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A 10 minute intro to Business English Teacher Development

Copyright©2014PHILWADE

Published by Phil Wade at Smashwords

Smashwords Edition License Notes

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Table of Contents

About the book

About the writer and editor

Goal setting

Types of goals

Experimentation

Feedback

Tips

Sample goals
About the book

Initial TEFL training such as the CELTA acts as a foundation from which to build
your teaching skills. Once you graduate, it is up to you to keep improving. If you
work in a school, there may be a development path to follow including regular in-
house training and conferences but if you are freelance, it is generally entirely in
your hands.

After your first year of teaching, you will probably have a good idea of what works
and what doesn’t and have enjoyed far more successes than failures. The danger
though is that you may not see or feel the need to improve. After all, we often
only change things when they don’t work. And even if you do seek some new or
improved skills, it can be hard to know what to do. We can’t all take 3 months off
for the DELTA or afford a 2 year part-time MA.

This book is about taking your development into your own hands. It provides ideas
for developing as a teacher for any new or existing Business English teacher but is
also applicable to any TEFLer.
About the writer and editor

Phil-Writer

I am an English teacher working with business professionals and at university level.

I have over 14 years experience of teaching and have been involved in ELT
publications since 2008 having worked on articles, printed and digital content for
publishers and myself.

Noreen-Editor

I teach English and am a Cambridge examiner. I have written articles for the IH
journal about conferences, designed lesson plans for TeachitELT and done action
research projects which I presented online and at TESOL Spain.

I am interested in the growing availability of digital publications and how they help
teachers.
Goal setting

To avoid getting stuck in a rut and just repeating what you have always done, set
some development goals. Either you can start with a long-term one and then work
backwards or you can look at each upcoming course, what skills you need and plan
for that then the term as a whole and finally develop a long-term goal. As you can
guess, the first method is based on getting you where you want to be and the
second is developing you to teach your courses better. Another idea is to actually
begin by reflecting on the courses you just finished. Below is a description of
different goals with useful questions to help you.

1) Post-course goals

What did you realise you needed to work on after the last course(s) finished?
Formulate a few general goals such as “I need to incorporate more revision into
lessons”.

2) Next course goals

Think about which skills you require to teach the next course(s). How can you
strengthen ones you have and develop ones you don’t? For example, knowledge of
CEFR assessment and phonetic symbols.

3) Term goals

Consider the courses you will have next term. What is there you ought to work on
to teach them well? Maybe each course requires something different or you can
see an overarching issue.

4) Year goals

What is it that you want to be better at by the end of the academic year? Don’t
just aim for completing the courses and getting good feedback, think measurable
goals like teaching a new kind of course or a lower or higher level.

5) Career goals

Long-term goals are useful to help you consistently develop towards an objective.
Maybe you want to set up your own in-house training operation within 2 years or
become an ADOS.
Types of goals

Goals can be any sort from ones specifically about teaching to those related to the
business side of your work. These are some categories I generally use:

1) Teaching

-Use more/less…, reduce my TTT, incorporate self-assessment.

2) Soft skills

-Increase small talk opportunities, get to know more needs, develop more ‘out-of-
class contact’.

3) Logistics

Vary groupings and sit and stand activities, do pair checks and whole class
activities.

4) Administrative

Create a better lesson feedback and syllabi template, use Excel for invoicing.

5) Marketing

Create a personal website with course options, build a logo, place adverts, join
LinkedIn and build a network to strengthen your brand.

6) Materials

-Review materials and replace and add new ones.

7) Tech

-Look at apps and eLearning and practise using iPads and OHPs in lessons.

8) Career

-Look into promotions, new jobs, new clients, contributing to journals and
speaking at conferences.

Better skills opens new doors. If you just taught a 10 week Negotiations course
well, keep developing that skill and offer it as a new service or course option.
Experimentation

The market changes due to student and client requirements. Books quickly become
dated, apps look old and courses lose popularity. You need to not only keep up but
push your own development to become a leader in your field. As an employed
teacher, you may think you have less space for innovation as you have set courses
and syllabi to follow. A freelancer, on the other hand, in theory, can create and
sell any kind of service but actually may be more controlled by the market.
Whatever your situation, you should find time and space to expand as a teacher.

Try new ways of doing things. Not all of them will work 100% but sometimes failure
is more useful than successfully repeating X for the 25th time. You can make a
small change or try a completely new method or lesson. Whatever you are
comfortable with.

Below are some ideas to experiment with:

1) Don’t do your first plan or idea. Think about a second and third and select one.
This will get you out of your habits.

2) Think about which English skills you mainly focus on and plan something with a
less popular one.

3) Ask the student(s) at the end of the lesson for requests.

