Tagged: teacher training

So you want to be a Celta Tutor? Part 4: Set…

image of Cambridge Assessment Celta Trainer in training Handbook cover

This is a series of posts on the ins and outs of becoming a Celta trainer.  You can find the previous posts here: part one, part two, part three.

Pre-course?

The purpose of the pre-course training phase is to familiarise you with the bulk of administrative and regulatory documentation produced by Cambridge Assessment and your training centre.  You need to be familiar with these documents to a very high degree, and you also need to become aware of any changes to these documents in a timely fashion.

This will involve a lot of desk study of handbooks, timetables, rotas, application forms and other paperwork.  The tasks your centre asks you to complete while inspecting these documents should get you to appraise them critically as well as relate them to each other.

Having said that, bear in mind that you are the novice in this relationship and it is generally better to ask for the reasons why something is arranged the way it is if this is not apparent to you, than it is to assume that the arrangement could be improved; there may be restraints of which you may not yet be fully aware.

In the TinT Handbook, Cambridge outlines 9 areas of study for the pre-course phase, each of which is linked to a task.  I won’t repeat completely what you will find in the handbook here, but instead make a few comments and give some tips of my own in relation to them.  Your own training supervisor may have other advice and if this is the case, follow their lead and see where it takes you.

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So you want to be a Celta trainer? Part 3: Ready…?

image of Cambridge Assessment Celta Trainer in training Handbook coverThis is part three of a series of posts on the ins and outs of training to be a Celta trainer. You can find part one and part two by clicking on those blue links you have just read past. Go ahead and catch up; we’ll wait for you.

The training plan?

So, you have found a Celta centre who wants to train you, and your application to start training has been approved by Cambridge Assessment: what next?

Basically, you embark on a training programme. How long this takes varies, but here are some variations:

  • You shadow a complete course (full-time or part-time) and towards the end start to do some of the work of a tutor under supervision
  • You shadow a complete course and then start to do some of the work of a tutor under supervision on a subsequent course
  • You do the above over a longer set of courses

When I trained up, I did it over one intensive course. I started by sitting in on everything – I basically attended and participated in a Celta course as if I were a trainee. I joined in discussions at times, and at others I sat apart and took notes. Sometimes my colleague in charge of the session would ask for my opinion as a trainee, sometimes as a peer, and sometimes as an observer. This happened mostly during input sessions but also during Teaching Practice (TP) guidance and feedback sessions. So I gained a very powerful sense of the course as it unfolded for a candidate.

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So you want to be a Celta trainer? Part 2: getting your feet in the starting blocks…

image of Cambridge Assessment Celta Trainer in training Handbook coverThis is part two in a series of posts describing and giving advice on the process of training to become a Celta trainer.  You can catch up with Part 1 here.

The training process?

How you are trained will be the same whichever centre you train at.  There will be a difference in how this training is assessed and how your work during the training process is moderated depending on at which centre you complete it.

Cambridge Assessment allows training that is either internally or externally moderated.

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So you want to be a Celta trainer? Part 1: getting to the starting line

image of Cambridge Assessment Celta Trainer in training Handbook coverWho says so?

You do.  You have been asking for help and advice on social media about the ins and outs of getting trained up as a Celta trainer.  This gave me the impetus to collect what I know and what I think about this area in a series of blog posts.  This is for you.

Why listen to me?

I have been a Celta trainer for 13 years and a Celta assessor for 10 years.  In that time, I have acted as a training supervisor and trained Trainers in Training (TinTs) in my capacity as a Celta trainer, and I have conducted external moderation of TinTs as a Celta assessor.  I have been through this process as a trainee, trainer, and assessor, in other words.  I think I know what I’m talking about.  I think I have something useful to say.  Take the following information, opinion, and advice for what it’s worth.

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Unplugged Radio Episode 6 – The Whites Of Their Eyes


Hello! Welcome to Teacher Training Unplugged Radio – my name is Anthony Gaughan.

(if you can’t see the podcast player above, click this link for the audio.)

There has been quite a long gap between episodes as Christmas and New Year got in the way. I had to do something to convince Father Christmas that I had been a good boy, however, so In the run-up to Christmas, I collaborated with Phil Wade and co-authored a short eBook on 5-minute self-reflection activities for teachers, which was a lot of fun and which you can get for free.

Now that we are well past the season to be jolly, I find myself back in the Hanseatic North of Germany, doing my day-job of working on Celta courses.

I’m working with a talented, thoughtful and enthusiastic group of beginning teachers at the moment, and they are making my job very easy in lots of ways.

We have just spent the past week getting to know the language learners who have signed up to participate in the Teaching Practice classes, and over the past few days, my trainees have dreamed up, designed and delivered some great lessons.

These lessons have focused on offering the students opportunities to listen to, or read, personal stories that the trainees were willing to share.

The teachers told stories ranging from losing a bunny out of a moving vehicle on the freeway, or seeing the Real Santa Claus doing his rounds, to the exquisite suffering brought on by not heeding a culinary warning.

This prompted the students to share wonderful stories of their own, my favorite being a childhood memory of a puppy running off with the Christmas goose.

No bunnies or puppies were harmed in the making of these lessons, by the way.

Though I’m afraid a goose was.

While I was watching these lessons, and while much was going well and was enjoyable to observe, I couldn’t help but notice something very small going on that was sometimes having quite a big impact on proceedings.

When I say “I saw something going on”, what I really ought to say is “I saw something not going on”, or at least, not when it really mattered.

Things are looking up

Let me take you into an imaginary classroom to show you what I mean.

Picture this: we are observing a teacher make the transition from their lead-in or warmer stage to the first of their listening tasks. It’s a simple, classic global understanding (or “gist”) type reason for listening, and it’s written on a handout that the teacher is about to give to the students. The teacher has checked in with the students and listened to what they got out of the warm-up task, and they decide now is the time to make the move to their story.

