
- There is a huge amount of scope for developing professionally online. Use Twitter – follow the #ELTchat and #IATEFL hashtags, find more hash-tags relevant to your own teaching interests and participate in discussions. You will also find people sharing links to blogs, websites and various resources of interest. Follow their links and see if you find them useful/interesting. Follow them on Twitter so that you don’t miss what they share. Then start your own blog! Everybody has something to say and blogs make a great reflective tool for you to share your teaching experiences with others and seek their opinions. Participating in and summarizing an #ELTchat discussion is a great way to start. (It’s how I began my blog www.reflectiveteachingreflectivelearning.com ) And finally, don’t forget, of course, the Teaching English Facebook page, which is always packed with useful content. On this page, you can also participate regularly in discussions related to teaching and find out more about the courses that are run by the British Council. Its sister site, www.teachingenglish.org.uk, is another fantastic resource for a teacher who wants to develop.
- Take opportunities! Can you attend workshops run by your school? Regular input that you can apply in the classroom can be a great way to boost your teaching. Can you get to a conference? ELT Conferences are not just for experienced teachers: they are for all teachers! IATEFL, for example, has a range of conference attendance scholarships, some of which are aimed at new teachers. They also have a membership plan directed at new teachers, so why not join? Join a SIG that matches your interests too. Conferences are an invaluable experience. In fact, at my first conference, I discovered the existence of an M.A. ELT/Delta course at Leeds Metropolitan University (http://courses.leedsmet.ac.uk/elt_ma), which I later went on to do. I also discovered that there are hundreds of passionate individuals in our profession, and had the privilege of spending time with them and learning from them. Will your school support you in doing another training certificate? For example, International House Schools have access to IH teacher training, which runs a range of courses that could help you develop as a teacher.
Teaching is a wonderful career; I hope you enjoy your journey as much as I am enjoying mine! ☺