Things seem to be happening very quickly at the moment. It honestly doesn’t seem like a huge amount of time has passed since I was finishing my CELTA, and then over summer I stumbled through Delta Module 2, and now I’m delivering teacher training sessions to my colleagues like that’s not an absolutely terrifying thing to be doing with only three years’ teaching experience.
Honestly, I have mixed feelings about the whole thing.
I gave my first ever teacher training session last year, to a small room of colleagues who had all opted to be there, on a topic that nobody was really talking about at my school (integrating pronunciation teaching into YL and teen classes, if you’re wondering). I really could not have set my expectations any lower, but my former Director of Studies and Senior Teacher gently coached me along and made me believe I had a valuable perspective to offer. In the end, I was really proud of the session I managed to write and deliver. I could see people engaging and responding to what I was saying. The response from my colleagues afterwards was surprisingly positive, and to tell the truth, it made me feel really empowered as a developing teacher.
About a week after that, I had the privilege of presenting the same session to the wonderful teachers of the IH Palermo Language Centre, while being gently cheered on by their lovely Director of Studies, which also did wonders for my confidence. I started to think that perhaps I was capable of presenting on more than one topic, and asked my DoS for ideas for future teacher training sessions – to which he (very wisely) replied that I should wait until I’d finished my Delta Module 2 and then see what took my fancy.
So I came back to school this September, my views on ELT forever changed, and I decided to write a session on getting students to do your prep, inspired by Ken Lackman’s work on the same subject. The ideas were already sketched out in my Delta notes, the slides seemed to magically come together over a weekend, and I talked it through briefly with a colleague. Things seemed to flow. But my former Director of Studies and Senior Teacher weren’t there anymore to coach me forward, and their replacements were busy enough getting to grips with their new jobs without me making extra demands on their time.
When I turned up on the day, ready to deliver my session, I ended up running back from two hours of external classes at the local high school, zig-zagging up and down staircases looking for the room that had been incorrectly entered on my timetable, clutching a pile of coloured paper in one hand and my handwritten notes in the other. Everyone was already inside, waiting, another meeting (that I was unaware of) having ended five minutes before. Scanning the faces in the room, I quickly realised the session had not been advertised as optional, and I’d be presenting to my peers as well as senior teachers and heads of department.
It didn’t feel great, guys. I really wasn’t proud of the way I delivered that session, even though I still feel that the core ideas and materials were solid. I was out of breath, conscious of the clock ticking away as I scrambled to get slides, web pages and paper materials set up. In an English-teaching classroom, it wouldn’t have phased me, but as a fledgling teacher trainer I just didn’t have the experience and self-confidence to pull it off. I spent the rest of the day alone at my desk, deconstructing the mess I had made.
OK, OK, it wasn’t half as bad as I’m making it sound. But it really felt like a huge dip in progress after the comparable success of the first session, and there doesn’t seem to be much I can do about it. Teacher training sessions are always going to be at the same time every week, so I’ll always be rushing back from external lessons without any time to turn things around. People will always have meetings that I don’t know about, and it seems like sessions will always be compulsory for my colleagues. I’m always going to be insecure about my teacher training skills, and I’ll always have to present to people with far more experience than me. So how are things ever going to change?
I don’t have an answer yet, but asking the question is the first step. Watch this space!