CELTA Teaching Practice – I Survived!

Celebratory lunch after the last teaching practice session

We finished our final (8th) teaching practice on Friday, and then celebrated with doughnuts that the upper-level class students brought in (they all chipped in — so thoughtful!).

For our final lesson we each picked the material for our lesson.  Mine was a vocabulary lesson, so I used visitor information for the Bass Pro Wonders of Wildlife Museum & Aquarium that opened a few months ago in Springfield, and Joe (one of the other teacher-trainees) followed up with a reading lesson also based on Wonders of Wildlife.  The topic was familiar to all of the students, which made teaching the vocabulary easier.  For controlled practice of the vocabulary, we played a guessing game (an adaptation of Taboo), with men against women — the students really got into the game.

Our students in both the upper and lower levels were wonderful — very patient with our stumbles, willing to try anything that we offered, and enthusiastic to learn.  If only all ESL teaching experiences were this positive!

After class and doughnuts, the teacher-trainees and our trainers (Jennifer J and Phil) celebrated at the Indian restaurant next door, where this photo was taken.  Jennifer J, Jen M and Phil were incredibly patient with us as well, even after sitting through each 3-hour class, annotating everything we did.  Their feedback was always timely, on point, and immediately usable.

Last steps — two more written assignments and finishing up the last 3 course units — in 2 more weeks I’ll be done!

CELTA Teaching Practice – Day 6

This will be a very quick update, since I have a “functions” lesson to plan tonight and this is my first time teaching this type of lesson.

Here’s Bear Village, my home sweet home (until Saturday afternoon):

Bear Village

My typical day (Tues-Sat last week; Mon-Fri this week) looks like this:

Between 5:30-7:00 am Wake up (earlier if I’ve been doing language analysis in my dreams)

7:45-8:00 am Walk from Bear Village to the teaching center (it was above freezing today — hallelujah!)

8:00-9:15 am Do last minute prep, make copies, get input from my trainer on my lesson plan

9:15-9:30 am Get myself set up in the classroom (are the computer & projector on? are there markers?  do I need any special supplies?)

Between 9:30am-12:30pm Teaching practice (there are 4 teacher-trainees in each teaching group; we each teach a 45-minute lesson on an assigned topic/skill/text)

12:45pm (since we never finish the teaching practice on time) to 1:30pm  Get lunch

1:30-1:45pm Write up & submit our self-evaluation of our teaching

1:45-2:45  Feedback with our teaching group & trainer

3:00 to about 4:00 Input (teaching methods, classroom management tips, good sources, CELTA housekeeping)

4:00-4:45 Lesson planning (with input from our trainer if requested); get the detailed written feedback from our trainers on each aspect of the lesson that we taught

4:45 Head back to the apartment

5:00-??? Eat a quick dinner with the roomies, plan the next day’s lesson (with presentation materials and handouts, with sources noted for everything that I didn’t originate), and complete and submit the prescribed cover page, procedure page(s), and language analysis.

The cover page requires:
– lesson type
– main aim
– sub aims
– personal aims (what do I plan to do to improve my teaching based on the day’s feedback)
– assumptions
– anticipated classroom management problems and planned solutions
– my board plan for the lesson (how I will use the white board)

The procedure page requires the following for each stage:
– timing
– interaction pattern (teacher talking to students? students working alone? students working together?)
– stage name
– stage aim (why am I doing this?)
– procedure description (exactly what will I do & how will I do it?)
My lessons usually have about 6 stages, plus an extension activity in case the class finished the planned work early.

The language analysis requires the following for each language item to be clarified (and there are usually 5 per lesson):
– meaning
– how you will clarify the meaning (concept-checking questions)
– form analysis
– pronunciation analysis
– appropriacy
– anticipated problems with the language and planned solutions
– a listing of all sources used for the analysis (thank you, Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English!)