The teacher looks to their left, checks their notes, picks up their handouts, and starts to give their instruction. To save time, they get up, and start passing round their material, doing each student the courtesy of handing it to him or her personally. While the teacher is doing this, they continue to give their instruction, taking great care to pass out one handout to each student, and negotiating the crowded back end of the room, squeezing between the class table and their observing colleagues and me.

They get to the front of the room again and settle into starting their story. There is a mild disquiet in the room, and one of the less demure of the students gets the teacher’s attention and asks “what is it we should do?”

Now, you may be thinking: “if the teacher had only given the instruction before handing out the material, this would never have happened!”

And perhaps you are right.

It’s just that I have also seen the same outcome when materials followed instructions, so there must be something even more basic going on.

Or, as I say, not going on.

What was the teacher spending most of the time not looking at?

That’s right: the students.

“Keep an eye on the class” – but not for the reason you think

Eye contact is hugely important for all kinds of reasons in the classroom. Apart from helping in relationship building, which is important in itself, what I am noticing more and more is that were eye contact is lacking, class management problems increase.

When teachers give instructions without looking their students in the eye at the outset, and without maintaining this reasonably during the instruction-giving, then it makes no difference how otherwise clear, concise, comprehensive and concise the instruction was – students often don’t understand, or their attention was elsewhere and they missed it.

When teachers give instructions after getting everyone’s attention – and after they know that they have gotten everyone’s attention because they can see the group looking back at them – then even a sub-optimal instruction can do the job.

The importance of eye contact may be so obvious to those of you listening that you might think it is bizarre for me to make such a point of it.

But it is precisely because it is so obvious that it’s worth being reminded about.

Because when you are already heavily taxed by engaging in a new activity, managing a raft of paperwork and other strange artifacts like board-pens, with half a dozen people watching your every move in silence, insufficiently hidden behind the students you are determined not to let down or embarrass yourself in front of, then your ability to look out into the world and stare it in the face diminishes very quickly.

The unavoidable self-absorption of the novice – whether it be the novice teacher or the novice driver – leads to shortsightedness of very particular kinds.

For the driver, it starts with a difficulty to see much beyond the dashboard. Over time, peripheral vision opens up and something approaching safe, observant driving can occur.

For the teacher, it starts with a difficulty to lift our eyes from our lesson plan notes or other paperwork, and look the people with whom we are working in the eye. Over time, this channel of communication opens up and something approaching genuine, open communication can occur.

But given the importance of not only seeing the other people in the room, but really looking at them, what can we do in the mean time to help speed up the developmental process?

A second’s glance

One thing we can do is do one thing at a time – literally. The observed classroom is a very pressurized environment whatever we try to do to alleviate it, but precisely for this reason we need to focus on what we are doing, not on what is going on at the back of the room with our colleagues.

One way of doing this is to become willing to pay the price in time for focus.

Accept that each single step we take in the classroom may require our total focus and then give it that focus for the moment it requires.

So if we need to consult our notes, we consult our notes.

If the notes tell us to gather our task sheets and tell the students what to do next, we gather our task sheets.

Then we look up. And we make eye contact with the class.

And we move on from there.

That’s it for now on Teacher Training Unplugged Radio. If you liked what you heard, please share it, like it and leave a comment. I’d love to hear from you. For now, this is Anthony Gaughan, saying thank you for listening, and see you next time.

Celta Hamburg Podcast Episode 2

I just made a short podcast for my current Celta trainees up here in Hamburg, where I talk a bit about our general approach to training, teacher talk, language grading, task-setting, work management (less generally interesting unless you are on the course) and tips for passing the Focus on the Learner assignment (these tips may be generally useful for anyone).  It was recorded for a very select audience (you eight people know who you are!), but perhaps it’s interesting for anyone who likes reading my posts.

Shortcuts:
00:00 – introduction
01:27 – Using problems to drive learning
05:25 – teacher talk, keeping instructions simple, and task before text
11:50 – workload management and tips for passing the FoL first time
14:23 – closing

I’d be interested to hear what you think if you give this a listen (especially about whether you would like an audio version to accompany any future blogposts), so drop me a line if you do!

3 things beginning with E

cartoon of judge awarding 10 points

I spend almost all of my professional life doing one of two things: observing the work of trainee teachers on Celta initial teacher training courses, or observing the work of Celta tutors in my role as an appointed Assessor for the Celta award.

Both of these jobs present various challenges and raise many questions, but in the end it boils down to this:

“Is what I am looking at any good?”*

Answering the question of whether or not a lesson being taught by a trainee teacher is any good, or whether or not a training course being run by a team of teacher trainers is any good, is obviously not as straightforward a question to answer, as it is to pose.

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ELTChat Summary: what makes a good teacher trainer? (26 September 2012 9pm GMT)

This is a summary of an ELTChat for the benefit of the #ELTChat community

What do you get when you pose a question like this to a bunch of committed teachers and teacher trainers? Before anything else happens, you get an argument about definition of terms.

 09:01pm @victorhugor: What’s the difference between teacher trainer and teacher educator?

Marisa Constantinides found this link to a discussion of the distinction between Teacher training and teacher education (from his classic Aspects of Language Teaching).

The basic distinction that teacher training tended to occur more in a pre-service setting (hereafter: PRESET) whereas teacher education tended to happen more at in-service (hereafter: INSET) level was queried but not seriously disputed by most participants.

However, as the chat went on, it became clear that this “false dichotomy” (as I called it) led, once accepted, to some fairly radical statements about the nature of teacher training.

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the se7en deadly sins of elt – talk