Now that my TEFL certification course is done, I finally have time to devote to my life again. It seems everything was put on hold while I dealt with the general insanity of the course. I wouldn’t change a minute of it, though – I learned a lot about TEFL, but I also learned a lot about myself.
A growth mindset was certainly essential during my four weeks of training. I walked into that course knowing nothing about current teaching methodologies for English as a Foreign Language, and I walked out perfectly capable of preparing and delivering a level-appropriate English lesson plan within thirty minutes. (So thank you, Long Arm of TEFL, but I still hate you.)
The days were long (regularly ten to twelve hours). The classes were interesting, but often intense. I had to study up on my English grammar. Seriously, do any of you know what a mixed 1/3 conditional is? We use it in our daily language, but so few of us know it by name. Just like the Future Continuous tense, or how modals and phrasal verbs work. The methodology itself was intriguing: we were taught the ESA structure: Engage, Study, and Activate. We were to engage our students with relevant and interesting topics, study the new lexis or grammar points, and then activate the new knowledge with scenarios from real life. Students were encouraged to speak as much English as possible, and we would provide on-the-spot error correction.
When I first began to plan my lessons using the ESA structure, each lesson plan took me between two to four hours. There were activities to plan, pictures to find and print, photocopies to make, and a capricious Internet to deal with. But I knew I could do it. And I did. Got my lesson planning time down to thirty minutes for Long Arm, didn’t I?
Even more important, I enjoyed myself. I enjoyed my classmates – such wonderful people, from all over the US, Canada, and Europe. On my birthday they made me a homemade card and had nearly twenty people sign it, brought me chocolate cake for my lunch, bought me a little plant to take home, and generally told me how young I looked for my almost forty years. I had to teach that night, and my Czech students also gave me birthday wishes.
Isn’t it amazing how you can be loved and supported, even half a world away from all the people who had always had the job of loving and supporting you?
So yes, I’m learning about myself. And I’m learning about trust. How I can trust myself, yes, but how I can also let go and trust the universe. I came to Prague with only a vague idea of what might happen here, only a glimpse of what the future may hold. But I still came. I trusted myself, and I trusted the universe to support me.
Trust is the foundation of all courage. To be brave, or bold, we need to step out of our comfort zones. We need to take a step into the darkness and trust that the earth will still be under our feet. When all other lights go out, we need to trust in the light that exists inside each of us. And if by chance we walk for a time alone, at least there is always that one light, the one inside us.
You see, when it’s dark out, that’s when all our little lights can truly shine. It’s just like looking up into the midnight sky and seeing the wash of the Milky Way. Some things can only be seen when you are in the thick of the shadow, and the dark. This darkness can live inside us, right next to our light, and that’s okay, too. We can’t just wish the darkness away, or sweep shadows under a rug.
I am so glad I trusted myself, those moments when I questioned my work at Alberta Innovates – Technology Futures. I questioned the wisdom of leaving a good salary and a great team, all for some undefined future that could barely be glimpsed or seen. But I knew I wanted an adventure, and trusted myself to create it.
So the next time you think about courage and bravery, perhaps also think about trust. You may trust others, but do you trust yourself?
Try it sometime. It’s scary, but it’s also awesome.
Oh, and I got an A minus in my course. Boo. Yah.
Now I just have to find a job, but I’m not too worried about that. The universe will support me in this, too.
Edited to add a huge shout-out to The Language House in Prague, and my equally huge thanks to Chris Westergaard, Nica Latto, Chris Foxwell, Andrea Baylis, Adrienne Kirby, and all the other trainers and observers who got me through the course.