Sunday, 24 October 2010

The Legend of CELTA - Diminish Crap (Week Two Part 2)

I thought my lesson on Wednesday went quite well, considering the subject was collocation, a rather obscure aspect of the English language, but after the three of us taught that afternoon there was a lot of negativity in the comments we got from Boswell. In fact, she focused almost exclusively on the negatives, at least in group feedback. She has a habit of scowling during lessons, which is not the best thing for your confidence when you're standing in front of the class trying to remember what part of your lesson came next. But it seemed this was what this part of the course was about. Stamping out fundamental teaching errors. Keeping crap to a bear minimum.

On Thursday we started to look at what would be a big part of next week - teaching using authentic materials. On Tuesday and Wednesday we will, for the first time, plan a lesson from scratch ourselves using a real-world piece of listening or reading material. In our groups we had to decide on an overarching theme for our three lessons and then we had to decide who would do reading and who would do listening. We settled on Halloween/spookiness/fear as our theme in our subgroup, so that's what we'll be doing on Tuesday.

The Thursday teaching session with the other three teachers went fine mostly, though there was a hilarious point in Chris' lesson where he'd had the students reading interviews and then was getting them to interview each other. He demonstrated this by asking one of the questions, "When was the last time you cried?" to a student, who responded with, "At my grandmother's funeral." Chris' normally unbridled enthusiasm was given pause as he said, "Oh, I'm terribly sorry!" before it was let loose again with, "...but that's great!", referring to the student's ability to complete the demonstration. When this was taken out of context during post-game analysis we were struck with fits of the giggles for the rest of the session. In general the feedback was less negative, which made me wonder if their lessons really were better than ours the day before.

On Thursday we also got back Assignment 1. I passed, but I was in the overwhelming minority there. I think we were all surprised at how many of us had to resubmit. Some had more to do than others, but the whole thing is kind of a weight round everyone's necks while we have Assignment 2 for tomorrow (Monday), and we have to prepare our authentic lesson and then do Assignment 3, which is on how we would improve our authentic lesson.

Friday meant another lesson for me. This time Boswell instituted a new approach to feedback. She would write notes on pieces of paper and pass them along for us to write comments on. They were about things like whether whoever was teaching at that moment was doing things in the best way possible. When it came to my lesson I found it a little off-putting because there was some giggling going on as notes were passed, but it turned out to be about Chris being thorough with multiplication. When we got to feedback, mine was largely positive, which was a great relief, since my ego had taken a mild beating on Wednesday. I stayed on late-ish at the school to photocopy something from a textbook for the second assignment before going to the pub with some of the others. Alberto, a student from the Intermediate class we finished teaching on Monday, approached me asking me where I was from. He said he'd told his friend about a teacher he'd had who he didn't think was Scottish, didn't think English, maybe Australian or American, but very clear and easy to understand. I was flattered, and told him that I was Scottish really, but that maybe I watched too much TV as a child and Japan probably also messed up my accent.

This weekend I worked through Assignment 2 and still need to work on my authentic stuff tonight, because I have an assignment due for my Creative Writing course at the end of the week. Here commences the week of hell.

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