A. I think my main strength is that I like interacting with people. In my career thus far I have worked in multi-disciplinary teams, made daily presentations and managed teams so working with people is natural and comfortable for me. I’m friendly, inclusive and approachable. I think this is an asset that will carry me far as a teacher. I have experienced teachers who were intimidating and I found it detrimental to my learning. I want my students to feel comfortable to ask me anything, repeat anything, or explain anything. I think that as time progresses in the classroom I’ll be able to develop good relationships with the students where they feel safe and uninhibited.
I am naturally and therefore normally well organised and prepared which I think is a key skill in ELT. At my university induction lecture the speaker said ‘fail to plan, and plan to fail’ which I think was valuable advice and which has stuck with me. Planning my lessons appropriately helps me to better understand what I’m teaching, embeds it in my mind so I’m more confident in delivering it and helps me to predict possible problems and their solutions. I think that as my confidence and skills grow I will be able to compose highly detailed lesson plans that will deliver my objectives.
I am a creative person and like devising innovative approaches to problems. I like to challenge the standard to create new ways of doing things. The results have engaged and generated new perspectives. I hope this will translate well into the classroom where I can devise games and exercises that will appeal to the students and accelerate their learning. As my confidence, knowledge and skills develop I plan to combine my own methods into my teaching.
My main weakness is my inability to express grammar rules and understand grammatical terminology such as ‘present continuous’. Although my primary school was strict with grammar, punctuation and spelling, we were not taught the labels of grammar terms beyond the basics of nouns, verbs, and adjectives. So whilst I can speak and write sentences that are clear and grammatically correct I am finding the terminology challenging. As an English language teacher this is obviously something that I need to remedy as soon as possible! I am studying several grammar reference books from the suggested reading list and using mind mapping to help me understand and learn the rules. I remind myself that I already know the grammar rules I just don’t know that I know them!
I have never used an interactive white board (IWB) before and have historically been reluctant to embrace new technology so I have not made full use of it as yet. As the teachers have used the IWB extensively in classes I have seen how convenient and flexible it is. I am keen to address this challenge as I believe it will be enormously beneficial to me in the classroom and therefore improve and accelerate my learners’ experiences. I am going to take advantage of break times to practise using it to build my confidence and then set myself a deadline to incorporate it into a lesson. I am sure that after using it in a few lessons I will feel more composed and will easily integrate it into classes.
I would like to improve my ability to communicate with the students in a more concise and succinct way. I have found that my instructions have been too complicated and lengthy and thus caused confusion. As well as cultivating this skill I’m going to try to integrate more gestures, demonstrations and pictures to resolve the issue. My research has produced a checklist for communication, (concise, concrete, clear, correct, coherent, complete), which I will use to test my instructions going forward.
B. I have been impressed with the eliciting skills of the Celta teachers. In particular James Johnson has been demonstrating how to proficiently organise materials and structure questions to draw out desired responses. He is adept at posing questions that produce the target language or lexis. His seamless ability has demonstrated how effective this technique is in encouraging the students to think for themselves rather than simply giving them the answer, keeping them alert and assessing their language level as well as understanding of the concept being taught. In this way he truly engages with the students and thus his lessons are memorable. This is a very unnatural communication for me so to be able to smoothly incorporate this skill into my teaching would be a triumph for me.
All of the teachers have a very calm, confident and charming disposition, which pervades the classroom. They are clearly highly skilled and experienced, which generates trust. I think these qualities are fundamental for effective learning. These qualities seem to be intrinsic to the instructors but I’m hoping that over time I will ripen or at least acquire the ability to convey a fraction of this demeanour.
C. When I have completed my Celta training I will be just at the beginning of my career so continuing professional development will be paramount to consolidate what I’ve learned so far, keep my skills up to date, learn new and different techniques from other teachers and experts, and keep abreast of industry trends. I love learning and developing myself and regularly take classes, workshops and courses for fun and personal development as well as career development, so I am highly motivated to continue my ELT development.
My research has made me aware of various online communities, which could be a great way to exchange ideas. I also intend to stay in touch with my peers on the course so we can continue to learn together, share experiences, ideas, problems and solutions.