So, I passed my CELTA course! From mid-September to mid-December I went to International House every Monday and Wednesday after work, plus some Saturdays. I expected it to be a lot of work. It certainly was hard work, but there was a lot that I didn’t expect. It wasn’t a walk in the park – it wasn’t simply a case of getting on with it and putting the hours in. The worst lesson I had was when I had planned for ten hours! The fact that progress wasn’t linear meant that it ended up being quite an emotional journey, and finishing on my final TP (teaching practise) was anticlimactic, because it wasn’t my best lesson. I wasn’t yet perfect.
By the end, I had managed to pass all my assignments the first time, had bounced back from my #weak lesson – managing not to fail any – and had saved lessons when I had made them too difficult for the learners. I’ve always had high expectations of students, but by the end of the course I definitely learnt when I need to lower the level of challenge! Although you accept the fact you’re being observed by five people every lesson, there must be an underlying nervousness that comes from that, and I 100% feel confident and relaxed about moving forward into this new profession. Initially I was a bit disappointed not to get a “Pass B” grade, but I’ve since understood just how hard it is to get them – with these trainee teachers getting Above Standard lessons, what was I thinking?
The move itself is a sideways one. I work as an Academic Mentor for English, so I teach language skills every day, but in a very different context. I see it as a another string to my bow, but, like any, one that needs honing and developing continually. In the future, I hope to have this as part of what I can offer whether tutoring or teaching. After volunteering at work and after work next year, my dream at the moment is to find a job in Spain in September/October. Having a Spanish name and not being able to speak Spanish is a constant disappointment. I admire my grandmother for learning so many languages, and feel that with enough dedication and some time actually living in the country, maybe I’ll be able to grasp enough of the language to at least hold a conversation.
What I really wanted to write about here is my journey through the course, and other than the certificate that should arrive in a couple of months, I gained so much from doing the course. I wanted it to be a good investment, so opted for the CELTA, which is around £1,600. I worked out the most convenient location and time, and it happened to be one of the most reputable places to do the courses. International House has centres all over the world, and though it may be unrealistic to expect to work within the organisation any time soon, I was particularly inspired to know that many people who work there also have creative practices they do alongside ELF teaching.
As so much of my time was taken up by the course, I could no longer attend poetry events I wasn’t featured at or running, and couldn’t visit my boyfriend all the way in Norwich. It meant we took some trips to half-way points like Colchester and Ely. What started as a seed that was planted by my boyfriend’s desire to live abroad has blossomed into a dream of my own. Now I’m left hoping he still wants to travel with me on my mission to see the world and to soak up some Spanish sun, or anywhere I can learn Spanish and be in warmer weather than the temperamental UK.
The past three and a half years I have been so focused on attending events that I had been doing it out of obligation rather than feeling I had a choice in the matter – a feeling shared by others in a similar position. Not being able to attend events has given me a renewed perspective. I now I feel I am able to prioritise other things, like actually writing, and taking care of myself both physically and mentally. Since Christmas Day I have been participating in an online challenge to write a poem per day for 12 days (The 12 Days of Form) and I have so far been able to rise to the challenge. The rollercoaster ride of the CELTA has shown me what I can achieve within the space of a few months, and I feel I am able to set myself practical goals, and writing is a lot more tangible than performing at random events.
Lastly, I saw a couple of members of Kid Glove, and after a difficult period leading up to our show and some time apart, it was good to reconnect as friends over a pint, new MAC make-up and pub grub. On the course I also met a great bunch of people, and we had a massive celebration on the last day of the course – great Korean food, and drinks at good old ‘Spoons. As much as I try to make time for friends, I want to be more flexible to see them too. Let’s see if performing at less open mic’ nights will give me more time to do other important things!
I do still want to perform, but hope I can be more free to attend events on my terms, rather than feeling like a puppet to whatever voice in my head. I want the time to write, to work on memorising newer pieces, and my boyfriend Matt has a fancy new camera he is keen to use to record a piece. Working and commuting take so much out of me, people in the same role are surprised that I manage to go home and be productive. So, by going out less I needn’t feel like a failure. I’m an introvert at heart, and I think it’s about time I embrace that and finally get a good lot of writing done. It’s still cold outside after all.
Now, onto today’s form: the ballad.