Friday, August 29, 2008

Halfway mark

I'm at the halfway mark in the CELTA course and still standing. In fact, I'm actually doing quite well.

I've always done at least reasonably well in school... I really thrived in my college courses. But a decade in ill-fitting and under-stimulating jobs left me wondering if my brain still worked. Turns out it does... quite well at that! We got our first assignment back yesterday, and had our stage one evaluations with the instructors this morning. The assignment wasn't easy, but it was pretty straight forward. We had to diagnose a couple of the grammar & pronunciation problems of a student and come up with activities to address them. I didn't do the best job ever, but I got it done and when I got it back it was graded "Pass" (I think the grade options were Resubmit / Pass / High Pass or something like that). Two of the guys in my group have to resubmit the assignment (one with only minor corrections of terminology usage) so I assumed that overall half the class would have passed. Nope... in the other group - *no one* got a "Pass" on their first draft! I wonder if that had to do with the fact that the other group works with more advanced students and therefore has more complicated errors. No idea. But I was shocked to learn that only 2 of the 8 of us passed... it made me even more appreciative that I passed!

Then in my one-on-one with the instructor I found out that I'm headed for a "Pass B" if I keep doing what I've been doing. My mantra for this whole course has been "I don't need to be perfect, I just need to pass." And I guess it's been working because I haven't over-thought or over-planned or over-stressed. I don't like having the expectation set that high though... it freaks me out a bit. So I'm going to keep telling myself "I don't need to be perfect, I just need to pass." and not psych myself out.

Even better than the grade, I had a good chat with my instructor. He was very complimentary - which is always nice. But also when I explained the parts of the course that I liked (collaborating with other teachers, working with the students) he said I'd get a lot of that once actually working as a teacher; and the parts that I really don't like - lesson planning, I'll get to modify a fair bit once I'm a real teacher. So that's good... that the career profile equals more of what I like and less of what I don't like about this course. It's also making me think that I really would like to get a Masters at some point, and become a "real" teacher.

Finally, I got to tell him that I didn't like his question / answer with a question technique. It was actually really great because I felt very comfortable and confident giving him that critique... you know... I could never complain about the people I worked with before. Yes, there's a strong "I'm the instructor / you're the trainee." boundary... but it's a lot more fluid, and less like my old job where if one of the faculty did something that I hated, I'd just have to suck it up and deal with it. Basically, I'm treated, if not as an equal, at least as an intelligent adult with a right to my own opinions. It's a nice change!

Now if only I could make some real friends!

In other news... there seems to be some kind of political situation going on down in Bangkok - I only have the most cursory information. There have been protests, rail workers are striking, certain main roads have been blocked off, some arrests, etc. etc. It looks a bit scary, but the only thing I've personally noticed is that instead of all the TVs in the restaurants being tuned to Soap Operas, they're all tuned to the news. I'm safe, everything is fine. When I got here I registered with the US Consulate and will keep up with their travel advice page. If the situation goes south (which I think is unlikely in the extreme), I'll do whatever they recommend. Heck - I have a bunch of Australian friends now, if necessary I could just hop right on over there!


Exuberant Color said...

Congratulations for being one of the 2 that passed. It sounds like you have the right attitude. I'm really enjoying reading about your adventure.

Batty said...

Yay for passing! You're doing what you wanted to do, so that's fabulous. Thank you for letting us share the adventure through your blog!

Chance said...

Here's to being treating as an intelligent adult. Very little of that going around.

Michael5000 said...

Oh good, I was hoping you would talk to him about how you felt about his too-persnickity Socratic method. Sounded like he needed the feedback.

I don't agree that all you need to do is pass. Defenses will chew you up if you only have one option. You need to establish an effective running game as well. Wait, what were we talking about?

Sorry. It's that time of year again...