ICEP TEFL Trainee Testimonial Erika

There are 3 keys to teaching: heart, knowledge, and confidence. Before coming here, I was all heart. Believing in education as the cornerstone of every community was the foundation of my desire in becoming a teacher. My discontent with the systematization of education compelled me to become a wrench in its machine. However, upon arriving to my TEFL certification course, I realized that I have a lot of work to do on myself before I can actively make a difference in education.

 

My Bachelor’s Degree in English Literature prepared me for most of the grammatical knowledge component of teaching EFL, but only teaching practices could help me with my lack of confidence. As a social introvert, I have an inclination to engage with people yet lack the ability to comfortably express myself in front of a group. So the tools and philosophies to be a great teacher are there, but only performing them could strengthen them.

 

Throughout my 10 teaching practices, I was put into a variety of different situations that brought out different aspects of my teaching style. My first two teaching practices were with Erika and they went well because she appealed to my strengths, mainly: patience and compassion. With her, I realized the importance of instilling confidence and motivation in my students and, also, when to move past something they just are not grasping. After Erika, who was on Essentials, I taught Sonia, who is much more advanced and quick to learn. The change of pace took me off guard, despite my observation, and I was blown completely off course (and off my lesson plan). For the first time, I experienced a deer in headlights moment and my confidence completely plummeted, but I had to get back out there. I realized that I was relying too heavily on a “structured” teaching approach, when I am a much more unconventional person. So, I incorporated more of my personality in with the next lesson and showed two YouTube videos to deviate from the norm; needless to say, it went much more smoothly. I was beginning to create the kind of teacher I want to be.

 

Nino (my TEFL Trainer) made it a point to express “attitude and confidence” when teaching, so I made sure to do so in my own quirky, nerdy kind of way. In lieu of an authoritative military teaching style, I emphasize the excitement and benefits of learning the language. By making sure the students understand the importance of education, I can instill motivation in them while making a fun-filled environment with activities and discourse. My young age, trendy appearance, and pop culture savviness make me an easy-to-approach mentor-like teacher figure. I relate easily to my students and build a rapport with them, but this can work two ways. One, it may create a bond that pushes them to work harder so as not to disappoint me, or, two, gives the students a reason to not work hard enough. When the latter occurs, I need to be able to innovate a new strategy to compel them.

 

With my last 5 teaching practices I taught the same three girls. This allowed me to max out my interpersonal strengths, and to work out my weaker skill: disciplining. The students are smart and friendly, but they never do their homework, they forget their book, and they shy away from hard work. I made the activities in class much more engaging, such as incorporating role playing activities, listening to songs and making lyrics grammatically correct, and I also thought to assign a fiction novel to read outside of the classroom. The problem with assigning a text outside of class is that my students do not have the means to access the book via internet and I do not have the funds to buy the book/print the pages for them. Because of these hindrances, I will allot class time to reading out loud and assign reading comprehension for homework. This class has reinstated my confidence and desire to teach, while I also note the different ways I have shown improvement and where I still need to improve.

 

There will always be room for growth and I am just beginning. I will continue perfecting my grammar knowledge, honing in on my lesson planning skills, and building on my classroom management abilities. The most students I have taught in front of is three, so I definitely need to prepare for a classroom of 20 if I want to teach higher levels of education. As I said, this is only the beginning and I am very excited to see all of the opportunities this TEFL certificate will create for me. It has truly been a learning experience both in my development as a teacher and, more importantly, as a person.

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