Have you ever asked a teacher trainer exactly how they became a trainer? What answer did you get? I’m sure it was rather long, full of ‘ums’ and ‘ahs’. At least mine was, when the charming pair at the TEFL Training Institute interviewed me as part of their podcast on the same topic. That chat inspired me to plan what I’d do if I started all over again...
The truth is, most of us who are in this role are lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time when opportunity knocks.
But as “get lucky” is a terrible piece of career advice to give, here is my fool-proof guide to becoming a teacher trainer. I say foolproof with confidence, as it worked for me.
[If it helps, feel free to put ‘Eye of the Tiger’ on full blast and picture the following as a Rocky training montage].
Make Sure You Enjoy Teacher Training
Seems like a silly step – of course you know you enjoy training! Humour me though, and if you haven’t already run workshops, mentored new teachers, and engaged in peer observations, have a try. Twist your manager’s arm (they’ll be quite happy, it’s less work for them) and get started.
Better to find out now if it’s not for you. If you don’t enjoy training, check out these alternative TEFL career paths.
2. Level Up Your Knowledge
Teacher trainers need to have their knowledge at their fingertips. Think back to a class when you’ve been asked an awkward grammar question that you can’t answer. If you’re a teacher trainer, it’s one hundred times more embarrassing.
My advice is to take a higher level qualification like the Trinity DipTESOL or Cambridge DELTA. They’re tough, but having one shows you mean business. It’ll also take care of that pesky knowledge problem. A Train the Trainer course (such as this one from Cambridge) can also show your intent quite clearly. A Master's degree can show that you have the knowledge, but most don't have a practical component, and so are less-valued for would-be trainers.
Once you’ve got your DipTESOL/DELTA under your belt, you need to be able to simplify what you’ve learned. Having a shiny new qualification, it's easy start using jargon when talking to newer teachers. As a teacher trainer (as with all teaching) you need to put your trainees first and grade your language. Start talking about derivational morphology right out of the gate and you’re going to see a lot of confused faces.
3. Level Up Your Network
Everything you want in life comes through other people, including job opportunities. The more connections you have in the ELT industry, the higher the chance of knowing someone who knows someone who knows an opportunity.
So update your Linked In page, jump on Twitter, start a blog, start a teacher meetup, write for an ELT journal, attend conferences and get back in touch with the teachers on your initial training course and your DipTESOL/DELTA. Let it be known what you’re looking for, and good things will come.
Good things haven’t come? Right, in that case...
4. Go Nuclear
Time for the big guns. Take a deep breath and;
Compile a list of all the training centres you can find online (TEFL Course Review would be a good place to start).
Hunt down the schools’ emails and managers’ names (Linked In is your friend). Even better, the get the managers’ emails or connect on Linked In.
Send a wonderfully lovely email explaining how you’ll boil their bunny if they don’t hire you be an amazing asset to their team, and asking if they have any upcoming openings for trainers?
It will happen.
Once it does, bask in the glory of being a teacher trainer and your ability to mould fresh teaching minds in your own image! Assuming, that is, you can squeeze a minute between preparing training sessions, training, reflecting, improving, reading, developing, supporting, marking, nurturing, sleeping (possibly) and so on…
Enjoy, and good luck!
What’s the biggest obstacle you’ve faced in becoming a teacher trainer (or in improving your career?). Tell me in a comment below!