CELTA Trainer-in-Training: Teaching Practice Observations

Here’s another one in the series of CELTA T-in-T preparation posts.

This task was the meat of the month long intensive course. This is where I had to observe trainees on their teaching practice (TP) along with the main course tutor and assistant course tutor (or tutors, as may be the case. On my course, due to unavoidable circumstances, we had three!), and shadow write the feedback.

According to the guidelines in the CELTA Trainer-in-training handbook, I only needed to make a note of 2-3 strengths and a similar number of points to focus on. The main course tutor, however, sent me a template of the feedback form (I’ve attached the template file below) she used and it was a lot more detailed – with a running commentary on the lesson. Later, I found out she was a shorthand specialist (she used shorthand for her Teaching Literacy input session) and was able to make very detailed notes in no time during the lessons. I guess it also helped she has more than ten years experience as a CELTA tutor.

Anyhoo, she can shorthand, I can type. Fast. Really fast. So I hauled my laptop in to work everyday and typed up a full feedback from the first TP I observed. At the end of the day, I had to send my TP feedback to the tutor with my list of 3 strengths and 3 points-to-work-on (gah, I’m going to cut the c@&p and call them ‘weaknesses’ from here on). This was the difficult part for me. It is obviously important for the Trainer-in-Training to highlight nearly the same strengths and weaknesses as the tutors on the course but I got a bit stressed trying to second guess which points the tutors might highlight. In hindsight, of course, there were times I was going to identify the same strengths and weaknesses as the pros, and times when I’d prioritize other points.

Although the MCT didn’t expect me to write a detailed commentary from the start of the course, I didn’t really find this very challenging. After all, I was sitting in on these observations anyway and would’ve had to make my own notes for observation feedback. I just made those notes in the matrix of the official TP Observation feedback template. In fact, doing this from the start was quite good practice for later on in the course when one of the tutors had to fly out of the country unexpectedly and I was the only one available to sit in on the observation (yes, I actually did an official CELTA observation and the Main Course Tutor was mortified that the external assessor and Cambridge were going to cancel the course! Didn’t happen – the external assessor was quite understanding of the precarious position we were in that sunny August afternoon).

So here’s the Teaching Practice Observation Feedback Template  we used. I do highly recommend making detailed notes from the start of the course. They help greatly with hot or cold feedback – after observing two or three trainees teach godawful lessons, my eyes began to glaze over and my brain turned to mush. Detailed notes meant I was able to give targeted feedback without getting muddled about who skipped ICQs and who asked too many.

Ta da.

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