Did you get frightened by the title? You should not worry about it. I took the CELTA course in Yerevan, 2013. In my case, I thought that just having the experience was enough, and I was so confident about it. However, to be able to resist the stress and high intensity of the course, you will need skills, that most probably you have never thought about. I wish I had been told about the need to use soft skills like time and stress management, and not less important to develop critical thinking skills. In this article, we are going to discuss those skills.
Managing the stress
I took a full-time course, this means one month with an 8-hour full-time daily schedule, a lot of lesson planning and completing assignments. You cannot keep working or having another commitment during the course. In a week after the course had started, I felt that I was losing control over my schedule and life. I had to take the stress of this challenging period. What helped me handle it, was the idea that I am in charge of own life; that is fundamental in stress management.
During the course, you will be worried about your tasks, deadlines, lesson plans, the lesson procedures, and the feedback from the trainers; and all these are causing stress.
Here are some ideas to help you to cope with stress. Ask yourself the questions such as ” How long will this period last?”. The answer will make you happy – just a month, this intense situation is not permanent. Another question can be “What value will the course be for the money and stress you face?”. When I was in stress, I reminded myself that it had to be a month, which was not so long, eventually, I would have the certificate; I would have great opportunities for jobs and career opportunities. Moreover, improving English and reading useful books for language teaching, revisiting the sources for interactive activities for the classroom can be good preparation and reduce the stress during the course.
Also, do not forget to allocate some time at the end of the week for yourself; spend time outdoors, in the fresh air. Spend some time with people who make you happy and feel relaxed to recharge yourself with energy.
Managing the time
While in the course, it may seem that 24 hours a day is not enough. It is not easy as the training lasts for 8 or 9 hours. Then you come home and prepare for the next day; you need to write a really detailed lesson plan or do other assignments.
You need to manage your time exceptionally well. Despite time is tight and pressure is considerable, your improved time management skills will help you perform more effectively:
- Set limited time for your lesson planning, as work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.
- Review your schedule to see where you waste more time. Such small “lies to oneself” before logging in to social platforms as “I just need 5 minutes to see what is happening in the world” tend to take a longer time.
- You may need to postpone meetings and chats with friends during the week. However, you can still socialize with them at the weekends to blow off the steam.
- Being busy does not mean being effective. Try to plan your daily schedule more productively. We should not forget that we can only manage how we use the time but not the time itself. Therefore, writing a to-do list of activities can be really helpful. Time management skills are critical during the course.
Clear and rational thinking is another tool that will help you to move through the course. Engage in reflective and independent thinking. As the course has high intensity, the communication is fast, and the information is abundant, you need to be able to structure everything more effectively and build up the lessons you will be teaching on all of that. What you need is critical thinking. Along with other skills, Critical thinking definitely improves your communication and presentation skills; the skills you will need most when teaching in the classroom. It will also influence the way you put your ideas and thoughts together when later discussing the feedback of your trainer who has observed your class. Your lessons will be observed very scrupulously, and the feedback is usually very detailed. Critical thinking is crucial when planning your lessons for the course. The lesson plans, that are written and thought over critically, are usually doom to success. You should reflect on the structure of the lesson, sequence and analyze the logical steps to achieve the goals and the lesson aims. The critical approach to the constructive feedback from the trainers is a guarantee to your success.
This First Aid Kit with the skills mentioned in this article should be approached as seriously as the hard skills you will need during CELTA. Time and stress management skills and critical thinking will determine the quality and persistence in our professional development.
Hope you will find this article helpful and it will help you to prepare for CELTA properly.