The ABC of ELT

Get yourself a mentor and community.

This possibly actually deserves to be the top of my tips for new teachers but it is the first one I’ve done concerning outside the classroom.

The reason why it has taken me so long to suggest this is that I have been focusing within the classroom and yet really this out of classroom factor will certainly have a greater impact on a teacher’s classroom performance than anything I have previously recommended.

The great thing about having a community of other teachers or a mentor is that they have been there before, made the same mistakes, learnt some lesson and learnt how to deal with them.

This is not to say that there words should be taken as gospel, after all each classroom is different and every teacher is different, however I have no doubt that there is something that every teacher can gain from any teacher.

The moment I grew the most within my first year of teaching was when I started to share a level with another teacher. We both had pre-intermediate groups following the same pace chart and she would teach the class just before me. As such I would go over my plan with her just after she had taught the lesson, she would say what had worked, suggest changes and show me some extra resources that were better than the book.

I quickly learnt my way round the extra resources [so much so that when I was at the summer school in the summer I could easily direct people to resources for pre-int students like the back of my hand] and my lessons became a lot more active and engaging with the students.

I think two points made this really work.

  1. I planned the lesson before hand anyway so I attempted it rather than just having it handed to me.
  2. I asked questions and tried to understand the purpose for each activity and what it would do. 
I still didn’t use every suggestion but I could explain why it wasn’t a good idea for my groups.
By the end of that year I had grown so much as a teacher and I can honestly thank Valya a great deal for her mentoring. 
Communities can have a similar affect and for more experienced teachers or independent teachers it is often the only way to have someone else’s experience and advice.

So are you being mentored by anyone? Do you have a community? How are you using it? 

[If the answer to both is no then I highly recommend checking out #eltchat on twitter every Wednesday at 12:00 and 20:00 GMT. Another option is to start blogging for professional development and get comments from other teacher. ]

About Chris Wilson

I'm an English Language teacher based in Krakow, Poland. I enjoy writing, using technology and playing the Ukulele.

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