I had no idea when I decided to teach EFL that I would love it the way I do. Turns out I’m pretty good at it too.
At the Anglo, every teacher is observed by someone from the QA department once per quarter. Because our school is so new, we haven’t had observations until just recently.
To say it is stressful does not convey the terror of this experience. These observations not only rate your teaching ability, lesson planning and overall use of English, but they go toward rating the entire school. Our goal as teachers is to score a minimum of 2.5 (of 4).
Never having been a teacher before, I was quite nervous. They don’t tell you when they are coming, although they did say they wouldn’t come on a Saturday or observe on the first day of a new course.
So what happened? The observer came on a Saturday on the first day of a new course.
Saturday courses are 6 hours long. They are painful. For the students and the teachers. The first day is also a bit challenging, as you don’t know who will be in the class and how they will gel as a group.
To make matters worse, the observer came to my class at 1:40 p.m. — within an hour of the end of the class, when everyone is at their tiredest and, in my case, half the class had left early.
I was quite lucky, however, in that I had had several “mock” observations — by the academic supervisor and my mentor (a fellow teacher with lots of experience), so I knew what to expect.
It would have been nice if everything had gone smoothly, but, of course, I only had 2 of my 7 students left and they were struggling with the listening activity I had planned.
Naturally, the observer picked up on this and, in her notes to me, asked me to “reflect” on the way I teach listening micro skills, as well as on my strengths and weaknesses as a teacher.
Yikes. I didn’t even know what micro skills were until that day! I mean, I knew what they were but not what they were called, so I had to ask her. She was very kind in explaining it to me without making me feel like an idiot.
Fortunately, I am a good writer. They give you 3 working days to respond with your reflection. Of course, I started right away. My reflection ended up 5 pages long!
Extensive? Uh-huh. But worth it. You see, you are also rated on your actual reflection! So, in that area I received a 4 (of 4). And, of course, as a native English speaker, my Use of English was also a 4.
The conclusion was that I scored a 2.7 overall. Yippee!!!!! This is very good for me!
Last week, a bunch of teachers from the Anglo went to Mexico City to attend an annual conference given by National Geographic Learning, who provides many of our textbooks and materials for kids and teens.
Because so many of us were going, The Anglo rented a van and a driver to take us there. On a good day, the drive is about 2.5 hours. We left at 6:00 a.m. in order to get to the conference by 10. We made it.
The conference was really good. It would take too long to fully describe it. Let’s just say the first half was about teaching 21st century skills and the second half was about using photography and story to engage students. Turns out that the photographer lives in Querétaro! We made sure to get his email address so we can invite him to the school. Luckily for me, everything was in English.
Afterward, we went to a local Mexican “fast food” restaurant called La Casa de Toño for lunch before heading back to Queretaro. It was very good and very inexpensive! I had flautas, flan and a Corona light for less than $100 MX ($5 US). God, I love Mexico!
The ride back was uneventful. Most everyone slept at least part of the way. We got back to school around 6 p.m. Long day.