Laura holds an MA in Linguistically Diverse Education and a TEFL Certificate. She is also studying with ESA’s How to Teach Exams certification course.
She was teaching in public school for about 3 years, then moved to Asia and got a job in an international school teaching ESL. When she moved back from Asia, she started looking for a job in a language school.
Below is her story about how she accidentally started teaching TOEFL iBT lessons and how it turned out much better than she expected.
“My school called and said, “So how do you feel about teaching an exam prep class for TOEFL?” and I said “Sure” without even knowing what it was. I went and Googled it to find out that there was this whole world associated with it that I didn’t even know existed.
I felt that, given some background information, I could do it because I’ve taught for so many years, but I definitely needed some sort of professional development. I found a lot of blogs and some websites that were more for the student than for teachers, but there’s not so much out there for TOEFL teachers.
Then I stumbled upon English Success Academy. My biggest hesitation about enrolling in How to Teach Exams was “Am I walking into the Internet weird land where someone is just trying to sell you something?” But I was needing something desperately and there was just a sincerity about the program that resonated. And therefore I thought “Ok, I’m willing to take the risk.” That’s when I spoke with Jaime Miller a couple of times. When I reached out to Jaime and she responded to me, that personal interaction made me a lot more comfortable with diving in and doing it.
Enrolling in How to Teach Exams just made the ability to walk into the classroom confident so much easier. If I had used the books that were provided by the school, I would have spent hours trying to understand them. There was so much in a book, I couldn’t imagine looking at 4 or 5 books — whereas when I was able to use the How to Teach Exams course materials, there was already an outline for me to use. I was able to get lesson sequences and I would plan my lessons using the lesson sequence that was suggested. Seeing it modeled by Jaime Miller in her recorded video lessons, and then being able to discuss it in the Q&A to clear up any questions was really useful.
The Digital Reference Book is written for me, the teacher, to help my students achieve their goals.
So, one of my students who had a target of 53 went and took the test… She scored 72 and completely rocked Speaking – she got a 23 in the Speaking section! She was on cloud nine, I was super happy for her as she really did get to cross the TOEFL exam off her list. She starts university in the spring.
So, it’s very exciting. I felt really good about what I had learnt along the way because I saw that what I was doing with her actually worked and she achieved her goal.
It validated my own personal goals of “What am I going to do when I grow up?” Perhaps teaching TOEFL iBT isn’t the most fun thing to teach, but in many ways, it feels more rewarding to me because there’s a tangible outcome. Most of the students I’ve taught before were studying English just to “get better” whereas exam prep has a beginning and an end.
When the student achieves their goal, it is very rewarding.
This made me think that there are a lot of situations and opportunities out there where I can become involved in and do what I like to do, which is help people.”