My professional growth and development as a trainee teacher


 

 

Development is a continuous cycle and I realized if I will teach only that which I have learnt in coming years then I will be a teacher with only one year experience, but if I learn for the rest of my life then I will become an even better teacher. Therefore, I should seize any opportunity I get to develop myself. It is not all about having one method or group of ideas, or preparing material, getting paid and teaching what I know. It is more about renewing things, adding creative elements, and sometimes taking risks. I will keep my self up to date with whatever I consider to be beneficial to a teacher who seeks development and innovation. I will do this by reading journals, attending conferences and seminars, consulting books, and maintaining contact with other teachers.Last but not least, the people I worked with, my tutor, observers and colleagues, opened my eyes to the many aspects of teaching and were very supportive people who encouraged me and provided me with rich feedback. Their unlimited support saved me time, raised my self-confidence, and improved my performance.Gower et al. (2005) highlight the importance of collaboration between fellow trainees to get over problems, since teamwork is more important than competition. We learnt from each other how to be patient, hard working, committed, well–organized, and creative. We instantly began working as a team, meeting to discuss our parts,practicing, giving feedback, suggesting ideas, motivating, and supporting each other,arranging the classroom, setting up equipment, distributing books and dictionaries,and playing the role of learners. These times will never vanish from my memory.

Last but not least, the people I worked with, my tutor, observers and colleagues, opened my eyes to the many aspects of teaching and were very supportive people who encouraged me and provided me with rich feedback. Their unlimited support saved me time, raised my self-confidence, and improved my performance.Gower et al. (2005) highlight the importance of collaboration between fellow trainees to get over problems, since teamwork is more important than competition. We learnt from each other how to be patient, hard working, committed, well–organized, and creative. We instantly began working as a team, meeting to discuss our parts,practicing, giving feedback, suggesting ideas, motivating, and supporting each other,arranging the classroom, setting up equipment, distributing books and dictionaries,and playing the role of learners. These times will never vanish from my memory.

Limitations


There were some general constraints that I had already come across in literature which I had to handle in different ways:- I thought that I would face difficulties dealing with learners of different nationalities,but I found the real challenge to be dealing with students of mixed ability. I overcame this problem by designing two different sets of questions and tasks so that they were suitable for both low and high level students. I decided which questions I should assign to which students.- The layout of the classroom was another issue, as there are too many tables. As a group we used to make a horse shoe shape. I felt the space between the board and the teacher was too big and so I tried to stay close to the students.

Giving instructions, gaining students’ attention, and giving feedback were important aspects of my teaching that I was concerned about. Gradually, I set personal objectives that I wanted to achieve in each lesson, and I fully achieved them by my third lesson and since I realized where I need improvement I improved. My personal objectives were:

1- to improve the way I give instructions to the class;

2 -to reduce my speaking time to a minimum;

3- to monitor my voice in a better way;

4- to improve the feedback I give to students and my error correction techniques.

The importance of observation for my progress


 

 

Teaching English

 

I benefited a lot from observing a teacher at an institute in the first semester, aswell visiting Colchester to experience teaching English to refugees, as this allowed me to carefully examine every aspect of the teachers’ classes. I also benefited from their ideas, teaching methods and lessons, which were full of interesting aspects. I was able to take notes and observe my fellow teachers, having the chance three times to participate as a student. I loved to play this role as it enabled me to enrich my experience and put myself in their shoes. It helped me to figure out what makes agood language teacher and what makes learners interact better in the classroom. One area that I was interested in is establishing the rapport with students as a very important factor that shows teacher as a member of the class not the centre of it. This is not for the learners’ benefit only but the teachers as well to take away some of the pressure from their shoulders and to run the class smoothly. I learnt how to forget all about being shy and speaking with a trembling voice, as I used to be sometimes when giving a presentation. Instead, I want to be confident and give my all in every lesson and learn as well, regardless of my sickness during this semester. I noticed my colleagues as well when they began to smile and release some of their tension in their lessons, I felt more secure as a student. So I realized that my students would be able to accept me as teacher if I show them respect, patience and helpfulness. Some teachers just deliver their lesson normally, and some have fun and share experiences. Others keep their distance from the learners. These were all aspects we had the chance to discuss at our last feedback meeting. So, trusting students’ abilities and respecting them is an important thing, as they will trust and respect the teacher as well (Harmer,2007). Some teachers think that their students are not good enough because they do not have a good command of language, which is not always true. I consider the stage they are at and treat them as really clever students who are experienced and rich with knowledge, encouraging them to share this in the class. I love listening to students carefully. To illustrate, in my first lesson about inspirational people I designed activity as lead into the lesson . I asked students to look at six figures and arrange them according to who is the most inspirational person according to their point of view. I loved that lesson because all of the class were engaged talking about these famous people and I was surprised as one of Korean student chose the author of the book ” Last Lecture ” and was talking to her pair about him. I found that interesting to share her knowledge with the class since she read the book and found that person very inspirational. To facilitate her ability to speak fluently without begins I asked her some questions about it such as if she read in her mother tongue and had a chance to ask more questions which really aroused the interest among others .Another student chose the man without arm and legs and shared her thoughts about how being disabled does not make ones life stop instead it creates more chance to be successful. I found that personal dimensions encouraged students to speak and share their inspirational words. I was glad when they overcame their language barriers toshare ideas.

