Maia Tkemaladze, an English teacher at a public school in a small town of Sachkhere (West Georgia) shares her experience of involvement in British Council projects and teacher development activities.
I have been an English teacher at a public school in a small town of Sachkhere (West Georgia) for almost 28 years. I have faced many challenges in my teaching career – from old textbooks to the lack of professional development opportunities or support with resources. Even after being hit by a devastating earthquake in 1991, my school continued working out of red vans for ten years which made teaching and learning even more challenging.
To help support English teachers in my district, the British Council provided us with access to a number of professional development opportunities, some completely free of charge. Because of this, I was able to attend the MLLT (More Learning Less Teaching), CiSELT (The Certificate in Secondary English Language Teaching), TOT (Training of Trainers), Soft CLIL (Content and Language Integrated Learning) and many other training courses.
The techniques I gained have greatly contributed to my professional development. My attitude to teaching English with an interdisciplinary curriculum clearly showed me that it was one of the most effective methods of teaching/learning the language, which very naturally motivated and engaged students in the learning process.
I was honoured to take Teacher Activity Group (TAGs) “Change Agent Training” course and then became a Change Agent myself for the English teachers in my region. I was privileged to be invited to the Conference “English For Communities”, held by British Council ETAG Teachers Conference within “Towards Stability and Prosperity” project.
I was really fortunate to be selected as one of the teacher trainers for the British Council training module “Project Based Learning in the English Classroom”. Being a trainer, getting feedback from the trainees, and implementing project-based learning in my own classroom clearly showed me that this methodology is the one all schools should use. It helps prepare our students to become 21st century citizens equipped with the necessary life skills, such as critical thinking and creativity, collaboration and digital literacy. It offers students authentic real-life problems to tackle, helps them raise their awareness of global and local issues associated with sustainable development goals.
With the current circumstances caused by COVID-19, I actively use the online teaching resources the British Council provides, to make online learning more interesting and engaging. I have used the resources from British Council LearnEnglish Teens and British Council LearnEnglish Kids websites before, but they have become crucial during school closure.
From videos with their accompanying activities, photo captions that develop my students’ speaking skill to articles about the UK culture and history – my students love practising English with these materials. Resources for young children are extremely helpful since they provide our students with songs, short stories, flashcards and of course, games which make learning fun and memorable. These activities help me as a teacher to plan not only my official classes but also successfully conduct my after school Public Speaking club.
I am grateful for all the invaluable support the British Council has provided for English teachers, throughout the years, as it has had a huge impact on our professional development and has immensely helped to transform the teaching environment in schools.