Saturday, April 11, 2015

The Tale of a Not That Good Novice Teacher - Guest post by Theodore Lalos

About a year ago, while at TESOL Greece Convention, I met a very young but yet wonderful educator, who I knew would make the difference. Today, 1 year later, I can say that I have gained a wonderful friend.It is my pleasure to present his first real "guest" post on my blog. Enjoy!

Since this post is going to be an account of my first experience as a novice teacher, I believe that I should start this blog-post in a different way, so here it goes:
‘Once upon a time, there was a young man who was stricken by the great Recession and decided to change his career course and settle in a new field - that of the English language teaching.
Young and not at all experienced, he started his venture by distributing his CV to all the available language centres. Fortunately enough, after a successful interview he managed to get the position and was informed that he would teach various, mixed-ability classes which would be comprised of false beginners to upper-intermediate students.
Elated and overeager, he returned back home holding all the coursebooks that would keep him company for the rest of the year and tried to prepare himself. Not that this action of his bore any fruit. He was inexperienced and with limited knowledge and awareness of what pedagogy and language teaching is.
Ultimately, the big day – Wednesday I think it was, he entered the classroom. Now that I take stock of that day – after a persistent request, I think that Gloria Gaynor’s ‘At first I was afraid, I was petrified…’ is mostly appropriate.
I can still – to my surprise - recall that day! I had to teach a class of 5 and 6yos that were extremely exuberant and naughty if I’m allowed to say. The lesson, as you can guess, was about teaching children how to recognise the first three graphemes of the alphabet. Even though, I don’t really want to share with you my amazing teaching techniques, I’m obliged to do so!
So, I entered the classroom, smiled at those little and cute faces and started my instruction.
Now here comes the interesting part, are you ready?

The procedure was quite simple. I switched on the interactive whiteboard, pointed at the grapheme and sounded out the name of the letter. Then I introduced three realias – an apple, a boat made of paper and a toy car. I pointed at each item, pronounced each word and invited my eager young learners to repeat after me. I definitely drilled and killed them. But that didn’t actually prevent me from taking my excellent teaching instruction one step further! To continue my recipe for disaster, I asked my students to practice their spelling skills by writing these words on the board. A great move of mine, indeed. I taught them A, B and C and I asked them to write words that were spelt out with different graphemes. And when this stage was over, I invited the whole class to sing along with me. What a wonderful song it was! It went like this: A, B, C … A, B, C… Finally, I asked them to name the letters again and recall the words we learnt. No seriously, wasn’t that a great lesson???
My thoughts right after the ‘lesson’ were out of this world. I was convinced that I did a great job and that I imparted my knowledge to the next generation! Was I right? Of course not, but that is another story! I’m not going to describe how I have advanced and enhanced my understanding of the underlying principles of teaching, because the aim of this account was to impress on you how bad I was as a novice teacher.’

Theodore has been teaching English since 2010. He’s a TKT, CELTA and Diploma in Teacher Training holder. In 2014, he presented for the first time at the 35th Annual International TESOL Greece Convention and presented again with some success in 2015.  He’s really keen on further developing himself, and, thus he engages himself in any CPD opportunities.
My blog:

Of course now that Theodore has showed me the "wrong" way, we all expect a sequel on how it's done "the right way"!!! To be continued!! 

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