The perfect CV and cover letter for a teacher trainer
Summary: How to secure a job as a teacher trainer
In a way giving tips for the CV of a teacher trainer is a little strange, because how often do you see advertisements saying "Teacher Trainer wanted"? As with all the "Perfect CV" articles on Using English, however, this article is designed not just to help you snap up a teacher training job should you see one going (temporary teacher trainer positions do get advertised in London in the summer, for example) but also to help you plan your TEFL career so that you eventually have all the ingredients of a perfect teacher trainer's CV, for example by choosing a teaching job that will be a step in the right direction if teacher training is your ultimate aim.
All of the tips below are based on my own experience of employing and training teacher trainers for a 4 week TEFL certificate course, and of employing teachers who we thought might be able to work their way slowly into training on such a course. As such, my tips are mainly based on advice I have given people who want to become trainers on the CELTA and similar initial TEFL courses. Although I have tried my best to make it more generally applicable, if the kind of teacher training you will do is very different (e.g. training primary school teachers for a charity), you will need to research the job you want very carefully and adjust the advice below accordingly.
Education and Qualifications
Even more than in teaching, teacher trainers should try to get as many qualifications as possible. As well as being able to answer questions that are outside the scope of the course and give the trainees advice on what their next steps should be in terms of qualifications once they have finished your course, this can be particularly important if trainees are upset by factors like low grades and so are looking for ways to attack the legitimacy of the course. In these cases even 20 years experience does not really make up for only having the same basic qualifications as you are now training people for, especially as some trainees could also have considerable teaching experience before taking your teacher training course. Having done the same or a similar qualification at some time in your past is a good thing, however, as it shows trainees that you understand their situation as you have been through something similar yourself, and that you believe in the qualification enough to have invested your own time and money in it.
For those of us without a PhD, the general rule is that the minimum level of qualifications for a teacher trainer is one level above the qualification they are teaching, e.g. a DELTA for a CELTA trainer or an MA for a DELTA trainer. This doesn't mean that you won't get jobs without that, especially if you have many of the factors mentioned below going for you, but having qualifications and making sure the trainees know it is one way of getting them to trust what you say and not pull you up every time you contradict Jeremy Harmer.
The perfect list of qualifications for someone applying when I was recruiting was:
- CELTA or similar 4 week TEFL course, preferably a well known one and taken before any TEFL teaching experience. A grade A or B can make a huge difference- especially if you don't have additional qualifications, but even if you do.
- Another practical teaching qualification, preferably one with observed and graded teaching practice. This usually means the DELTA or similar diploma in TEFL, but could mean a PGCE or other public school teaching certificate, or one of the minority of MAs that include observed teaching practice. Having taken this qualification as soon as possible shows you are keen, as do any high grades or positive comments from your trainers you can mention.
- A higher teaching qualification such as an MA or PhD, preferably one with a teacher development specialisation or component.
- A garnish of other little qualifications like the CTEYL extension course or the LCCI certificate in teaching Business English.
Presently studying for a qualification is generally a good second best to already having it, but it might be worth pointing out somewhere on your application or during the interview that the burden of study will not interfere with your work or that you can put parts of the study off during busy times.
If you are not a native English speaker, similar points are true for your language level- having perfect English helps, but having (recent) qualifications is even better. Although a high level IELTS or TOEFL score is great, in the countries where it is recognized Cambridge Proficiency in English (CPE) probably has the best "wow factor"- if only because of its name and the fact that it is the top of a whole suite of exams. If you don't have time to take a specific English language exam, details of your other qualifications and studies through English, such as a degree from an American university, are well worth stressing on your CV.
Please note that some organisations are offering short online courses for people who want to become TEFL teacher trainers, but most of these are neither well known nor accredited by outside bodies.
The best possible experience for a teacher trainer is having done exactly the same kind of training with exactly the same kind of trainees before. For example, if the job is for a Cambridge CELTA trainer, 2 years experience of exactly that is probably more likely to get you the job than 4 years as a Trinity Certificate trainer, despite the many similarities in the work. This can sometimes be true even when the CV of the person with the exact same experience as the job being advertised is much weaker than the other candidates, simply because the school lacks the time and/ or effort to train someone up for the position. It is very important, therefore, to make it clear in your CV that the kind of teacher training you have done (either as part of a specific teacher trainer job, or as part of your duties as an ELT manager, teacher etc) is just like what you will be doing in that job. It can also be important to choose the teaching qualifications you take yourself and train for in your first teacher training job as ones that you will be able to find future work connected with, e.g. to make sure they are well known and available all over the world.
Involvement with teacher training you might want to mention includes:
- The total number of hours of teacher training you have given
- The total number of trainees you have trained
- The total number of years since you first got involved in teacher training
- Any outstanding figures about that training, such as your trainees getting the best grades nationally or getting a high percentage of people into (good) jobs
- The number of trainees on each course you gave, as training 30 people in a room is very different from 4 or 5
- The previous teaching experience, qualifications and language level of the trainees
- The number of hours of each course
- If the courses were part time, full time or super intensive
- The topics and titles of workshops and input sessions written and/ or given
- Experience of observing and grading teaching, giving written and face to face observation feedback, and the variety of observation tasks used
- Any training on how to be a teacher trainer you were given before or during the time you were a teacher trainer
- Involvement in training other teacher trainers or ELT managers
- The number of hours of training you were directly involved in during your busiest week and/ or the percentage of all the training work on that course you undertook (e.g. "I gave 60% of all the input sessions and observed 50% of the classes".
- Any other contributions you made to the development of the course, e.g. suggesting new input session topics
- Published books, articles and book reviews on the topics of teaching and teacher training, especially ones written for the level you will be training (e.g. basic guides for beginner teachers).
- The most high status places you have given workshops etc, e.g. at national universities or international conferences. If you also got positive feedback on the training you gave from someone famous or in an important job you might also want to mention it, but make sure it doesn't sound too "lovey"
If you have never or rarely been involved in giving workshops or other teacher training, relevant things you could mention to make up for this include:
- Amount and types of post-qualification teacher training you have attended, and what you have learnt about being a good teacher trainer by being a participant in it. You could also mention if any of your trainers were well-known and what you learnt from them.
- Having your lessons observed. You could also mention the experience of the people who observed you ("bi-monthly observation by DELTA qualified teacher trainer") and if you had been chosen to be observed by trainee teachers
- Being involved in peer observations
- Having taught the same kinds of students, class sizes, nationalities etc. as the trainees will teach when they have finished the course you are applying to be a teacher training on
- A wide range of teaching experience, especially since your last qualification
- Helping out other teachers in the teachers' room or during teacher training you have attended
- Articles and other advice you have written for teachers
- Comments from a director or others saying that you are suited to teacher training
- Personality and experience particularly suited to being a teacher trainer, e.g. ability to explain grammar to people who have never studied it
- Particular motivations for wanting to become a teacher trainer, for example dissatisfaction (expressed gently) with teacher training you have attended, or an inspiring teacher training experience that you want to be able to offer other people
You could also mention:
- Subscription to teacher training journals
- Non-TEFL teacher training you have attended or given
- Non-teacher training, especially things that could be adapted for TEFL like NLP, counselling or presentation skills