I am just me. [semi-fiction for training course participants]

Alternate title: A Tale of Three Participants

Kim

I don’t think I belong here. The teacher training course has just started but I don’t think I can really enjoy it. I’m already stressed out. I’m worried I don’t fit in here. I know I worry too much sometimes but everyone else is so smart, talented, enthusiastic and experienced but I am just me. I don’t think I have anything to offer the group and I am worried I will always be stealing ideas from these great teachers without adding anything for the whole course. I’m sure I’m the worst trainee here. I’m not good at English and what’s worse I am not so good at teaching either. I always make so many mistakes in English and in teaching. I know I have a lot to learn and I am lucky to be with such a great group but I feel out of place with all these great people around me. I wonder how I can survive this course.

Park

The good news is I can speak English pretty well. Everything else is the bad news. I think am in the wrong place. My teacher training course has just started and I am very impressed by my group members. Some have been teaching for many years and some have brilliant ideas about teaching and most of them have lots of knowledge and experience. I am just me and I don’t have any of that. I only have what I read in university classes but I don’t really know what I am doing in my class at school. Here, we are expected to talk about teaching and share and reflect on our experiences. I’m worried that my experience is not long enough or valuable enough. I feel like I have nothing to offer the group. I don’t think anyone wants to hear about my silly problems and big failures from school. What can I do? I don’t know how I can survive this course.

Lee

The training course just started and I think I’m the oldest in the group! Everyone will expect me to be full of knowledge and insight because of my many years of experience but I am just a regular teacher. Yes, I have been teaching for a long time but that doesn’t mean that I am a good teacher. It doesn’t really mean anything except that I have been teaching for a long time. I’m very worried because I think I don’t fit in here with all these excellent younger teachers. They are so smart and sharp. Was I ever that young and full of energy? I don’t think so. I am just me, a regular teacher. They were trained in all these new ways and know all this new stuff and are so good at speaking English. This is going to be a long and difficult course. I am worried everyone will expect too much from me and then will see I am just a regular teacher. How embarrassing! Now everyone will know exactly how I compare to these younger and better teachers. I am not looking forward to this at all.

Author’s Notes:

I wrote this with in-service Korean teacher training course participants (and trainers, I suppose) in mind (though I wonder if some of the issues are applicable in other contexts). I am always fascinated when I hear that nearly everyone in the group is intimidated by and in awe of everyone else. I thought that highlighting and dealing with some of these issues at the start of the course might aid in both confidence and group dynamics. I also thought and hoped that working with this text might give participants a chance to consider and offer strategies that they could later use themselves when faced with similar feelings.
I am worried that the people I wrote about were both equally overly stereotypical and too close to home for certain teachers so I think this material should be used with care. I saw this material as possibly used as a sort of “code*” where participants could offer advice to the teachers in the text. A final thought I had on using this material is that the different stories could be used as model/sample reading lesson that might include a bit of jigsawing where in the end those who read a particular part are expected to share it with those who read the other parts. I would love to hear about it if anyone used this!

Stats and style:

Each part is between 160-190 words. I tried to write in a pretty basic style. A quick search of readability statistics seemed to confirm this. The stats for all three parts.

Coleman Liau index : 6.30

Flesch Kincaid Grade level : 5.45

ARI (Automated Readability Index) : 4.77

SMOG: 8.10

Flesch Reading Ease : 80.00

I should mention that I was not as worried about readability as I might be with a group of non-teachers. I did want to keep the language simple but at the same time I didn’t want to over-simplify.

*”Code” as in a starting situation/problem as seen in the Participatory Approach.  This link sort of hits on what I was trying for/thinking about or at least provides a nice start for some more research. 

 

Update: My friend/mentor/colleague Justin Trullinger is running a training course in Lebonon and created this version (a tale of three) of the stories. Please feel free to use and adapt these to fit your contexts. If you make changes I’d love for you to share them so I can share them here.

7 comments

  1. Chris Wilson

    I liked this, I can certainly relate to some of the ideas here, maybe you should add in a “native speaker” character as well. I remember on my course all the Native Speakers were intimidated by the Non-natives knowledge of Grammar and Language, but the Non-native speakers were intimidated by the pronunciation/lexical knowledge etc of the Native speakers. It might be nice to address those issues too.

    • mikecorea

      Hey Chris,
      Thank for the comments! Interesting idea about the “NS.” I didnt even think of it because I was focused on a very (overly?) specific group. I think adding the native speaker might add some a lot (especially in terms of the things you mentioned)> Cheers!

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  3. Justin Evan Trullinger

    This is striking. It really mirrors my experience of how in teacher-training group formation, everyone seems to think that others are better prepared/adapted/skilled than them, but literally no one sees themselves as the more-skilled other.

    I will be using this in January/February in Ecuador! I’ll let you know how it goes. (Do you mind if I change the participant names to Lopez, García, and Ramírez?)

    I also wondering about adding in some feelings about the natives in the group, or the native English speaking instructors…this seems to be another real source of intimidation for some. Many language teachers make their reputation, or at least part of it, on how “well” they speak/understand a given language. While they’re excited to meet natives, and really interact with the language, it’s scary too- as the natives are the ones who (may) notice that they aren’t as good at the language as they like people to think.

    • mikecorea

      Justino,

      I’d be thrilled if you used this on a training course. And yes, please do let me know how it goes. Ramirez does have a certain ring to it. 🙂

      I really enjoyed watching a colleague use these in Korea for a demo/sample lesson and it really went over well.Her lesson was great and the material itself drew some nice feedback.

      It seems like the “ns” group is another big consideration as both you and Chris mentioned it in the comments here. As you know, I was thinking in terms of Korea and I wasn’t sure how much would be translatable elsewhere. It seems that there is room for a few more “types” here.

      When I wrote this I was trying to capture some of the rumblings and things I had heard in the past as well as subtly trying to address the mathematical impossibility that everyone is below average. And then give some space to think about it and address these potentially lingering issues. I’d love to hear how it goes for you with this!

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