Let the demons out!

by celtaconfessions

Let the demons out by Chiew Pang

Image copyright 2012 Chiew Pang

This is dedicated to Barry Jameson for “encouraging” me to let the demons out, as though I needed encouragement! 😉

Allow me to fast forward a couple of months or so… and allow me to “analyse” the detailed grading, or rather my detailed grading. I’d love to have the views of CELTA tutors… 😉

As regular readers must be aware by now, even if I had only arrived at Day 4, I felt I had been unfairly evaluated almost from the very beginning. Perhaps I’m really bad; that could also be possible. Why not? No-one has stood up for me, have they? But, still, this being a free world, and this being my blog, I can rant and rave all I want and feel good about it! 😉

The detailed grading is broken down into four categories:

  • Planning for the effective Teaching of Adults (their caps) – 7 components
  • Classroom Teaching Skills – 14 components
  • Awareness of the Teaching and Learning process – 5 components
  • Professional Development – 6 components

There are 4 different grades for each component: 1 = excellent; 2 = very good; 3 = to standard; 4 = requires attention.

If you think the CELTA grades shouldn’t be taken with a pinch of salt, take a look at these statistics from 2011: http://www.cambridgeesol.org/what-we-do/research/grade-stats/2011/celta.html 😉

Let’s begin the journey, shall we?

PTA

  • Identifying appropriate learning outcomes

I wonder if the tutor knows what he’s grading here. Tutors? Tell me. What deserves a 1, 2, 3 or a 4? How much can you identify when you see your group of between 9 to 15 students about, what, six times? That was in our case. So, should we be evaluated differently from those who see their students for twice as much? And how did he judge what I could or could not identify? I would really like to know. Well, actually, I’d like to know how he judged me on every component!

  • Planning for a learner-centred classroom

My priority had been, was, and is the learners. Probably more than the tutor’s himself. What grade would he give himself, I wonder. Lower than me? Remember my last post, about changing my warmer because the students looked as though they had had enough before I even started? OK, credit to him – he gave me a 2! It must have been a terribly difficult decision. But, why not a 1? What prevented him I wonder.

  • Selecting/designing tasks and activities appropriate for the learners, stage and aims.

Another good one. Most of the time it was he himself who suggested the tasks. So? Would he have preferred me to argue with his choice? And those activities I selected myself, personally, I thought they went down well. The learners enjoyed them, thought they were useful, etc. Perhaps my problem was that I hardly ever used the coursebook. Is that it? Because I was bold enough? Because I was creative enough? Because I believed in a learner-centred environment? Or perhaps he considered me a little arrogant bastard who had the nerve to neglect coursebooks, or adapted them to suit the learners’ needs?

  • Selecting, adapting and using an appropriate range of materials and resources.

This one made me laugh. I can bet you my bottom dollar someone who had stuck through thick and thin with the coursebooks had got better than the 3 he gave me. Oh, c’mon! Give me a frigging break! Oh, perhaps I got penalised for relying more on paperless materials and resources.

  • Presenting materials with professional appearance and regard to copyright requirements.

If there was clear proof of how difficult it was for him to award me a 1, this must be it. I was the only one who from the time we were told that it was necessary to cite the source, did it not only in the handouts, but also on my PowerPoint slides. What did I have to do? Ah, yes, perhaps use more coursebook materials? Tell me I’m arrogant, but I know what my PowerPoints are like. Some of them have been downloaded thousands of times from all over the world, so don’t talk to me about “professional appearance”. Do you want to know something? My main tutor probably has a minimal knowledge on tech; my secondary tutor was far ahead; I’m sure she appreciated my efforts more.

  • Anticipating potential difficulties with language and activities.

I’m of the view that the more you anticipate the better rather than the other way around. We’re not clairvoyants. The problem is when something arose which you hadn’t anticipated. All my lesson plans had very positive feedback, yet it was considered I deserved no more than a 3. Beats me.

  • Setting out details of staging and timing

If there was an area I could agree with, it’d probably be this one, although apart from one or two lessons, my timing was quite all right, I’d say. In any case, I don’t attach much importance to this component. If your learners are your priority, timing becomes quite secondary. You can’t rush learning, nor can you pigeonhole it into rigid time slots.

CTS

  • Establishing rapport and developing motivation

Giving me a 2 here can only be considered an insult, unless it was because I didn’t sing and dance in class nor go out and have a couple of beers with them at night…

  • Adjusting own language to meet level and needs of learners

All I know is that I often asked students (out of class) if they understood me, if they liked the lesson, etc. and their answers have always been very positive.

  • Giving clear instructions

I think I’ve dealt with this enough times, so I’ll pass on it. See The Ten Commandments.

