Induction, EOA, workshops, activity shares, observations – from the moment you arrive at EF you will become a part of a team of trained and experienced teachers whose job it is to guide and mentor you to become the best teacher that you can be.
Everyone starts at the beginning, and nobody expects a new teacher to come in with years of experience, confidence, and activities ready to be put to use in the classroom. The first few weeks at the school are usually spent meeting the academic team and members from other departments, completing the induction, and observing other teachers’ classes. This will give you a chance to become familiar with the school, staff, and routines.
The induction is a fairly lengthy process that can take a couple of weeks to complete, involving research on China and some of its customs, interviews with local staff and learning about the various positions within the school, and, perhaps most importantly, a detailed section where you are meant to read and become familiar with the contract itself. The induction will also outline what to look for during your observations, in terms of what the teacher is doing and how, but also how the students are responding during the lesson.
In the first week at the school, new teachers will be given several usernames and passwords that will be used to login to the various systems, including MACO, Odin, and EOA. The EOA is an online training program for EF staff, that begins at New Teacher and goes on to include Teacher, Senior Teacher and DoS. The training includes 5 different modules under each category with a series of reading or video streams followed by a short multiple-choice test. The New Teacher modules can be seen as an extension of the induction, in that it covers some of the same material, including being new to China, the company and its courses, and some basic information about young learners and lesson planning. The Teacher modules expand on this to include more methodology of teaching and how to best develop students’ English language skills.
Odin is the online program where teachers can access all the information regarding their classes. Here, attendance is marked, homework completion monitored, and progress updates are written for each student. Students and parents have access to Odin at home so it is important that teachers update their Odin at every class.
The training process at EF is ongoing, and includes weekly teaching workshops. It usually includes various activities set by the DoS to train teachers on ways that will best enhance their students’ language skills in the areas of speaking, listening, reading and writing. Activity shares become a common way in demonstrating how to do this; each teacher will prepare an activity that follows the appropriate guideline (prediction, gist, detail, comprehension, feedback) for whatever skill is being focused on.
This is a good way for the more senior teachers to give activity ideas for new teachers, for all teachers to practice their presenting and instruction checking skills, and to hear feedback from everyone after the activity is completed. The feedback session at the end of the activity is probably the most important part. This is where teachers discuss what was done well, how the activity and presentation can be improved, as well as by offering ideas on how to adapt the activity to cover different grammar points and for different age groups. Workshops can also include sessions on teaching methodology, approaches to teaching, or even test writing, such as the Teaching Knowledge Test (TKT).
The best way to learn how to teach is to watch other teachers teach their classes, which means that you will one day have someone watching your class, whether it is a new teacher just starting out, or the DoS, who will be there to analyze your teaching skills and approaches and offer you feedback at the end of the lesson. Being observed can often be a nerve racking experience, especially when you’re just starting out, but it is important to remember that the only way to improve is to have someone able to tell you what you are doing right and what things need to be changed, taken further, and how this should be done.