Monday, April 4, 2016

English teacher. Nice to meetcha. Blog post #7:The Home Stretch by Shannon Norman

The Home Shannon Norman

While all eleven TEFLers were a lot wiser after completing the theory training, a fair amount of growth still needed to take place. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the beauty of practical training at The Knowledge Workshop: GROWTH!

Practical training is challenging – hard work is required – but it is also extremely rewarding. Prospective teachers have the opportunity to apply their theoretical knowledge in an actual classroom and learn, very quickly, what it’s like to be an English teacher. I’ve mentored many teachers as the resident EFL Teacher at TKW, so this process wasn’t unfamiliar at all. Now, as TEFL facilitator, I was able to see more of the progress, and I did. This is what made my observation and experience of practical training that much more special.  I cannot think of any other situation where you’re able to learn the amount that you do in such a short space of time.

It all came together

The first group of TEFLers arrived at TKW looking rested and some of them slightly nervous. On their first day, TEFLers are eased into the process; they have a full day of observation starting with General English in the morning and English Conversation class in the afternoon. In their feedback session at the end of the day, it was evident that they had had a good day. However, there was something specific that I wanted to hear and I’m happy that I did. “It all makes sense now,” is what was said. BOOM! It was as if someone had poured honey into my ears. They were absolutely right – this is exactly what’s supposed to happen. As the abstract, theoretical notions started piecing together, a bigger picture began to emerge – and it all made sense! Imagine that! Anyway, the now more informed TEFLers began teaching the very next day. I could actually see the thought bubbles above their heads as I briefed them. Their creativity was well and truly ignited; the ideas were flowing. It was fantastic! And so the week progressed…

Each day, our resident teachers, Helen and Naureen, would relinquish more and more responsibility for their lessons to the trainees, until they were pretty much sitting back altogether on the Friday. It was at this point that the TEFLers would take full control of the lesson, but under the guidance of myself and the other resident teachers. This ensures someone is always on hand to manage the damage, and I believe this is what eased their minds. Nevertheless, they had most of the responsibility now on their shoulders and it was brilliant to see how my first group of TEFLers managed to do this like champions. You see, there’s something we tell the trainees all the time:  ‘Trust the process – the process is what will get you there’. It was clear that this group of trainees had taken this advice on board. They started at the bottom, but slowly, not without effort, made it to the top.

Shannon and some of her January TEFLers putting on their 'teacher' faces for their practical. 

…And that’s a wrap

Right, so as we all know, what goes up, must come down! J By the end of the week, everyone was quite happy to be able to say, “We did it, and we’re done!” Even though they were glad that practical training was over, they were equally just as sad. When you set foot into The Knowledge Workshop, you instantly become part of the community, and with practical training now over, they were saying goodbye to family.

All in all, it was week to remember. There were tons of laughs and many strong bonds were formed. Most importantly, our trainees were now ready for the world. I get excited at the thought of these newly qualified teachers in a classroom in some other part of the world planting their first seeds - actually teaching foreigners how to speak English!

The second group of trainees was soon to start at this point and I was happy for this process to unfold all over again. Come at me TEFLers! I’m ready for you! J

TEFLers, teachers and students at the end of January practical week 1.