Grammar lessons also require guided discovery — questions/activities that encourage the students to discover the rules of the grammar topic for themselves.  The two grammar lessons have been the two lessons that kept me up until 1:30-2:00am; usually I’m done by 10:30-11:00pm.

Just to add to the fun, tomorrow we’ll be observed and interviewed by the CELTA assessor (from Cambridge University).  Cambridge has an assessor go to every CELTA program (every session, around the world) to ensure that the CELTA centers are meeting Cambridge standards and are assessing CELTA candidates uniformly.  The assessor will watch 4 teacher-trainee’s lessons tomorrow (yes, I’m one of the four, and am teaching a lesson type that I haven’t taught before).

We enjoyed the balmy “beach weather” (high 50s) today.  Tomorrow, the temperature is expected to drop from 54 degrees (at llam) to 27 degrees (by 6pm), with a forecast of freezing rain and the possibility of snow.  (Welcome to Springfield, Mr. CELTA Assessor!)

Weather forecast

CELTA Teaching Practice – Day 4

Five students

Well, I’ve made it halfway through my two-week teaching practice — I finished my fourth (of eight) lesson today (Saturday).  Here are another 5 of our wonderful students, and one of my co-teachers (Anthony).  Next week my teaching group will move to the higher-level students, and the other teaching group will teach the students that we taught this week.

Quick update:

Thursday:  I was able to fit the monkey-selfie into my listening lesson (Teaching Practice #2 on wildlife photography).  The students enjoyed the picture, but the planned discussion of who owns a picture taken by an animal required quite a bit of explanation (such as the word “own”, to start with).

That evening we had pizza delivered, and invited two of the other out-of-town teachers (living downstairs) to join us.  This was a welcome break during a hellacious grammar lesson-planning night, that didn’t end until 2am.  The challenge:  coming up with guided discovery (questions to ask the students for them to discover the grammar rules themselves) for when to use the quantifiers some, any, many, much, a little, a few, a lot of, and no, within a 45-minute lesson.  The correct use depends on whether the noun being modified is countable or uncountable, and whether it is in a positive statement, negative statement, or a question.  I was able to create a guided discovery activity to do this, but it certainly wasn’t easy.

Friday:  I gave the grammar lesson (Teaching Practice #3), and the students (and I) survived, but they looked a bit dazed by the end.  Fortunately, I was able to finish lesson-planning for my Saturday lesson by 10pm Friday, so I got a decent night’s sleep.

Saturday (today):  For my writing lesson today (Teaching Practice #4), I introduced myself as a Marketing Director in need of help for a survey.  The students seemed to enjoy the bit of role-playing.  The lesson (on writing about your opinion) went OK.  The writing assignment was to answer the question “Could you live without social media?”  I was astounded by the writing level of some of these “lower level” students — one student (who struggles with listening and even more with speaking) included the sentence “I treasure my leisure time”.  One technique that worked really well was to have the students write on the board; this let me see their challenges (and good examples) quickly.

After teaching practice we had a working lunch (with delicious food from Leslie’s Mexican Cafe and Bakery), then a feedback session with our trainer and an introduction to our new trainers for next week.  Then Anna, Deb and I hit the grocery store for food for the coming week.  The groceries, plus the leftovers from today’s lunch, should get us through to next Saturday.

There’s a winter weather advisory for freezing rain and ice accumulation tomorrow (Sunday), so I’m planning on (a) sleeping in, (b) doing laundry, and (c) starting to take a look at the lessons I’ll need to plan for next week.

On a final note, here’s how you know you’re in a building that sees a *lot* of newly-arrived immigrants, students and visitors from Asia, the Middle East and Africa:

Notice in bathroom

CELTA Teaching Practice — Day 2

 

TheStudents

These are four of our wonderful (and very tolerant) students.  They’re wearing winter coats in the classroom because the HVAC isn’t working well — the room was 62 degrees and they gamely put up with 4 neophyte teachers for 3 hours.

