When I began this program I really did not understand the actual practice of teaching English as a foreign language or the weaknesses I would have to overcome. Looking back to my first day and where I started from to where I am now much has changed. I have learned new teaching techniques, reviewed grammar that seemed to be lost in my memory, and discovered the type of teacher I want to be. In this reflection I will detail how I progressed in these areas as well as others during my training.
Day one opened my eyes to areas that I needed improvement on. Grammar is unquestionably what will require the most work on my part. Knowing and applying the skill of grammar is a world apart from being able to teach and explain it in a clear and concise way. Through studying and constant board practices explaining grammar points using form, meaning, and use became a very natural and fluid process. During my progression in becoming more adept in teaching grammar points I gained valuable incite into teacher student communication by observing more skilled and experienced teachers give a class. What really help me advance in my teaching was not just being told what I did wrong but how the observers help point out my strengths. It goes without saying that a person must work on their weaknesses but it is equally as important to realize what you are good at and sharpen those skills. Personally, I have a very natural presence speaking in front of people and I can intertwine humor into my lessons easily to help alleviate some of the stress and provide a very welcoming and comfortable atmosphere.
My first teaching practice showed that I did not have the best classroom control. Additionally, my positioning in relation to my student was not the most comfortable for a pleasant learning environment. I would often loom over student and look onto their book because I was not aware that it could cause intimidation and nervousness for the student. After the class my observer provided some well received constructive criticism that brought several key issues to light. These type of corrections occurred after nearly every teaching practice. Instead of being offended I just understood that there is always room to improve. That attitude helped me progress and eventually present and lead a class with confidence and efficiency. Once I achieved the belief that I could teach the process became much easier.
In the beginning a lack of confidence created the majority of my issues. I felt like the book was the complete law and would almost teach in a robotic form never deviating from it. I noticed while watching my trainers, who were experienced TEFL teachers that the book was merely a reference point and that it did not dictate their class. Once I realized that and began to prepare different activities and explain lessons in my own words rather than just reading the book, the entire energy of my classes changed and the flow of the lesson was much more natural. Additionally, I learned that having a backup plan is always the wisest option. Even a slow student can come to class one day and just have a good day and just blow through your lesson plan faster than you would expect. This was the case for me in my first teaching practice.
I got caught with about fifteen minutes left in class and had nothing else prepared. My body language changed and I was basically a deer in headlights, frozen and confused as to where I should go next. Now I am always prepared with additional grammar points and activities just in case the situation arises again.
Coming from America I have a predisposition of how I thought schooling operates. What I expected and the realities are two very different things. The main hurdle that can be hard to overcome is a lack of materials. Many schools will not have a book or many other things that one might think is necessary to teach. When I began I did not considered that a school would not have a book to teach from. What each day taught me is that a book is not necessary and really is not that big of an issue. Now I am confident enough in my skills as a teacher that I am not worried whether or not the school provides materials or not. I have the knowledge of the subject and all I need is students who have a desire to learn and progress. Also, every student is different and probably have outside influences that will affect their learning. This is why you must get to know your students. I am fortunate that I am a patient man and am hard to get flustered because I had days where my students did not show up or they were in class physically but mentally they were miles away. Every class showed me the importance of knowing who you are teaching and what could help them or what could hinder them both inside the classroom and outside.