Send in the Clones?
Tomorrow it begins all over again. The first day nerves. The introductions. The expectations. The excitement. The trepidation. The fear.
Tomorrow is Celta Day One.
At 10.30 am I will meet the group of people who I will be working with for the next four weeks. Each of them will arrive with their own beliefs and principles about teaching. They will all have certain expectations of themselves, the course and the tutors. There will be different levels of classroom experience. The motivations for taking the course will all be different. They will have different skills and styles. They will be different people.
But one thing will be the same: They will all want to learn about teaching English and will expect to walk out of the course in four weeks being better able to teach than when they walked in.
They will need me to be supportive, respectful and trusting of them. I need to make sure that I give them the autonomy to make decisions based upon what they believe, but also that I am there to adjust any thinking that I know won’t work. It comes back to this element of control. Willy Cardoso commented on my last post:
I’d also be interested to know how trainees see trainers in relation to control, and also how trainers see themselves when trying, in one way or another, to control what/how trainees do.
I can’t comment on the trainees’ perspective at the moment, but I plan to carry out some research during this Celta to find out. Watch this space. (Any ideas on exactly how to do this would be much appreciated too!)
How do I see myself when being a trainer? On the one hand, I am there to give ideas, teach techniques and highlight areas that could be a hindrance to the students in the classroom. But on the other hand, I have to remember that they aren’t me and they aren’t trying to be me. We don’t want clones, we want teachers who can go out into the world of TEFL armed with knowledge, ideas and skills. How they each interpret the input they receive is up to them and down to their experience of the world they inhabit, which is not the same world as me.
The balance of control vs freedom can be really tough to get right. On the last course, for example, I had to give feedback to a couple of the trainees in particular on their body language. Who am I to tell someone how to sit or how much to move, for crying out loud?!! But it’s these elements of feedback that form part of the inwardly analytical process that all the trainees go through; they need to realise what they are doing and how it can affect a lesson/rapport with their students etc… But I don’t feel comfortable doing it. Not in the slightest. Despite the fact that I know it’s part of what I’m there for and that it can help with their ultimate goal of becoming better teachers. Making decisions about whether to comment on certain points in their teaching practice is a tough job – is it really necessary or am I being overly pedantic/critical/controlling? Maybe the control I have over the trainees is also down to my expectations of both myself and of them? I know I am a perfectionist and therefore a bit of a control freak I suppose, so I guess I consciously monitor the amount that I proscribe and expect from the trainees because I am aware that I run the risk of disturbing the balance.
On the Celta I teach, we don’t allocate course book material for the trainees to teach. We expect them to come up with their own ideas for lessons (unlike when I did my Celta at a different centre and we were given pages from books to teach). This means we have already handed over a lot of the control to them and we take the role of supporting and fine-tuning their ideas. I would like to think that by handing this over to them from the beginning, we are setting them up to be autonomous and alleviating ourselves from the role of dictator?
Gosh, this subject has really got my mind running at one hundred miles a hour. I think I will have to do some mulling over of this issue over the next weeks and will blog about it once I have done some research.
In the mean time, what’s your experience, as trainer or trainee, in terms of control? I’d love to hear your thoughts.