I have just failed a teaching practice and I’m feeling absolutely crushed. I have taught in schools for 30 years and always thought I could teach but now I’m training for TEFL I can’t seem to put a foot right. I need help from someone more experienced in this type of teaching. Anyone out there who can come to my rescue and build up my confidence again. I am dreading having to take another lesson. I quake at the thought. My confidence is shattered. Other people on this course who have never taught before seem to be doing beter than I am. It’s a dreadful feeling.
22 May, 2008 at 14:20
Total posts: 1
Reply To: Teaching
You’ve been teaching for a while now, so I can use a classroom example. Surely you’ve had intelligent competent students in the past who’ve made mistakes and lost their confidence.
Think about a student who maybe never took formal English classes, just learned the langauge from conversations, and then joined an advanced class. This student might be really frustrated during a lesson on some formal aspect of grammar which all of the other students got right away, but s/he didn’t. It’s not because the student can’t speak English, it’s because s/he didn’t develop specific strategies/habits for doing so and these take time.
It’s the same with you. If you’ve been a successful teacher for 30 years (!) then you must be doing a lot right. I wonder whether you might just not be used to the structure of the training course. Give it time, think about the specific feedback your instructors are giving you, and look at ways to try it again.
To drag the metaphor out a little longer, don’t you prefer students who activtely make mistakes, think about what caused the mistakes, and then try again? Good grief, you’re the best kind of student–the one who cares about getting it right and isn’t afraid to try new things.
First off, the fact that you feel so terrible about thinking you are not up to scratch and asking for advice is a hugely positive thing. You obviously care very deeply about what you do and how you do it that once you reach a low point as you have, you are open to making yourself better.
I’m assuming that you’re doing a course like CELTA where the teaching practices are observed and assessed. I took it after having three years of ESL teaching experience and there were aspects of it that I found hard and was appalled at myself. One important thing I discovered was that I shouldn’t take the criticism personally. If you have good trainers and they give constructive critical feedback, I would suggest sitting down with those notes and going over them as objectively and don’t take them as personal attacks.
Another thing, which might be harder to do (as you have a lot of experience) is to throw all of it out and approach each day/lesson/session as if you know nothing at all. If it helps at all, I felt like I was being deconstructed – what I knew before or had figured out myself might not necessarily have been the best way (not that there is a "best way" but I hope you get my drift) and I had to let go of any assumptions and analyse what I had been doing, before I could reconstruct myself and build myself back up again.
John is so right when he mentions the students in class that make mistakes. In classes when students make errors or have a bad day or an unsuccessful lesson, we, as teachers, don’t feel badly about that student. It’s part of the learning process. We encourage students to be open minded and try everything – it doesn’t matter if they get it wrong as long as they learn from it. It’s no different for us teachers!