Gina Podaru – My Celta Journey

Hello, there! You may be wondering how taking a course can become a journey, right? Well, in the following lines I will describe my experience with the part-time CELTA course, so please bear with me☺.

It’s somewhere in November. I am scheduled to have the interview with Georgiana, one of the CELTA trainers, after I had previously submitted my application form. Nervousness level: really high. The Skype window pops up and it starts ringing. I’m trying not to lose my composure, I cast a glance at what was surrounding my computer (application form, notes, sticky notes, blank papers), a deep breath and I answer. Georgiana greeted me warmly, with a big smile on her face, telling me from the start there is nothing to worry about. Guess what? I was sure there was something to worry about. But, silly me, I was wrong. She explained every single step of the course and had an answer to questions I had not even thought of yet. By the end of the interview, I felt more relieved seeing how this person on the screen already inspires me to succeed before the course had even started. The interview came to an end after one hour or so, with me being enthusiastic about starting the course.

It’s January now. The 12th. The first day of the course. Heavy snow outside, complete dark at 5 in the morning, heart beating out of my chest. Great. Here’s a picture of my face before the course, a few steps away from the school.

Told you it was snowing. So, I take a few more steps, I enter the building, and there I find Georgiana and Nicoleta, the tutors. I had a very warm welcome, unlike the weather outside (sorry, it was really cold). I got my name tag and I was asked to go to a room, where I met my colleagues (such nice people <3). A few moments later, the tutors joined us to give us the official welcome to the part-time CELTA course. They were very detail-oriented, and explained everything in such a way that it didn’t seem scary anymore. We got our portfolios, where we would put all the materials to be used in the lessons, and then we got split into two groups: Upper and Pre-Intermediate. I started with the Upper-Intermediate level first. We were invited to the classroom, we met the students, and the tutors delivered their demo lessons. Before the lesson started, we were given the tutor’s LP and LA for the lesson (LP – lesson plan; LA – language analysis) and encouraged to take notes. Nicoleta started teaching and we were all amazed by her performance. Every single step was according to the plan, the instructions were so short, yet concise and effective, the time management was great, the students were giving all the answers, the TTT was really low, and the mood was great. OMG! So many great things she could do at the same time! After the jaw-dropping lesson, we had a feedback session and we discussed things that had happened during the class. In general, this feedback thingy is tricky because people take it personal. At the CELTA course, besides learning teaching related things, we also learnt how to give and how to take feedback. What I loved was that we didn’t feel criticized at all. Everything the tutors told us was meant to help us to improve our future lessons, and it was directed at the way the lesson was delivered. So, if there’s one thing to keep in mind about the feedback: it’s not you, it’s the lesson that is being discussed 😀.  We were also given the TP points for our first lesson and the tutors patiently explained what we had to do. We got plenty of help with everything we needed, we just had to ask.

 

The first lesson came. I had prepared every single day for it and I still had some doubts about it. Then, it happened. And I loved it. I guess that one of the most important elements in a lesson is the teacher’s mood because it sets the mood for the whole group of students. So, try to be enthusiastic about your lessons and things will turn out just fine. I know it did for me. After the lesson, we had the feedback session and I was repeating “It’s not about me, it’s about the lesson” over and over again in my head. But it’s really hard to detach yourself from your lesson, because, after all, it’s your creation, isn’t it? Well, it’s something you need to get used to because you’re doing yourself a favour by being open to others’ suggestions.

Lesson by lesson, I listened and I tried to apply the things I was told the things I liked in other people’s lessons. And, so, I started growing, and things became more natural. I acknowledged the importance of the paperwork behind the lessons and how much it helps. One particular aspect that changed my teaching experience was the anticipation of the difficulties the students might encounter. As a teacher, you are no longer taken by surprise because you have already anticipated things that may not go smoothly and you adapt your LP better.

In march, we changed the group of students and I met the Pre-Intermediates and Georgiana as a tutor. Again, we started with an amazing demo from the tutor, and, thus, we were able to understand this new level easier. Although they are still adults, there are many aspects that change, so you have to adapt.

Weeks flew by, and I woke up on 8th June, before my last lesson. And I was also the last in my group to teach. I just cannot find the right words to describe all the feelings that were inside me. I generally find it difficult to write or to talk about things I am really attached to, maybe that’s why this article took me a while to write. When the whole ride is amazing, I can’t just fit it into some words. And this is what CELTA meant to me: an amazing ride, the coolest rollercoaster I’ve been on in TeacherLand. So, whether you are a junior teacher, or you are carrying 20 years of experience behind you, give the course a chance. It is going to change your life!

Also, this is my face at the end of the course:

Cheers!