Copyright © 2016-2020 Jennifer Helfand                                     


Teacher Training Book

The first time I taught ESOL, it was after a 24-hour crash course spread out over the course of three Saturdays. I had observed four teachers’ classes before that. That was all. It was a spectacular introduction to the field, but with only three days of training, I had almost no idea what I was doing the first time I stood in front of a class.


A former colleague didn’t start teaching until after he’d completed a two-year master’s degree program. He told me despite his academic preparation, he had no idea what he was doing in his first class either.


There are things that no amount of training can prepare you for until you are actually in front of a room full of language learners.


And there are other things that can indeed be prepared for, but were rarely if ever discussed in my training courses, for numerous reasons. Sometimes it was due to a lack of time. Sometimes certain issues weren't considered essential. And sometimes it was because for veteran teachers, many things seem intuitive. But when I was a first year teacher, very little was intuitive. It was a steep learning curve. There were little things I didn't know, for example: Your students will know some aspects of English grammar much better than you do. And there were big things, such as: Fear of making mistakes isn’t only about a fear of being laughed at, and language learning isn’t only about learning a language. It is about our deepest hopes and our deepest fears.


At present, I’m writing a guide for first year teachers to share with them everything I didn’t know when I started off teaching and wish I had. Little things like: Write down all your funny classroom stories. You may wish you had them later. And big things like: Thank your students after every class. They are some of the most incredible teachers that you will ever have.  


If you’re a first year teacher with questions, or a veteran teacher with advice, please feel free to send me an email if you think there's something that should be included and/or if you're interested in collaborating.


Many thanks! I look forward to hearing from you!