09 Mar Meet Our Teacher Trainers: Teodora Manole
- Teo, where and when did you start teaching English as a foreign language?
I started teaching in 2010 right here, at IH Bucharest.
- How long have you worked with International House? Tell us about your career path, please.
Well, I’ll be celebrating my 10th anniversary with International House later this year. For the first three years I taught adult classes, mostly business English, but I’ve always liked to learn new things, so after doing the IH CYLT course I (quite warily) started teaching younger learners and teenagers, too. Actually, these are now the primary age groups I work with as a teacher – and also what keeps me young. J
- When did you take up teacher training?
Although not officially a teacher trainer back then, I think it all started with becoming a mentor, which was something my own wonderful mentors inspired me to strive for. This involved everything from 1-to-1 input sessions to assisted lesson planning, observations and the occasional counselling session – not too dissimilar to what happens on a CELTA course, in fact! I then slowly started delivering in-house training sessions, short in-service courses and larger-scale workshops for local teachers.
- What are the main joys and challenges of teacher training?
I see teacher training as an extension of my role as a teacher, and so I think it’s all about expanding your own range of expertise while sharing what you have learned with your trainees. I’d say there can be no love of training without a love of teaching, and so the joys are similar – foremost, the sense that what you’re doing is worthwhile, especially when you see your trainees progressing and forming their own beliefs about teaching. I suppose there’s also a little bit of “narcissism” in all of it, fuelled by seeing your trainees shape their own teaching persona, with just a little bit of your own sprinkled on top. J I think the challenges are also connected to this, as training teachers (especially ones with some teaching experience under their belt) requires the courage to expose your own beliefs, approach and know-how to scrutiny, as well as the confidence to stand by them and their idiosyncrasies.
- As a recent graduate of the demanding Delta course (the highest qualification course for EFL teachers), what qualities would you say you need to complete it successfully? (Think of that as a piece of advice for CELTA graduates aspiring to do the Delta.)
I’d say it’s useful, first of all, for teachers to have a clear view of the applicability of each module to their medium- and long-term goals, so that they can decide on the best order to do them in. In my opinion, it’s also a good idea to have plenty of (varied) teaching experience under your belt, especially when you decide to tackle modules 2 and 3. I personally found that Module 2, for example, was useful in shedding light on the rationale behind my beliefs and practices, rather than being something that tore everything I thought I knew to pieces before building it back up – which would have definitely felt like an overwhelming burden. In addition, it’s always helpful to have resilience, decent time management skills, and openness to feedback.
- Besides training, are there any other professional projects you’ve been involved in (e.g. course design, textbook writing, etc.)? If so, please tell us about them.
I still teach, of course, and I consider one of my most important projects to be guiding my teenage students (some of whom I’ve been teaching for almost 7 years) to passing the C1 Advanced exam. Another of my most worthwhile goals is to encourage my colleagues (and also my trainees) to conduct their work in a more environmentally-friendly way. For example, I started a company-wide paper recycling project and we’re slowly but steadily moving towards a more eco-aware mindset in our day-to-day jobs. Finally, in my role as TQ centre administrator, I also handle a lot of the admin work that goes into our teacher training courses and am responsible for ensuring that each course is run to the highest standards.
- How about the projects you’ve been involved in as a teacher trainer with IH Bucharest?
As Head of Teacher Training, I don’t just deal with qualification courses such as CELTA, but also with our INSETT program. As many of our novice teachers are very young or moving into teaching from different professions, I’ve developed a short pre-certification crash course that prepares them for the basics of ELT while also setting the groundwork for a subsequent course such as CELTA or IH CYLT. In fact, working with in-service teachers is a large part of my job and, while different from a CELTA, it does offer a whole lot of variety and just as much satisfaction, especially since it allows me to track teachers’ progress for longer than just the duration of a course.
- Finally, share with us 3 professional achievements you’re most proud of as a teacher trainer.
I think one of the most important has to be setting the wheels in motion for opening our Teacher Training Centre, which definitely took on a life of its own and continues to grow faster and better than I had expected, thanks to everyone involved. I’m also proud of contributing to defining a standard for in-house training sessions and contributing to its upkeep, and last but not least, I am proud to have streamlined my own training which, in turn, allows me to offer better and better learning experiences to my own trainees.