Pre-sessional Teaching Training
As a new teacher who is about to join the actual teaching in CDEFL, I received a 3-day pre-sessional training on a wide range of teaching principles, general rules and good practices. I have gained so much after the training. With such a deep and wide range of input to take in, I feel so excited and also nervous. With all my sincere thanks to every teachers’ devotion and sharing, I am now trying to summarize what I learnt from the sessions from different aspects.
Keeping to the Rules
Miss Pan insisted on the importance of keeping to the rules in actual teaching. I think rules are fundamental guidelines which will help teachers know what is expected from us, and assist us in developing good habits and teaching practice. I understand that as teachers, we should keep to rules such as the following:
A. Prepare thoroughly and write good teaching plans, considering a wide range of elements such as teaching aims, class analysis, teaching difficulties, teaching procedures, etc. Teaching plans should be very much detailed and carefully designed, as this is the basis of a well-implemented lesson.
B. Teachers should study their teaching materials well before the class. Only if teachers know well about their lessons will it be possible to achieve the teaching aims.
C. We teachers should design our lessons to be of a high-volume, interesting, and interactive. To achieve this, we should not only know about teaching materials and teaching aims, but also our students, including their development, their interest, and their specific characteristics. Continuous Self-improvement
It’s never easy but essential to be a teacher who continuously develop him/herself. Students, families, schools and the whole society expects teachers to be professional, which requires life-long learning and development. It amazed me how CDEFL encouraged and insisted that teachers keep learning and self-improving. I feel so lucky that we new teachers are expected to be so, and here we are equipped with a whole large team who are willing to pass down their good experience and always give us a hand whenever we turn to them. There are several suggestions which will lead me to improve my teaching:
A. Read extensively and intensively.
B. Observe as much as possible other (experienced) teachers’ lessons, with follow-up reflections and in-depth study.
C. Be active; Study and reflect; make it habitual.
D. Make use of various resources, such as lectures, public lessons, group lesson designs and tutors. Getting Along with Students
Developing a harmonious relationship with students can facilitate teaching. In CDEFL, we are required to:
1. Respect every student; explore their potential and talents.
2. Be tolerant; embrace students’ both virtues and shortcomings. Above all, bear in mind that they are normal people. Teachers are expected be loving and dependable, and never be cruel and humiliate them. Always be patient and respect each of them as a person with a valuable and independent soul.
3. Be strict with students, this will hopefully help them to develop self-discipline and good learning habits. Teaching Senior One Students
Miss Luo gave a talk on the specifics of teaching Senior One students. I think the core is how English teaching aims in CDEFL differ from traditional English teaching . The teaching aims are not solely ‘high marks’, but including:
1. high comprehensive English ability;
2. broadened culture horizon;
3. cross-cultural communication abilities;
4. effective learning strategies; and
5. interest in English learning. Reflective Thinking
Mr. Long gave us a talk on pedagogical reflective thinking and analyzed many examples of problems encountered in actual English teaching. The one example especially impressed me was how a teacher can respond to a student’s comment “Each time my English teacher cannot explain something well, she/he would say ‘this is habitual’.” On the one hand, due to cultural differences, the student may not realize that in English, there can be some ‘habitual use’ which may result from and reflect its cultural or social background. While on the other hand, this comment is not purely a comment; instead, it may signal that the student is dissatisfied with the teacher, or even having some objections to him/her. Thus, the teacher should find out what the student is thinking of, probably by just having an informal chat with him/her. Knowing about our students is essential in carrying out our teaching.
At the end of this letter, I would like try to describe my general feelings throughout the training. With a heavy sigh, I start here. On 23 Aug, I was excited to meet the large team, to hear top leaders’ talk and to know more about CDEFL.
On 24 Aug, I was more attentive, especially when the new teachers shared how they started and carried on their ‘journey’ in this school. This is more closely-related to what I am going to face. I started to feel a bit worried when I learnt about the many struggles, challenges or even failures new teachers went through. The question wandered in my head, I doubt even when I was sleeping, that ‘What problems will I encounter? Will my students recognize me as an English teacher? Will I be able to survive?’ There was no answer, and has been no answer.
On 25 Aug, English teachers from Senior One gave us two demo lessons on . It was such a pleasure to experience their lesson, and they seemed to be so fully prepared and in control. When I learnt that new teachers were going to give a demo the next morning, I felt a stronger feeling of loss. I didn’t know what it was to be like, and I had to absorb and prepare for the lesson in such a short short time! Honestly, I was freaked out!
On 26 Aug, in the morning, I went to the class. I went over my teaching procedures in my mind again and again, then I started to believe that I was kind of in control, and would manage to be cool-headed on the stage. When I was on the stage and gave the demo lesson, I felt all plans were gone! It was unexpectedly tough to take each single move! ‘What should I do here? How should I respond to this student?’ Oh, dear, it was such a disaster! I cannot recall how I managed to finish the session! I can imagine it must had also been a torture for the observers to witness the lesson. But I am so amazed and gratitude to them that they were so attentive and cooperative. Above all, they were all so sincerely pointing out our problems and giving suggestions. I could feel that they were eager to help the new teachers, just like a mother hoping her baby taking its first step.
Now when I look backward, I know for sure that I have so MUCH to learn. I am still nervous, worried, and freaked out, but now I know I will be able to overcome the difficulties only if I keep trying. And I know that I have such a powerful and supportive team with me. I still remember a new teacher said today ‘it’s so hard; but it won’t feel hard if we are not trying to move FORWARD. Now, I know, I will take the challenges, and also, chances.
I want to thank Mr. Long and every other teacher who has been and will always be there. I hope I will be part of the forces which will make CDEFL better. There is one more thing which I would like to ask for Mr. Long’s suggestion. I know Mr. Long encourages each teacher to be more academic and pay attention to research work. I would very much to do so, but now I have a difficulty. I don’t know how and where to access current and previous related research. I would appreciate it so much if Mr. Long could give me some hints on solving this problem.