Well, everyone, today marks the end of my first week of intensive training to become a teacher of English to speakers of other languages. That’s 5 days down and 21 to go. I don’t have much time to indulge in the leisurely activity of blogging at the moment, so I’ll just share an edited Facebook status I posted this evening when I first got home. I think it sums up the first week pretty nicely.
- I’m exhausted! In the last two nights, I’ve slept a total of 9 hours. I don’t expect this to get much better any time soon, either. Methodology and language analysis sessions every morning + teaching practice or observation every afternoon + 4 or 5 hours of lesson planning or homework every night = a hard row to hoe.
- Writing lesson plans is truly an art … and a time-consuming one at that. Thank all the good teachers in your life for putting the effort into making good plans for what they taught you. Most of us have no idea how much thought and work go into that. That’s probably because the best teachers just make it look so easy.
- My first lesson to a group of real, live students was on Tuesday afternoon. It went really well even though I was nervous enough to feel like throwing up for two hours before it even started. My second lesson on Thursday was personally disappointing. I felt extremely stressed because of last-minute changes to the lesson plan. According to my evaluator, though, it went well. Today’s lesson, on the other hand, was nothing short of a disaster. I tried to accomplish too much, and my instructions weren’t clear enough or adequately reinforced. My evaluator didn’t argue with my self-assessment, but at least I didn’t get raked over the coals. Instead, she pointed out my strengths and was glad to see that I immediately recognized the areas where I overstretched. Maybe it’s a training rule not to crush your spirit at the outset? (By the way, “freer stage” lessons—for anyone who’s familiar with the concept—are not as easy as they seem.)
- Despite the exhaustion and the sporadic moments of disappointment and self-doubt, one thing I know is that I really like doing this and I want to do it well. There’s nothing better than seeing the moment “when the penny drops” (as one of our tutors says) and a student “gets” it.
Now I’m going to hit the sack and hopefully sleep soundly for at least 8 hours. With no lesson to teach tomorrow, at least I won’t be rehearsing “concept questions” in my head all night. The next lesson is Tuesday afternoon: listening and speaking skills for intermediate-level students. In the meantime, though, I’ve got a 1,000-word assignment to crank out and a student interview to prepare for. Keep your fingers crossed for me …
P.S. — In the Thursday morning methodology session, I learned how to say “orange juice”, “milk”, “water”, “tea”, and “whiskey” in Irish, as well as how to ask if you like one of these things, how to respond negatively or affirmatively, and how to say “thank you” … all without ever hearing a single word of English or even seeing a single word of Irish spelled out. Now, that was a spectacular teaching lesson. Go raibh maith agat, Margaret!
© 2012 Samuel Michael Bell, all rights reserved