Reflecting on past experiences and applying them to her teaching method is one of Kate Morrison's tricks of the tutoring trade. Every teacher builds their own style; for her, being aware of her own teaching practice is the challenge.
"I had to reflect on my own practice and performance in the classroom," says Morrison. "As a result, it supported my teaching later on."
Being reflective and aware of ourselves isn't a natural skill for everyone. But as a teacher who taught abroad before returning to Halifax and becoming a CELTA tutor, Morrison is getting a lot of practise travelling the road of self-discovery.
CELTA, or Certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages, is awarded by the University of Cambridge, and taught in Halifax at The Language Centre at Saint Mary's University. It's an introductory English-teaching course for a range of students, from those who have no previous experience to those with experience, but no certified training.
This program puts trainees face-to-face with a classroom of students, giving them real-life teaching experience. This helps trainees directly apply what they learn, as they receive feedback on lessons and teaching practices immediately.
Coming back to Halifax after teaching abroad in Turkey for eight years, Kate Morrison had to reflect again and ask herself if she had applied a lot of these techniques to her practice.
"How am I keeping a record? Improving myself and professional development? I'm on that path and I still want to learn and keep learning. It was an awakening moment when I was watching and observing, and remembering what I learned when I took CELTA myself," she says.
Seeing that table promoting CELTA, and then completing the course 10 years ago, Morrison feels like the program truly secured work for her while she was abroad.
"I had the opportunity to travel and apply for competitive institutions. Most job postings required CELTA, and I felt secure to apply," she says. Employers around the world know what they are getting from a CELTA-certified teacher as there are certain standards that they keep.
The opportunity to teach abroad was appealing because she could work, travel and feel safe as she was doing it. Eventually her job followed her to Halifax, when she connected with the CELTA program at The Language Centre at SMU. Continuing along this career path, Morrison now works as both a teacher and as a trainer.
"We often hear: 'What kind of prospects do I have after the program?' You have so many opportunities to go abroad, to teach, work, travel. Even here in Nova Scotia there are language centres, ISANS, and online teaching. There are so many different avenues you can go down for teaching both here and abroad," says Morrison.
Morrison says that within the four-week course, trainees are going to learn a lot, but they have to make sure to always revisit what they learned in the course and apply it to the classroom.
"Keep reflecting and try to apply what you learned to help your style of teaching. It's an intense course, but it's intense for a reason. It's an important profession."