Even more than the perfect TEFL CVs and cover letters mentioned in previous articles on Usingenglish.com, a good job reference can really make up for any lack of qualifications and experience someone might have when applying for a higher level TEFL job like teacher trainer. For those of us not lucky enough to be able to suggest to our boss what he or she puts in our job reference (actually something that is acceptable more often than you might think), the closest thing we can get to ensuring that it is exactly what we need is just to make sure we do what we would want to be written and make sure that it is noticed.
Here are some ideas for things you could suggest to a particularly generous boss whose daughter's life you have saved, or of extra things that might be worth doing (usually for free, unfortunately) in your present job in order to be able to get a future job where such things are paid. Hopefully our DoSs will read it as well, and give us all glowing references from now on.
In no particular order, here are some things you could try doing in the hope that they get on the job reference that will get you that (first or better) teacher trainer job:
- Give the other teachers advice, including teachers taking distance or part-time teaching qualifications (e.g. mentoring for a distance DELTA)
- Share your ideas in other ways, like making supplementary files, starting a notice board in the teachers' room for new handouts, writing for the teachers' newsletter etc.
- Use a wide range of textbooks and supplementary materials, and know about new materials as they come out
- Suggest and take part in peer observations
- Volunteer to be observed by other people- demonstration lessons, parent observations, being videoed for teacher training purposes etc.
- Give feedback on how observations are done, e.g. suggesting different observation feedback forms and observation tasks
- Suggest and take part in internal workshops, and give a good contribution to other people's workshops too
- Give the perfect CELTA-style lesson when you are being observed (leaving your more original ideas for when you are not being observed), including a perfect CELTA lesson plan
- Attend and give outside workshops, and advertise them to the other teachers
- Persuade the school to join professional organisations and take out subscriptions in teaching magazines
- Make sure that the feedback from your students is always excellent
If you are already doing teacher training, as well as things above here are some extra things you might want to try and get into your job reference one way or another:
- Once you have got your own input sessions polished up, try swapping with the other teacher trainers so you have done the whole range and so can step into any role if you change jobs
- Have as much involvement with whoever certifies your teacher training as possible, e.g. leading the push to convert your independent qualification into a Trinity one.
- Get as involved as you can in training other teacher trainers, e.g. comparing your marks with theirs after observing a lesson
- Take on a counselling role for the trainees' problems outside the classroom, e.g. spending two minutes at the end of each observation feedback session to ask if their accommodation etc. is okay
- Help with polishing up the paperwork as much as you can, e.g. expanding the list of things a trainee should be able to do to get a B
And finally, as doing all the things above the wrong way could just end up with your boss thinking you are a goody two shoes smarty pants, just be nice and be yourself!