The academic year 2018-2019 seemed promising, after all. I had a new contract (teaching MA students), I had contracts with several training centers, I was starting my own MA in TESOL and Applied Linguistics. Spoiler alert: it didn’t go as planned.
As a teacher, I learned valuable lessons. I have realized that teaching one-to-one was clearly not for me, and I stopped very early on. My experience at Yale helped me design a new curriculum for my MA students, focused on speaking, and I have set reachable goals for each of them. I wanted them to feel safe, to find themselves a motivation and a reason to come. I wanted to make a difference, which sounds a little bit idealistic, but I think I succeeded with some of them. One of them wrote me a note, at the end of the semester, to say that my class was always enjoyable and that she had gained confidence to speak in English. It’s exactly the goal I tried to reach with them. With my seniors, we worked on a long-term project: a trip in London, which we planned for months, before actually go in April.
As a person, I also learned a lot. Being a teacher means that you can care too much about your learners; they are not only people you see every week, they also share a lot with you, you are involved within their progress. That’s why I don’t teach exams: I would be more stressed than my students! But this year, I experienced some health issues, and a training center basically told me that I shouldn’t stop to take care of myself. I had Lasik surgery (to get rid of my myopia), and my cornea was scratched in the process. I had to rest for three weeks, and obviously, I couldn’t drive. But that particular training center decided that it wasn’t a decent reason, and they literally accused me of being lazy. Needless to say, I left that training center 🙂
As a student, I started my MA in TESOL and Applied Linguistics in September. I quite enjoyed it, but I underestimated the amount of work I would have to do, which is 100% my fault, and also the fact that I would be completely alone. I cannot compare my MA with the previous long distance certificate I did before, such as the TKT, but I really thought that I would have some support. I failed my last paper, as I had too much work, so that was not a huge surprise, but anyway, I didn’t do the job. I applied for a MA with all these wonderful ideas, with that utopian vision, and now, I have realized that maybe I am not MA material after all.
One of the most important things I have learned this year is that I deeply care about my students, and why they are learning. I am involved in my classes, I spend a great deal preparing them, and I am always trying to learn new things. It’s interesting to read about Universal Grammar, but honestly, I know I’ll never use it in real life. Writing a Critical Literary Review on the difference between adults and children learners of English was not something I regret, but I would have preferred to write about adapting authentic material.
I am not done with my MA yet; first of all, I failed a paper, second of all, it is a long distance course, so it’s taking even more time than usual. I set an unreachable goal for myself, and I am considering focusing on my DELTA instead of doing both. Doing a DELTA was something I decided a long time ago; right after my CELTA, my teachers said that I should consider a DELTA. It is way more practical, it involved having a teaching practice, to write about a specific situation, to provide answers. Doing a DELTA was always my plan, and the idea to do a MA came second. I needed experience to apply for a DELTA, I didn’t need that much for my MA. Turns out, that experience was much needed, and I should have waited before starting my MA. Maybe also, a MA in Applied Linguistics and TESOL is not what I need.
I am also TESOL France Lyon region coordinator, a job I took last September, but that I am not doing correctly. I organized some workshops, but I could do more, I could get involved more, but let’s be honest, I don’t have the time. And teaching is my priority, always. My students will always come first and foremost.
I am moving back to Bournemouth by the end of the week, to start the second module of the DELTA. I was supposed to take the first module this June, but I didn’t train enough and clearly, one failure was enough. I studied for the first module though, and I’ll take it in December.
Did I try too much this year? Yes.
Did I make a lot of mistakes this year? Yes.
Do I have to slow down? Yep.
I feel quite embarrassed to write that I had failed. I really thought I could have it all: to teach, to be a student again, to create workshops, to meet people, to go to conferences… I can’t. My priorities also changed, and I already know that I’ll work differently next academic year. If I had known how difficult that year would be, I would have stopped a lot of things beforehand.
However, I am now completely sure of the kind of teacher I want to be, and that one is valuable enough to make me feel (almost) okay.