  • Focusing on specific language.

A head-scratcher, this. What exactly are you grading here, CELTA trainers? Is specific language supposed to mean that which they are meant to be taught in any one lesson? Or does it mean something else? And if useful language emerges, something which can be considered essential, but it’s not directly related to the “language of the day”, what is the trainer supposed to do? I bet tutors have no guidelines on this and each one is left to grade as he sees fit.

  • Focusing on language skills and subskills.

So, why give me a 2 for this and a 3 for the above? That I focused better on their language skills than the language they used?

  • Conveying meaning in context

I wonder if he noticed the errors the others made as much as he did mine…

  • Checking learners’ understanding of language

I suppose what’s being graded here is how many CCQs you’ve used during your month-long course… 😉

  • Clarifying forms of language

I don’t want to sound arrogant, yet again, but I believe that I was the only one in the group who dared explain with marker on the board when students threw their grammar questions at us. Ask the students. I didn’t have to resort to ‘If you stay behind after class, I’ll explain” kind of delay tactics. So, give me a break.

  • providing natural, accurate and appropriate examples of written and spoken language.

Another of the many mysteries. Do tutors have to provide justification for each grade they awarded? If they do, mine must make interesting reading… to me, anyway!

  • Helping students with their pronunciation

For some reason unknown to me, my tutor never liked my drilling techniques. That was the impression I got. Because I dared to inject a bit more creativity into it? Maybe it was just because I didn’t have an Oxford accent.

  • Providing a full written record of the lesson and language

Oh-oh-oh, this must be a REAL JOKE, right? A 3???? Justify yourself, my dear tutor, if you dare! Where did I fall short? Because I used more paperless PowerPoints instead of tree-chopping handouts? If you look in my portfolio, you’ll find that I actually chopped some trees and filed hard copies of the slides, albeit in miniature forms (to minimise the tree-chopping, you see). Ah, I know. It’s because I failed to include instructions on one handout on my second TP. Ah, I’ve realised another. On my second TP, too, I did a warmer of which there was no record.

  • Identifying errors and sensitively correcting oral and written language.

Another it-beats-me star awarded!

  • providing appropriate practice activities

Ditto. This is getting to be a tad boring.

  • Monitoring and evaluating learners’ progress.

I bet it gets to a point sometimes when tutors must be so tired and bored, that they take pot luck and say, mmm, I’d better give a 2 on this one.

ATLP

  • Teaching with sensitivity to the needs, interest and background of the group
  • Organising the classroom to suit the learners and activity
  • Setting up and managing individual, pair, group and class work
  • Adopting a role appropriate to the aim/stage of the lesson and the teaching context
  • teaching in a way which helps to develop learner self-awareness and autonomy

What can I say, Mr Tutor? I don’t envy your job, your tasks. But, I’ll say this. The first room was so small, there wasn’t many, if any, possibilities of changes. In any case, it was fine the way it was for everyone for every activity. I even had them moving, remember?

In the other room, were you aware that it was I who, by simply moving a desk from one side of the room to the other, it gave us, the teachers much more room to move, and we could walk comfortably around the class to monitor the students? No, probably not, because I did it when you were not around and I didn’t think it necessary to shout about it. It wouldn’t surprise me if you hadn’t even noticed it in the first place!

PD

  • Assessing own teaching strengths and weaknesses and making practical use of this
  • Listening and learning from comments made by tutors, colleagues and students
  • Liaising with colleagues and commenting constructively on their lessons
  • Working independently and taking responsibility where appropriate
  • Attending fully, and arriving punctually
  • Professionalism

Hallelujah! It must have broken his pen to award me a 1 for the last two components! The rest of the PD got the it-beats-me award! For your information, Mr Tutor, I was always there for my colleagues. When Ingmar, Chris and Al couldn’t get their PowerPoint or the PC going, there I was. And when Hatty had doubts with wishes and regrets, I was there, too. And, Hatty, I know there’s only a one-in-a-billion chance you’ll read this, but if you had only asked for help the night before, I would have been there too and you wouldn’t have gone to bed at 4am and almost drowned in your own tears that day (and you would have also found out that I didn’t want anything in return). Freya, well, she hardly needed any help from me, but I think there might have been once, but I can’t remember for what it was.

And I was also there for some of the others not in my group… when they were nervous and needed calming, when they didn’t know how to download YouTube videos, when there were problems with printers, with pen drives, …

To end, let me ask another question. What about PD after CELTA, eh? I was surprised not a word was mentioned of this. I thought there was going to be an input session regarding this; I would even have volunteered to talk about it. There is life after CELTA, you know, and life after CELTA is, indeed, very different.

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