As it were…..as I am going to write and publish this, but I may well edit it after I have read the stuff from other students in the class, as I suspect there is much for me to learn written therein.
What have I found useful in this course – oh, so very much….
On a light note, it has reacquainted me with blogging and with WordPress. It’s given me a lot of pleasure and upped my techie skills a bit, too. Never something to be sneezed at!
Much more seriously, this course came at a really good time. I’m at a crossroads, between being a student learning how to teach and someone who would like to stick not just a toe, but a firm foot into the tutor training waters.
I’ve been exposed to many different circumstances of teaching and many different ideas about how to teach in the last (nearly) 6 years. I’ve felt rather overwhelmed. I’ve been trying to assimilate all that I’ve been exposed to, so that it will change how I teach and so that I can share what I’ve learned with others teaching in the tutoring program, most of whom have had no background in pedagogy at all.
It hasn’t gone very well.
This course has given me a framework and a focus to start to do these things. I’m going back to the roots of what I’ve been taught, being reminded of what I’ve forgotten. I’ve taken to digging through my notes, old files and books, to find answers to discussion questions or to provide a concrete example. The Experiential Cycle has been useful as a way to process the past and to figure out what’s next. I’ve found several of the readings to be very helpful. They’ve really made me think about the details of Experiential learning and how to incorporate that into teacher/tutor training. And Loop Input looks really useful!
Last, but definitely not least, mere days before finding out about this course, I had been playing in my mind with the idea of reformulating my MA final project. I was thinking about evaluating what we tried in our tutoring program and incorporating an Experiential Lens as part of that. I’ve already added new questions for upcoming interviews with tutors for them to start connecting experience to practice. I’m drafting ideas for a tutor training program that reflects some of what I’ve learned in this course. I don’t know if that will make it into the paper, or if, given the crazy and frightening politics of our country right now, if I will ever be able to use those ideas, but one has to live in hope.
I would like to give credit where credit is due, by the way, so do let me know how to do that.
But it also has been challenging. Good challenges! I’ve realized that teacher training is a field with its own body of learning and expertise. I’ve still got a lot to learn. It’s become very clear to me that optimal learning in being a teacher requires just as much scaffolding as teaching EFL/ESL. You can’t just give potential tutors a lot of resources to read, have them shadow tutoring sessions until they feel comfortable. It seems like new tutors/teachers (myself and others) will learn best if all the parts of the Experiential Cycle are used. People need time to put the pieces together, experiment, get good feedback and go it again. It needs to be a more active, softly structured process. The readings really came in handy here.
I was also challenged by having to actually get down to details and turn things into lesson plans. One of the reasons I loved Tessa Woodward’s book was her portrayal of new teachers trying to come up with a lesson plan: wandering around staring into space, surrounded by crumpled up pieces of paper, and endless cups of tea.
So thank you for keeping my feet, ever so gently, to the fire. 🙂