This week marked the end of my first term as a fully qualified EFL teacher. While I have only been volunteer teaching once per week for two hours, this really has been an amazing experience for me and I’m so glad I did it.
Confidence is a big and personal thing for me, and as many others do, it is something I really struggle with. Having this opportunity to develop my skills as a teacher without performance pressures at this early stage has been so beneficial in this way and I would recommend anyone to do it.
Don’t get me wrong, the CELTA course really does prepare you well for teaching on your own (it really does), but being on your own for the first time feels like such a big step. Those of you who read my post at the very beginning of the term will know how nervous I still was: I was so scared of messing things up, of not knowing, of the students not liking me or enjoying my lessons, but I was fine! Well, I definitely wasn’t as bad as I thought I would be.
While these worries haven’t completely gone away, (and I’m sure they will welcome me back with open arms when I start my next teaching position),I’ve definitely continued to improve since that very first lesson, and not just in my drawing skills.
First of all, I think the main thing I’ve learned over the last ten weeks is how much energy, positivity and enthusiasm can impact a lesson.
Let’s be honest, sitting in a classroom is not everyone’s dream evening, especially if you’ve already been working all day or you’re just heading for the night shift somewhere, and so keeping the energy up is key.
I’ve read this everywhere and I know you’re probably thinking yes whatever I’ve heard this before, but for me, while I knew this, it really clicked during this period. As the weeks went on I included even more discussion on various topics that students often got heated about and as my confidence grew I even included games and role playing, which I had been nervous to introduce before.
Essentially, I developed my character, my enthusiastic teacher alter ego. So, even if I was also tired and grumpy after a long day at work, I could still channel energy and excitement and the response was much more positive.
The other key thing I learned is the importance of measuring pace.
My first lessons were rather shakey, with loads of work sheets and gapfills and any other item of paper you could imagine. I over planned too much for them to do almost as a way to compensate for my worries, and it showed. I tried to push them to learn so much in just one short space of time, thinking two hours was hard to fill. Now I realise, two hours isn’t actually that much time – especially when you pace yourself, your students and the work accordingly.
Instead, they responded so much better to a more reasonable, slow pace, and I gradually made more time for discussing thoughts and ideas,as I had been taught in the CELTA, and really using and testing the language that they learned.
Again, however, this was also down to confidence.
Reflecting on the experience as a whole, I must say that it really surprised me how different it is teaching on your own than with the guidance and the safety of the CELTA course. However, I think that volunteering with IRMO was an invaluable baby step into the working world.
I still have so much to learn and so much space for development in my teaching, but for now I’m more than content in continuing to develop myself, my confidence in the classroom and in my own teaching style.
But that’s it, I’m completely hooked.
How have you developed throughout your teaching? Do you have any advice to share?
I’d like to thank IRMO for all their support and for allowing me to be let loose in their classrooms. It really has been a great opportunity and I am sad to leave.
You can find out more about IRMO here.