It’s All About the “Good-Day”

During an input session on classroom management, my Delta tutor shared some wise words with us: “the teacher should be neutral, emotionless, and independent of external factors.”

He was talking about the idea that a teacher’s emotions shouldn’t have any effect on the lesson and the atmosphere of the classroom. Simply put: whether the teacher is having a good day or a bad day should have diddly squat to do with how the lesson goes.

Luckily, when the tutor said this, he was having a good day.

A number of Delta colleagues of mine, who completed their courses at various centres around the world, have commented on the fact that their Delta tutors clearly had good and bad days.

What’s more, these good and bad days had a clear impact on the tutor’s mood, and therefore on the atmosphere of the course. For example: one colleague noted how a small linguistic mistake led to him being scolded before his peers, just because the course tutor was a little more sensitive that day.

Trying not to have an emotional reaction when things go wrong is something I have had to learn to deal with myself – particularly when being observed.

However, why is it that this – like so many other topics – is an area which your tutor can rip you to shreds on but he or she doesn’t have to show the slightest ounce of appreciation for what they preach?

Why is it, your tutor can fail you for “explaining” to the learners rather than “showing” them, yet during feedback your tutor can merely “explain” what you need to be doing in lessons but fails to show you how to do this?

Why is it Delta trainees the world over do things incredibly differently – things which stand in complete opposition to each other – just because it follows what “the tutor is looking for”?

Isn’t it supposed to be the Cambridge Delta is a standard which everyone strives towards? I thought the whole idea behind the essays and the planning documents was that you went into an assessed lesson prepared and ready to justify on what basis your pedagogy is principled – not merely an exercise in filtering out the bits your tutor will hate and working in all the stuff they speak highly of.

There are always at least two tutors on a Delta course. Why is it trainees have to totally reinvent their teaching when they move from tutor A to tutor B because “B doesn’t like PPP – thinks it’s a total waste of time.”

What if you can justify in a sound way the use of PPP? For example, you’re teaching a mixed-ability class and you think the majority haven’t seen the Past Perfect before, and you want to make sure everyone has the basics covered before moving on to some practice?

Well tough! The tutor doesn’t like it. Remember boys and girls: this course is a diploma in seeing you satisfy the powers above you – let just hope they are having a good day!

7 thoughts on “It’s All About the “Good-Day”

  1. I think there is generally too much of ‘my way is the right way’ in ELT training, when there is little if any evidence that any ‘way’ is effective in all situations. As the huge number of highly proficient non-native speakers shows, grammar translation was successful. Ok, we could argue that it wasn’t successful for everyone, but it clearly was for some. As teachers we build up our repertoire of techniques and skills, based on what we believe works, often from what we experience in the classroom, but also because of what we read, often from the author who shouts the loudest, not necessarily the one with the most evidence. Which is the way it should be – it’s our development after all. But then too many trainers decide that their repertiore is the right and only way and assess others accordingly. This is not the way it should be. As trainers we should be looking at teachers and assessing whether or not the techniques a teacher is using are effective with that specific class and that specific time, and then perhaps giving suggestions of alternative ways of doing things, not basing our judgement on how close to our ‘way’ of teaching they are.

    Great blog. Something I’ve been thinking a lot about recently during my first term doing PD observations.

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    1. Thank you for your comment – I’m always very grateful when a comment is left 🙂

      I absolutely agree with you: many methods have worked for a lot of learners out there. In fact, each method has its pros and cons.

      I was talking with a friend today who has recently finished his Delta and funnily enough he said his trainer would look at his work solely with the aim of establishing whether he had included what the trainer would have included – anything else is either wrong or superfluous. I think that says a lot about the “my way is the right way” attitude.

      I think, as you yourself wrote, we can offer different ways of doing things but it’s very difficult to prove something simply doesn’t work.

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  2. There were loads of subjectivity and ambiguity on this course, and the same is unfortunately true about our whole field. In real life we need to adjust all the time to what our bosses / clients like or believe about teaching. If the main purpose of DELTA was preparing us for the harsh reality, is has surely done that!

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    1. Hello! Thank you for the comment. I don’t know if you’ve done Module 2 of the Delta, but just for anyone who hasn’t, there is a very important section where you have to spell out in exact words the educational background of your learners, what they do and don’t know, and why this lesson delivered in this way is appropriate for them. It wouldn’t surprise me too much if I were to learn most tutors just “scan over” this section as quickly as possible, not taking any of the significant details into account.

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