Materials, Preparations and Lesson Plans


The six month teaching practice course, involving preparing lessons,observing colleagues, and receiving feedback enriched my knowledge of the theoretical and practical basis of ELT to realize my essential multi roles as a facilitator, monitor, participant and observer. I found out that I am more effective as a teacher when I thinking about how to facilitate things and make the learning experience authentic, interesting and useful to me and my learners, as their progress,growth and success is mine, and this is the real reward of teaching.

 


 

 

I used to organize the whole process of producing a lesson by initiating questions concerning the subject of the lesson, taking into consideration the material,the students, me as the teacher, and classroom management. I found this brainstorming process quite useful because it allowed me to reflect on what I had and how I could make the most of it prior to planning. The book we used, “Language Leader”,is to a certain extent academically oriented (see Kempton, 2008), and there were many things we tried to present it in an interesting way. From this point of view I used to ask the following questions: Is the material suitable for my learners? Does the partI choose contribute to and connect to subsequent parts? Does it fit within the time allocated? Is it easy or difficult? Is it short or long? Is it authentic and interesting?What are the objectives stated in the teacher’s book? Do I need to design other activities, adopt, or replace tasks? So I always have alternatives and plenty of thoughts.

After looking at the materials I think about how I can make it fit the students, considering theirs needs, interest, age, culture, nationality, background,level, and individual differences, since these are very important aspects to make sure it fit with the goals stated , materials and activities designed(McDonough &Shaw,2003). As a teacher I try to visualize how I can present it in different ways so as to improve my performance. I also ask myself the following questions: Do I feel comfortable about delivering this information? Have I read enough in secondary sources in addition to the teacher’s book? How I may make it interesting? Shall I talk about something personal to encourage my students to speak up?? Am I well planned and have I organized everything in advance? How can I make my role effective?Overall, I practiced how to make boring lesson into a very interesting one.Our observer used to say to one of my colleagues, that if the students only follow the book then they can do it alone and there is no need for a teacher. Her words kept me thinking about how to turn things round and make them more interesting, enjoyable and authentic. But I had to be careful as it might be a perfect planned lesson but does not work in the classroom as may one of the element in the whole process is lost such as in my second lesson about Media mixed ability class and timing were difficulties that I faced as I had three tasks to be accomplished ( warm up , new vocabulary , reading newspapers’ headlines and reading a text) . High level students finished within the assigned time but low ones could not that was really difficult moment as I asked advance students to discuss the next question and I tried to help the other group explaining unknown words. I regretted that I did not give them sufficient time as low level. I had to think on my feet as I talked over while they were still working but I realized it is all about learning something from my class not finishing the tasks. I could do that better if I had an idea about their class profile as I would encouraged good students to work with low ones so I mix the classroom kindly without obviously explaining the real reason. I learnt that group or pair work is more effective when students could help each other and help the teacher as well.

A reflection on the context of Saudi Arabia


In this category I will reflect on my experience as a trainee teacher. First I will shed some light on my background and then I will discuss the great opportunity I had in the UK studying English Language Teaching (ELT), which widened my scope. In Saudi Arabia getting a job as a teacher of English is challenging as it is a competitive atmosphere and native speakers of English are preferred. There are certain criteria that have to be met, such as holding a master degree, having a high level of English language proficiency, and being aware of new teaching methodologies, materials,evaluation, and testing.

I came to the UK with a modest knowledge of ELT, no confidence, no clear vision of my future, and from an atmosphere where the teacher plays a central role in the classroom because teaching methods are still undeveloped (see, Almansour , 2009 and Alseghayer,2005). In addition, Zaid (1993) and Alhazmi (2001) highlight the unsatisfactory outcomes of the teacher preparation course followed in Saudi Arabia as a result retraining of teachers becomes a requirement. Alzahrani (2009) points out that teaching methods, teacher and materials causes a low-level of proficiency in English among Saudi students. As a previous student who had experienced a similar situation,after becoming a teacher I wanted to work in an atmosphere where there are elements of creativity, originality, interaction, and intellectual growth. I discovered during the Teaching Practice (TP) course that teaching reflects all these elements which I was looking for, which made a real change to my beliefs and attitudes toward my job. I used to believe that I was not born as a gifted teacher, but what I found goes in line with what Harmer (2007: 23) states, that if a teacher learns their craft, which is acombination of “personality, intelligence, knowledge, and experience”, then they can become an effective teacher, which I am aiming to become as a competent teacher.


References

Al-Hazmi, S. (2003) EFL Teacher Preparation Programs in Saudi Arabia: trends and challenges. TESOL Quarterly 37 (2), 341–344.

Al-Mansour, N. (2009) Bilingualism and the Need for Early EFL Education in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. J. King Saud Univ., Vol. 21, Lang. & Transl., pp. 1-12,Riyadh

Al-Seghayer, K. (2005) Teaching English in Saudi Arabia. In Brain, G.(ed.)Teaching English to the World : History, Curriculum, and Practice. London :Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Alzahrani, . (2009) Saudi Secondary School Male Students’ Attitudes Towards English : an Exploratory study . J. King Saud Univ., Vol. 20, Lang. & Transl., pp.25 -36

Harmer, (2007) How to Teach English. London: Pearson Longman.