CELTA TRAINER-IN-TRAINING: Trainee Progress

This was one of the most interesting of the During CELTA tasks (a complete list is here) primarily because it allowed me, as a Trainer-in-Training, to track trainee progress along with my predictions and reflections throughout the course.

I had to pick four trainees in the first week of the course and reflect on their development through the four week intensive CELTA course, noting strengths and weaknesses in their teaching practice and response to TP feedback.

The course tutor had asked me to prepare a Find Someone Who for the first day of the course, as an introduction and ice-breaker activity. For this, I had to go through the candidate application forms and isolate interesting facts they had mentioned in their personal statements. I also needed to profile all the candidates before the start of the course for the Trainee Progress task. So I combined my efforts and made this killer table, killing two birds with one stone.

Trainee Name

Strengths To work on

Identifying info
(for Find Someone Who)

ABC

Some teaching experience
Rapport
Teaching ideas
Grammar
CLT methods
Egyptian
graduated in 95

DEF

Student centeredness
Written grammar
Rapport
Native speaker
Previous experience teaching EFL
Has done TEFL courses
Time management
Too much experience
British
has a degree in law
studied in Leeds, England

GHI

Previous teaching experience
Self-critical
Approachable
Communicative
Lecture-style teaching
Poor written skills 
Pakistani
works in PNU
MA in English
has a 5 month old kid

..and so on.

Using this trainee profile as a jumping board, I identified (in consultation with the Main Course Tutor) four trainees whose progress I wanted to follow throughout the course. The MCT recommended that I use the following criteria to make my selection:

Trainee 1: Strong performance in TP1 and TP2
Trainee 2: Weak performance in TP1 and TP2
Trainee 3&4: Average skill level

Then, at the end of each week, I made notes about the trainees’ progress thus far – my expectations vs. trainees’ reflections.

Here are some notes I made at the end of Week 2 of the course:

Trainee Name

Strengths To work on

Overall

ABC

Classroom materials
Quiet monitoring
Use of ICQs
TTT
Instructions
Grading language
Learner centeredness
Staging
ABC made huge strides from Week 1 to Week 2. She still had very high TTT and a completely teacher-centred approach during TP2 but the MCT informed me that there had been a huge improvement from TP1. I couldn’t observe her in TP3 again but according to MCT, there was again a significant improvement – a semblance of a CELTA lesson and evidence of classroom learning.

DEF

Grammar presentation
Drilling
Learner-centeredness
Long grammar presentation
Using demos
Staging
DEF started off Week 2 with a strong To standard lesson. More than anything else, she displayed evidence of taking SLP advice and inputs on board during her planning. The positive feedback also bumped up her confidence and she started taking a more active part in group discussion.

GHI

Planning
Classroom materials
Creating L-centered opportunities
Personalization
TTT
Instructions
Grading language
Staging
GHI made marked progress from Week 1 to Week 2. She introduced several opportunities for student-centred production and bravely tried several new activities that she had picked up from trainers during input sessions. She made an interesting comment after TP4 – which was probably her most student-centred lesson so far: she said she’d felt her class was completely ‘out of control’ and her classroom management was very poor. On further enquiry, it emerged that she considered a teacher-led classroom to be one with good classroom management. The trainers assured her that she was on the right track and should, in fact, aim to relinquish more control and allow her learners to interact with each other – therefore creating a more communicative classroom. GHI still has a very form-focused approach to teaching language, as was evident in TP4 where her grammar presentation was quite long, form-focused with little attention to clarification of meaning and pronunciation, and completely teacher-led. This led to high TTT too. I believe the trainers will expect to see an improvement in these areas in Week 3.

JKL

Classroom presence
Use of Ls as a resource
Kinesthetic activities
TTT
Teacher-centeredness
Due to her previous experience and fossilization of traditional teaching habits, JKL has probably made the slowest progress. However, this is not to say her progress is negligible. I observed her in TP3 and although she still had some of the same problems as before, there was a marked improvement in the variety of activities, strength in setting context with visuals. In several informal conversations, JKL also mentioned that it had dawned on her that she wished she had done this course earlier and understood the importance of student-centred, communicative teaching. It was touching that she said she had learned more in the last two weeks than in her twenty plus years of teaching.

Needless to say, the information I gathered every week and fed into this table was invaluable towards the end of the course when I started to write my evaluative essay. I believe I would’ve actually enjoyed reflecting in this way on all of the trainees’ progress. The best part about being a T-in-T is being able to flit between the two TP groups and seeing all of the trainees’ progress from the start of the course. For future T-in-Ts, I highly recommend taking 15-20 minutes every weekend during the course to jot down some thoughts for your chosen trainees’ progress.

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