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CELTA written assignment: lessons from the classroom


The purpose of the assignment

The CELTA handbook explains that this assignment allows you to demonstrate that you can:


The structure of the assignment: reflecting and evaluating your teaching

Your centre will probably give you a set of instructions for your assignments.  You'd be foolish to ignore these.
What follows is generic advice.
In this assignment, you are pretty much on your own in terms of content but the structure is predictable from its purposes (above).
This assignment has two main parts.  You do not need an introduction because it is clear what it is about.


Identifying the strengths and weaknesses

The first thing to do is to look back over your feedback from tutors, students and fellow participants.  From that you need to identify strengths and weaknesses and categorise them in some way.  Here are some suggestions:

If you would like to have that list as a form for you to fill out, it's available here.  The form has extra spaces for you to add areas of concern.
The form also has 4 numbers at the end of the second page for you to list the priorities for action.  After you've filled in the form, look through it to identify what they should be.  Anything with a tick in the Not usually and Never columns is a suitable candidate.
The last page of the form is optional and focuses on the roles you are able to take on the classroom and how good you think you are at them.
The guide to teacher roles will tell you more about how you should assess your abilities in this area.


Taking action

Now you need an Action Plan.
They usually come in four parts and can be helpful presented as a table, like this:

Priority Reason Action Evaluation
My instructional language is often too lengthy and unclear Unclear instructions lead to wasted classroom time and decrease the sense of orderliness and purposefulness in the classroom
  1. I will observe colleagues and make a special note of how they give instructions
  2. I will script my instructions on my lesson plan
  3. I will ask someone to observe my lessons focusing particularly on this area
  1. I will record my lessons to hear if my instructions are improving
  2. I will make a note of any time I have to stop and repair an instruction and see if I can do it less often
  3. I will include reference to instructions in my end-of-week questionnaire to see what the students think along the lines of:
    "Do you always know what to do in class?"
I don't handle error well If learners are not guided by a focus on key errors, learning and development is inhibited
  1. I will research websites and the literature to see what I can find to help me
  2. I will stop and think for 5 seconds before I correct
  3. I will take more opportunities to get the learners to self- or peer-correct
  4. I will ask someone to observe my lessons focusing particularly on this area
  1. I will record my lessons to hear if my correction techniques are improving
  2. I will include this area in a general learner questionnaire, asking "If you make a mistake, does the teacher help you understand the problem?"
I get stumped too often by grammar and meaning questions  Nobody, not even your tutors, knows everything but it's important to be on top of your subject and plan ahead for possible questions and problems.
Knowledgeable teachers inspire confidence and the opposite is true.
  1. I will research the areas I am teaching in more depth than resources written for my learners
  2. I will write a list of the questions I might be asked and think about the answers
  3. I will not be afraid to say I don't know but I will follow up questions I can't answer on the spot and come back to people – always.
  4. I will ask someone to observe my lessons focusing particularly on this area
  1. I will make a note every time I can't answer a learner's questions and research the area so I am ready for the next time
  2. I will look at my notes to make sure they are diminishing in number over time
and so on      

Notice that

  1. The first column states the problem
  2. The second column explains what effect on learning the weakness has (i.e., why it is important)
  3. The third column says what you will do
  4. The fourth column explains how you will measure the outcomes and see any improvement.

There is an important distinction between columns three and four.  There is little point in taking action if you have no way of measuring whether it is effective.

There is an entire section of this site devoted to teacher development.  Go there for more ideas.


Wait a minute!

Before you submit your assignment, here's a quick checklist.  You can have this as a PDF file by clicking here or you can mentally tick things off on the screen.

  1. I have drawn on:
    1. my own insight
    2. the responses of the learners
    3. my colleagues' feedback
    4. my tutors' feedback
  2. I have discussed strengths and weaknesses in at least:
    1. planning and preparation
    2. presenting language and skills
    3. providing practice
    4. classroom management
    5. handling error
    6. developing skills
    7. developing systems knowledge and ability
  3. I have prioritised three areas for development
  4. I have said why they are priorities
  5. I have said what actions I shall take
  6. I have said how I will measure my success in improving in these areas

Now assess yourself against the criteria for the assignment.  Here they are again.  Have you been able to:

Your tutors will maintain a record of the work you have done on the written assignments and will grade each of the criteria as follows: NS (Not to Standard), S (at Standard) or S+ (above Standard).
You need to aim consistently for S or S+ grades, naturally.

If you have managed to tick all the items, well done.  Submit the assignment and move on.

The CELTA written assignment guides:
Focus on the learner(s) Focus on skills
Focus on structure Lessons from the classroom