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Sandy Millin: Developing myself and others
I strongly believe that we should reflect constantly on our teaching and strive to be better teachers, and I hope I can pass this on to my teaching team.
Since I took my CELTA (Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults) 7 years ago, I’ve done a variety of other certificates, some financed wholly or in part by the institution I was working for at the time, others paid for out of my own pocket. These cover areas such as teaching business English, teaching young learners and teaching online. I have also done my DELTA (Diploma in English Language Teaching to Adults), during which I recorded myself teaching a couple of times and watched/ listened to myself. This was nerve-racking, but was one of the most valuable things I’ve ever done as a teacher. DELTA also prompted me to start reading methodology books and professional magazines. I have recently become a CELTA trainer, so I can now pass on my passion for teaching to the next generation of teachers.
Aside from earning bits of paper, I’ve also done a lot of other things. This includes social networking, reading and writing blogs, and attending and presenting at local, international and online conferences. The IATEFL conference is the highlight of my year every year, having attended three times. The first time I went in 2012 I was lucky enough to get a scholarship, the second time I was partly funded by my school, and the third was self-funded. I have been saving all year ready to go to Manchester 2015, because I don’t want to miss the opportunity to be inspired by teachers from all over the world.
The schools I’ve worked at have also run seminar programmes. One school had a peer observation programme, where we were asked to observe our peers at least twice a year. Another had a mentoring system, where more experienced teachers supported less experienced ones by offering advice, observations, and other things depending on the needs of each teacher.
So what can I offer my teachers? I want to organise a programme of developmental observations, where each teacher decides with me the best way for them to be observed, whether it be with me sitting through a whole lesson, or them video or audio recording themselves. Teachers will be encouraged to find the time to watch each other and reflect on what they see, supporting each other to raise the standard of the whole school. In addition to observations, I would like to set up a regular programme of seminars, for and by our small team of teachers and those from other local schools. Setting up an exchange network between schools should encourage cooperation and may eventually lead to a local teaching association, something which we currently lack in Sevastopol. As well as group development, I can also suggest webinars, blog posts and methodology books and articles for my teachers to watch or read based on their own weaknesses and areas they would like to develop.
I realise that all of this will require a lot of organisation, and that some teachers may be reluctant to use their personal time to develop their teaching, since it’s unlikely that any of this will be paid. I hope I can convey to them that professional development is worth our time, may lead to higher paid jobs and more professional respect, and ultimately makes us better teachers and improves our reputation, both individually and as a professional body.