My vocabulary lesson this morning went well — everyone participated and they seemed to enjoy the relay-race game.  Teaching practice sessions are judged either “At Standard” or “Below Standard”, and my lesson was At Standard (so I’m happy).

My lesson for tomorrow is a listening lesson, with an audio text about three wildlife photos.  I’m relieved that I have finished my prep for tomorrow morning’s lesson (and it’s only 8pm), so I have a chance to start on Friday’s lesson (a grammar lesson) tonight.

Hopefully tomorrow when the MSU offices re-open we’ll be able to get help:
– getting the classrooms up to a comfortable temperature
– getting Wifi access in the building, and
– getting the computers in the computer lab to recognize the printer in the computer lab.

CELTA Teaching Practice – Day 1

Going to the store

I still haven’t mastered the art of covering my nose from 2 degree windchill without fogging my glasses. This was me on the walk to get supplies for dinner. Today’s challenge: making black bean soup without a can opener, cutting board or colander. However, it was hot, so that was enough.

My TP (teaching practice) group includes Alicia, Joe and Anthony.  We’ll be teaching 13 pre-intermediate students this week, and 12 advanced intermediate students next week.  The majority of our students attend Missouri State, along with two older adults and a recent high school graduate.  Ten are from China, two are from Mexico and one is from India.

We met our students today and observed two lessons. I’m first up tomorrow, with a vocabulary lesson relating to free-time activities. (Which is kind of an ironic topic, since we’ve been warned that we we will have 0 free time & no life for the next 2 weeks.)

My lesson topic for Thursday is a listening skills lesson around wildlife photography. I’ll try to find a way to work in the monkey selfie:

Monkey selfie

CELTA Teaching Practice – Arrival Day

Student housing

This will be my home for the next two weeks while I do my teaching practice for a CELTA (Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults) through Missouri State University in beautiful downtown Springfield, Missouri.  I’m sharing a 4-bedroom/4-bath student apartment with three other women in my CELTA cohort — Anna, Alicia and Deb.  It’s a very nice new apartment complex — my only fear is that I’ll lock myself out of my bedroom if I forget the number combination for my door (and don’t have my purse or phone with me).  Maybe it’s time to get a tattoo!

It’s currently a balmy 7°F, with a wind chill of -2°, but it’s expected to get above freezing by Saturday.  Fortunately, two of my roommates drove here, so we’ll do ride-sharing to & from class, at least until it warms up a little.

Tomorrow (Tuesday) we meet our students, observe 3 lessons, and do our final lesson planning.  Then we teach a 45 minute lesson every day through Saturday, and teach four more lessons next week.  This week I’m assigned to the lower-level class; next week I’ll be with the upper-level class.  Tomorrow I’ll find out how many students I’ll be teaching and get a better idea of their English level (advanced beginner or lower intermediate).

CELTA Teaching Practice – Arrival Day

Student housing

This will be my home for the next two weeks while I do my teaching practice for a CELTA (Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults) through Missouri State University in beautiful downtown Springfield, Missouri.  I’m sharing a 4-bedroom/4-bath student apartment with three other women in my CELTA cohort — Anna, Alicia and Deb.  It’s a very nice new apartment complex — my only fear is that I’ll lock myself out of my bedroom if I forget the number combination for my door (and don’t have my purse or phone with me).  Maybe it’s time to get a tattoo!

It’s currently a balmy 7°F, with a wind chill of -2°, but it’s expected to get above freezing by Saturday.  Fortunately, two of my roommates drove here, so we’ll do ride-sharing to & from class, at least until it warms up a little.

Tomorrow (Tuesday) we meet our students, observe 3 lessons, and do our final lesson planning.  Then we teach a 45 minute lesson every day through Saturday, and teach four more lessons next week.  This week I’m assigned to the lower-level class; next week I’ll be with the upper-level class.  Tomorrow I’ll find out how many students I’ll be teaching and get a better idea of their English level (advanced beginner or lower intermediate).