I’ve thought for a while about whether to publish this, knowing that people from my Delta course read my blog, colleagues read it, that representatives of my current employer probably do, and that potential future employers may read it as well. But I really need to get it out of my system. And if I didn’t publish it, I feel like I would be hiding something that needs to be written about.
Delta is doing my head in!
I’ve been ill for the last month (a combination of IBS, which I’ve never had before and you probably didn’t want to know about, and a bad cold/cough/losing my voice). Now admittedly, last year was very busy, and the lack of a proper, doing-nothing-at-all type holiday for 12 months probably had something to do with it, but I strongly suspect that constant thinking about Delta probably tipped me over into nearly two complete weeks off work – and the guilt and resentment I felt about having to take that time off probably made it worse too.
The amount of motivation I need to actually achieve anything towards my Delta seems to be increasing exponentially. For everything I hand in, it seems to take twice as much motivation to get through the next piece of work. I’ve had a relatively relaxing Delta-free ten days off for Christmas and the New Year, after the two weeks of no Delta at all that I had when I was off sick. I came home on New Year’s Day to give myself five days to Delta in before going back to work. So far, in two days, I have read two documents for background reading, gone through two sets of exam guideline answers and done half of an exam training document . To do each of these it has taken me at least twice as long as it should have done, with probably more time spent on procrastinating than work in each of these cases. I have no motivation to write a timetable and stick to it. What would be the point? As long as I hit my deadlines. Before I started the Delta, I thought I would like a distinction. After a couple of weeks I thought ‘As long as I pass, who cares what grade I get.’ And I still intend to pass, but I find I can’t be bothered to work a lot of the time.
After six hours of ‘work’ today, probably consisting of about two hours of actual work, and about the same yesterday, I am already tired and in tears because I am so frustrated. And I still haven’t started doing any work for Module 3 (extended assignment) at all yet. All the effects of my holiday seem to have worn off already, and my illness, which seemed to have almost gone three days ago, has come back with a vengeance. That can’t be coincidence.
Take regular breaks, I hear you say. Since I started the distance part of the course at the end of October, I have only had three (I think) weekends which were entirely dedicated to Delta. Most weekends I have gone out in the evenings to meet friends/go to the cinema/…, and many weekends I have had a complete day off. I’ve had two complete weekends off since then, until I got ill. Since the middle of November, I have done almost no Delta on weekday evenings, sometimes working on one evening if I could motivate myself to do it. I am lucky enough to work 9-5 so I have a regular timetable, and should have some energy to work in the evenings, but I just don’t. I don’t really see how I can have any more breaks. And I can’t go away on holiday unless I don’t plan to have any time off for the rest of 2013. I’ve already booked the week after the Delta exam off work.
At the start of the course I felt like I was learning quite a lot. Now I feel like I am filling up pieces of paper with pointless notes about how to do the exam in the (too short) allotted time. Oh yes, the exam. Is it just me or does the Delta exam not actually test whether you are a good teacher or not? I know that the things you have to study for it are useful, and I’m sure without an exam most people wouldn’t bother with it, but surely some of that stuff could be put into module 2 teaching practice more. How about a spoken exam? It would require more manpower, sure, but why not have Skype exams? Recorded video ones? Those are my best suggestions at the moment, but this is something I thought long before I started doing Delta, and it’s a feeling that just won’t go away. All it seems to test is whether you’re good at studying for and doing exams, and whether you can handwrite for three hours without your arm falling off. Luckily, I’m normally fine in exams, so I shouldn’t worry, but all it does is annoy me that other people might fail despite being amazing teachers. What part of teaching is a three-hour exam really applicable too? Apart from maybe helping you sympathise with students you are preparing for exams.
The most frustrating thing about all of this is that THIS IS NOT ME. I like studying. I like learning new things. I even, weirdly, don’t mind doing exams. I normally want to do the best I can in any course I do. I love teaching. I want to be a better teacher. But is this really the best way to do it? Now I feel stressed, I find I increasingly don’t really care about Delta, I am bored with it, and annoyingly, I sometimes find I’m not really that bothered about my lessons: “Oh, that’ll do.” THIS IS NOT ME.
But it’s OK, because this is apparently normal for Delta students. You should expect to feel like you don’t know how to teach (I haven’t felt like I don’t know how to teach (big-headedly perhaps), and I’ve always known that I have a lot more to learn about it). I don’t like hippy-dippy overly cheery ‘everybody is amazing’ type things, and I am a realist about this kind of thing, or at least I like to think so, but why should you be torn down and built back up again. Surely it should be a gradual, positive, building process all the way through your career. Dream on?
On the plus side, because of Delta I’ve read some books I wouldn’t have read otherwise. I’m thinking about starting a kind of blog-based EFL methodology book club after I’ve finished Delta, if I can motivate myself to keep reading. Another plus point: I’ve learnt some terminology I didn’t know before, which helped me understand said books.
So how else can you get in-depth certified CPD that will let you become a DOS or a teacher trainer or simply a better qualified teacher? There must be a better way than this. Suggestions on a postcard please.