4) If you teach a big class, set up a steering group of 3 to 5 students. Exchange


emails to discuss lesson feedback, future lesson content and to gauge satisfaction.

5) Change rooms. Do a lesson in a lab, a lecture room, a different classroom,


outside or at the client’s office.

6) Turn the lesson upside down. Some of us were taught to go from oral warmer to
reading, comprehension then writing. Do it the other way around.

7) Choose an authentic text, audio or video and think what you could do with it
and how. Move beyond usual comprehension questions.

8) Make something. Try a worksheet, an online quiz or a way of teaching you never
tried.

9) Try out an app and plan some activities around it in the class or for homework.
Feedback

A systematic approach to development is to incorporate feedback into your


planning and teaching cycle to improve what you do and how you do it. Many of us
are taught to plan, teach and then do some post-lesson reflection. This works
great during a course but is more difficult when you have a full timetable. Below
are some ideas for introducing feedback.

1) Write the lesson objectives on the board at the start of the lesson and review
them at the end but ask the student(s) to assess what percentage of each they
have achieved. Based on this, adjust the next lesson. For instance, maybe you had
too many objectives to achieve in one session or some need more time or attention
in subsequent sessions.

2) Write and scribble on your lesson plan as you teach it and afterwards. If you use
a digital one, add comments or notes. If something isn’t working or didn’t last as
long as you planned, write next to it on the plan. To do this quickly, develop a
series of symbols or just us a cross and tick. A lot of specific feedback is lost
because we don’t remember it afterwards.

3) Pick a specific area to focus on and draw a graph after the lesson. My CELTA
tutor used to do one for student motivation over the lesson. This helps you see the
progression of the area over the class. You could try one for the course. For
language development, we dream of students constantly improving but it isn’t
true. Space between classes and holidays have an effect. The same for us as
teachers.

4) At an advanced level, you should introduce a feedback loop into each lesson
with a view to improving each part or activity. A very basic example is when you
ask “how difficult was the exercise?” then make future ones less or more
challenging. More difficult is using your observation skills to judge how a student
or the class is doing in an activity and then adapting it there and then.
Tips

1) Ask peers to observe you. Give them very exact guidelines and value their
feedback. Take it away, think about it and then make a plan of action. Remember
though that they may judge your lesson based on theirs so always ask to observe
them to.

2) Set up a community of developing teachers. This can range from staffroom chats
to emails or weekend drinks.

3) Join organisations and attend training and conferences but select wisely and
always take something away that can help you improve.

4) Don’t get complacent and hold onto your initial training methodology. That was
fine when you started on but every month you get better. Find other teachers who
are at the same stage or ahead you can learn from and with.

5) Look beyond your class. Ask about other courses and find out how they are
taught. Your students don’t live in a bubble. What they do before and after your
lesson affects their attitude and behaviour with you so strive to provide more
integration.

6) Be confident to let some activities or ways of teaching go as you get better and
take on more challenging courses and opportunities. Don’t look back.

7) Speak to your boss to find out how to get better. If you are freelance, talk to
the person who hired you. They will definitely know about student feedback.

8) Record yourself teaching and review it with a friend. Ask them to ask you
questions about what and why you did key activities.

9) Completely rewrite a lesson or course. Try it quickly and then, if you like it,
adapt the current one or replace it.

10) Keep in touch with every stakeholder to gauge and uncover comments. The
students will have opinions but also the assistant in the school, other teachers, and
anyone else involved. Find out any complaints or comments and deal with them
asap.
Sample goals

Below are my goals for several group and 1-2-1 courses for next term.

1) In a general speaking class, I plan to add A2-B1 and B2-C1 variations to activities
where appropriate. I will use increasingly demanding speaking question lists and
either ask lower levels to do the first ones and the highers the others or let them
select.

2) I’m going to introduce compulsory and optional homework for all the classes and
add a revision section at the beginning of classes to check what they did. I will
praise students and note extra homework completion so I can give additional
marks.

3) I want to improve my admin efficiency so I am working on attendance


spreadsheets to use on my phone. Students must still sign a document but I will
scan it to minimise paper usage.

4) To prevent last-minute cancellations, I hope to liaise more directly with clients


and reconfirm lessons a few days before.

5) I desire to find more clients so I must put out feelers by asking current clients
about colleagues and friends who may be interested in working together.

6) I will investigate some MOOC courses online and select a couple to study next
term.

7) To maximise class time and minimise excessive and unused after-class admin, I
am going to survey students to find out the optimum way to give feedback such as
a podcast, document or next class revision.

8) To check my TTT, I shall record part of a 1-2-1 lesson, with the student’s
consent and listen back to it, as well as ask him about the TTT to STT ratio.