Saturday, 30 May 2015

A Dip in my Teaching and Learning

A few years ago when I embarked on my MA studies, a question I kept getting asked was “why an MA and not a DELTA or Trinity Dip?” Now, almost three years on from handing in my MA dissertation, I am doing the Trinity Dip TESOL course and the question I keep hearing is “why do a diploma now after an MA?”

There’s just no pleasing some people!!

The answers to both questions have the same reasoning behind them: opportunity and relevance to my teaching context.

 
Mmmm, Dip Puns! - Image from Pixabay

 The initial impetus for further study came sometime in 2007-8 when I started to do some freelance work for the British Council in Ankara. The teacher trainer there gave me some sage career advice. “You’ve been teaching for nearly ten years now,” he said. “Experience is important of course but employers will wonder why you haven’t upgraded your qualifications if you leave it too long.”
Having entered teaching through the Trinity Cert route, my immediate thought was to investigate doing a Trinity Dip or DELTA. Ultimately, two factors stopped me at the time.

First of all, at the time the options for doing either of those courses were more limited. There were some components offered online by some schools but most courses were still full-time face-to-face, therefore requiring two or three months away from work to do the course along with the expense of upping camp to a different country for the duration. My employers at the time would not have been keen on me being away during term time (even for professional development) and would not have contributed to the costs as all so it was a non-starter.

Secondly, there was the issue of relevance. I was teaching YLs at the time and when I discussed my desire to do the DELTA/Trinity Dip with my bosses, they either were unfamiliar with the courses or saw them as only useful for teachers of adults (that may not be true, of course, but that was their perception). Colleagues who had a DELTA said they got no recognition for it – no positions of responsibility and no extra pay.

Whilst seeking advice from a guest speaker at our school about how to advance my career and improve my qualifications, he suggested an online MA. A little bit of Googling later and I had found some interesting possibilities. Two or three years seemed a long time but there was the chance to do everything without having to quit my job and also the chance to specialise. My employers were keen, especially as I was interested in taking a course with a focus on edtech (this keenness did not translate into financial support but they did accommodate my requests to use my classes to put theory into practice and collect data for assignments and research).

And so I went down the MA route. It was simply the best option at that time. I could continue to work, I had the opportunity to make it as relevant to my context of working with YLs as I wanted to, and it was financially more viable (with MAs carrying more weight with my employers than DELTAs, I would get a pay rise at the end and it overall worked out cheaper as there were no expenses related to travel, accommodation and time off work to factor in).

So that’s the story of the MA… but why do a Trinity Dip now? Well, opportunity and relevance to my teaching context are key factors again but before I get to those, there is another factor to consider.
Last year, my wife and I decided that after 14 years in Turkey, it was time to move on. I began to look into job opportunities that appeared interesting, whether they were with adults or young learners, regular schools or specialist language centres. With some potential employers, my MA along with my experience and online activities was clearly attractive but with others, another question reared its head: “Did your MA include assessed teaching practice? Was it a TEFLq course?”

Well, no, there was no assessed teaching practice on my MA. It was a fantastic course that completely transformed me as a teacher but I found myself being ruled out for jobs because it did not involve assessed observation of my teaching… That was when I decided that pursuing a DELTA or Trinity Dip in the near future would be a good idea.

And then we have the opportunity factor. The online options for these courses are now much more developed than in 2008. For both DELTA and Trinity Dip, it is now possible to do the courses mainly online with only 3 or 4 weeks face-to-face. In fact, you would be hard pressed to find an intensive face-to-face course as was the norm not so long ago. Couple that with the fact that my current employers are willing to contribute to the cost of any professional development course and the timing was right.


My video introduction for the Dip online course

As for relevance, I am now teaching adults again and I am in a position of responsibility (Language School Coordinator officially). As my duties now include organising PD for other teachers and administrative tasks, a diploma was a logical step at this time.

Plus, more importantly, there is the chance to be a learner once again, to be a teacher purposefully assessing and looking at ways to improve my teaching once again. There is also the chance to be in contact with a group of teachers from different contexts but with a shared goal of working towards a qualification and bettering ourselves as teachers. It would be wrong to think that my qualifications, background, and current position are enough. There is always something to learn, especially from others, and I value the chance to do that in a formalised way once again.

I am not really a fan of the ‘lifelong learner’ idea (and yes, I do know ‘learner’ is in my blog title) but I do believe we need to be in a lifelong (by which I mean ‘working lifelong’ state of development and reflection. The MA helped me realise and understand that. The Dip is helping me continue. And the developmental ball will keep rolling…


Reflective Balls - Image from Pixabay