Turning CELTees into Successful NQTs

29 04 2012

Image With the second IH Teachers Online Conference approaching rapidly (Friday May 25th), as well as trying to arrange all the sessions and get the speakers up to speed,  I’ve been mulling over what to talk about myself on the day.  Since we’re celebrating 50 years of teacher training around the IH World (the first four-week course was held in June 1962) and as I’m an almost full-time CELTA trainer, I think what I’d like to discuss is how CELTA trainees can transition from the intensity of the course to a full-time teaching position, maintaining all the good habits they’ve formed on the course, while continuing to develop into more rounded teachers.

Which is where you come in!  Thinking back to your early days as an NQT (Newyl-Qualified Teacher), what helped you most to get to grips with a full timetable, a wider variety of coursebooks, completely different types of students, the need to inspire and motivate your learners, not to mention the paperwork this all entails?  And what would you change looking back over your first years of teaching.  What did you need that you didn’t have?  What would you like to take back and do over again?

I’d love to hear from you about your experiences and also what advice you’d give to today’s NQTs coming off CELTA courses and starting off in the wide world of ELT.  And as a little incentive, all contributors will receive an invite to the session on May 25th, so get commenting!

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15 responses

29 04 2012
Sandy Millin

Hi Neil,
I’ve written about this for my column in the next IH Journal 🙂
I think the most important thing for a new teacher is to get comprehensive support from the more senior teachers during their first year or two. At IH Brno we had a basic track of seminars which went back over everything we looked at on CELTA, but in more depth and with more of a chance to experiment with it. Because we had time to absorb the information, it gave us a really good grounding for the future.
Looking forward to your webinar!
Sandy

29 04 2012
mcneilmahon

Thanks for the comment Sandy – am looking forward to your article too (and your session at #IHTOC50)! I really like the sound of your seminars, I think we are sometimes too busy trying to do something new and cool and we forget that revisiting basic techniques and looking at how to exploit them to the full in different contexts is just as, if not more, beneficial.

29 04 2012
Emma O.

Hi Neil,

Regarding your last two questions, I would have spent only a year teaching post-CELTA and then done a follow-up course to address my weaknesses.
I would have also paid more attention to the bibliography lists from my CELTA course and started reading more teacher development books and experimented more.

29 04 2012
mcneilmahon

Hi Emma,

Thanks for your ideas. You sound very much like a CAM fan there? 🙂 Your suggestions make me wonder a couple of things – how easy is it for new teachers to be aware of their weaknesses and to be able to do things like reading around in order to address them successfully; and is there a danger new teachers focus too much on their weaknesses and it’s very important a means is available for celebrating and building on their strengths!

29 04 2012
Emma

Hi Neil,

Yes, CAM fan:) hehe this is part of my action plan.

I think that after doing the CELTA or some formal training, most teachers would know what things they need to work on.
As for reading up, this is something that can be done on the train/on the bus etc …I was just not aware of what good reads there were out there for things I needed to work on and I did not do much to actually find them-these are things I regret and wish I had changed.
Celebrating and building on strengths is also important but in my opinion, not attending to weaknesses properly makes it harder to have more balanced lessons and students suffer because of this.

29 04 2012
dzallocco

Hi Neil
Nice topic for your session! Thinking back I think it would have been wonderful to have more co-teaching experiences. I only got the chance to do it a couple of times after CELTA and I felt I learnt a lot from observing and being observed by a colleague.

30 04 2012
mcneilmahon

Hi Dani!
Yes, I’m a big fan of observation too – in all its guises. We really need to keep the habit of being regularly observed that we have from Celta teaching practice throughout our teaching careers – I learn so much everytime I go to watch one of our teachers, it’s a real pleasure of being a Director of Studies.

30 04 2012
Aldo Rodriguez

Hi Neil,
I think there are three things that are extremely important when you are a NQT. The first one, it is important to have a good mentor who must be someone in whom you can trust and have a reciprocal relationship. The second one, professional development courses are a must. If we believe that having a degree is enough we fail to see the dynamism going on in education. Finally, the third one, is being always humble in the sense that teaching is tied up with learning and vice versa. Therefore, it is important to know that when we are teaching we are always learning. Being aware of that is essential to be a good teacher.

30 04 2012
mcneilmahon

Hi Aldo,
Three great ideas there, many thanks. I think I might change professional development courses to professional development opportunities, mind, since there are so many ways to keep developing. Courses are obviously great for those of us who need help to continue developing in the right direction, or who maybe need a more structured approach – particularly the IH ones (www.ihonlinetraining,net) 🙂

30 04 2012
Julio Cesar

Hi Neil,
Celtees may feel like thrown in an ocean of dilemmas and possibilities and, more often than not, without proper supervision. Bearing this in mind, being at an institution that provides the NQT’s the necessary support is paramount. Moreover, as the name says, an initial teaching certificate is only the beginning of a long (if not endless) path. Attending workshops, reading ELT blogs, taking courses (I’m also a CAM fan :)), and sharing experiences, etc lay the foundations for higher ground. If one aspires to become a more experienced and resourceful teacher then, by all means, a certain dose of humility, curiosity and reflection is essential. We are always learning and that’s exactly what makes this profession so fascinating. Of course, for the more privileged ones who love being an eternal student of ELT, that is not a big deal! That is real pleasure.

30 04 2012
mcneilmahon

Hi Julio,
Love the combination of humility, curiosity and reflection, which also nicely reflects Aldo’s ideas below. I remember I became a teacher because I didn’t want to stop being a student!

30 04 2012
Eduardo Santos (@eltbakery)

Hi Neil,
Looking back at when I started teacher after my BTTC Course, I kind of missed more support from a DOS and other teachers. So, I think number1, should be support (as mentioned above by others). Maybe have a senior teacher mentor you.
The 2nd thing, is by doing Post Lesson Evaluation (PLE). I learnt a lot from my mistakes and by reflecting what went wrong right after each lesson.
Number 3: What really helped me was peer observation too. I remember observing experienced teachers and learning a lot from observation tasks and a chat with the teacher after the lesson.
Last but not least, I think that a learning diary is very effective in order to reflect on what has been done and actually see the changes and improvement as teacher.

In the end, all of these apply not only to NQTs but also to any teacher, don’t they? =]

Eduardo @eltbakery

30 04 2012
mcneilmahon

Hi Eduardo,
Many thanks for your ideas. I was also considering PLE, but in a way as a beginning of the next lesson plan. I.e. look back at the lesosn you taught and think about the best way of following this up, perhaps writing the aims of th enext lesson at least, so that you have them in mind over the next couple of days and can be on the look out for advice and resources in order to achieve those aims before you sit down to plan the next class in full. What do you reckon?

And yes, they all apply to all of us, however many years of experience you have, and I’m hoping many experienced teachers such as yourself will come along and help out during the session 🙂

6 05 2012
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[…] also had a fun idea about my own session at the conference on helping NQTs settle in to the job and survive their first year o….  But I think I’ll keep that under wraps for now so I have a little surprise ion store on […]

31 05 2012
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[…] input from people (mainly my former IHCAM and DELTA trainees) commenting on my previous blog post  ’Turning CELta candidates into successful NQTs’, I realised teachers may also appreciate some help with reflecting on their own teaching, both […]

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