Today I went to chat to a brilliant group of CELTA trainees and this is what I told them…
- Buy shares in Google! Yes I passed my CELTA so long ago it was called a CTEFLA, and it was 5 years before Google was created!I would have been a millionaire by now!
2. We are all learners- always; reminding your students that you are also a learner, but that you’ve just been learning longer than them, will create a bond between you. Also be that learner, this is one of the careers that requires the most continual professional development, look how far we’ve come since I was taught to P-P-P and used real carbon copy to, erm carbon copy.
There are several simple ways to keep your CPD up to date; one of my favourites is going to conferences, in pre-covid days arriving at IATEFL conference or an ETAS event always reminded me of this scene:
But there are also tons of webinars and resources online. the best way however is to become member of an ELT association, I suggest your national one and IATEFL. When joining IATEFL you can choose a special interest group (SIG), here you have a choice of 16 – from literature to business, via pronunciation and technology. Faced with such a choice I obviously advise IP&SEN, because let’s face it, if you have real, life students, you will have students with learning differences. Also by promoting a more inclusive classroom, you will be supporting ALL your learners, and not just a token selection.
3. It’s OK to make mistakes, and to encourage your students to do so as well, that’s how we learn, and by being honest with your students you will develop a much better relationship with them, as well as modelling the vulnerability that makes a great learner. This means saying “I don’t know, I’ll find out” rather than “oh what a coincidence, we’re doing that in the next lesson” and then dashing off to find out the answer!
4. The lesson will never go according to plan, so…
5. If an activity isn’t working, dump it. This doesn’t mean planning two or three lessons, but do have a couple of things up your sleeve for when the beamer lets you down. Pyramid discussions are easy to set up as are, group projects on the topic at hand; create your ideal school/pub/fruit salad/English lesson.
6. We are all on the same side and have the same objective. This is particularly worth reminding teens from time to time.
7. On the subject of classroom management, the person who said “don’t smile ’til Christmas” sounds like a right numpty, I definitely wouldn’t want to work with them! For everyone’s sake – show you’re students you are happy to see them, if only because smiles are contagious and they may smile back at you!
8. Another classroom management gem; Sweat the Small Stuff. If you’ve said no chewing gum and you spot it, call it out. If you want Johnny to stop chatting then ask him politely to do so and explain why. Explain the rules, even when they’re obvious to you. This makes it clear that the reason I want you to stop talking is so that you and your neighbour can hear the instructions and therefore successfully accomplish this project, not because I’m a fascist who enjoys telling people what to do all the time.
9. Although this sounds like a contradiction to my previous point, I also believe that everybody (including you!) is allowed an off day, and quietly suggesting that Johnny appears to be having one today, would he like to just do something quietly to one side and we’ll have a chat later? is definitely easier to deal with than backing him into a corner, in fact never back anyone into a corner, even if they do cow down to you they will resent you for it for ever – and more importantly – so will the rest of the class. In fact, the better students will judge you on how you treat the most challenging elements of your class, so always give a get-out option ( e.g. you can calm down and continue the activity or do something quietly in the corner while the others finish).
10. Finally, you will never, ever, finish your work, or catch up, so Get a Life, and sure to live it,
even especially when you are busy – which will be all the time. That means don’t cancel drinks with mates or your yoga session, your students will thank you for this!
What would your ten tips to the newbie you be?