In the following interview, Laura Woods, who holds an MA in Linguistically Diverse Education and a TEFL Certificate, talks with Jaime Miller about her choice to enroll in the How to Teach Exams course, as well as the impact of the course on her students’ scores and Laura’s own view of herself as a teacher.
The Full Interview
00:00 – What’s your background in ESL and teaching?
00:55 – How did you end up teaching TOEFL iBT?
02:15 – Why did you enroll in How to Teach Exams?
04:45 – Did you have any doubts about enrolling?
06:30 – What was your TOEFL class like?
09:05 – How did you use How to Teach Exam’s Digital Reference Book?
13:20 – What benefits did you get from the Q&A sessions?
19:15 – What were the final results for one student?
20:20 – How do you feel about teaching exams now?
Excerpts from Laura’s Interview
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. I felt that given some background information I could do it because I’ve taught for so many years but I hadn’t taken the test, what it was or why anyone even took it. There’s literally thousands of books. I found a lot of blogs and some websites that were more for the student than for teachers and how to teach exam prep.
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?” There was just a sincerity about the program that resonated. That’s when I spoke with Jaime Miller a couple of times. She responded immediately which meant something. I didn’t have to wait days. I felt good about it after having spoken with her and excited. When I reached out to Jaime and she responded, 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!The way How to Teach Exams is outlined, I was able to get lesson sequences. 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.
I joked with my colleagues I was one step ahead of students in class because of How to Teach Exams. Literally, we would cover Reading and then the next class with students was Reading, and on and on.
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 course materials, there was already an outline for me to use. The Digital Reference Book is written for me, the teacher.
One of my students called me after her exam and she was on cloud nine. She scored 72 when she only needed 53 so she really did get to cross the exam off her list. It’s really exciting. She gets to start university in the spring.
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. For most of the students I’ve taught, they were just doing it to “do better” whereas exam prep has a beginning and an end. When the student achieves their goal, it was very rewarding. It made me want to help more people. I feel like I’ve only just touched the surface of this. This lets me do what I like to do, which is help people!
There are a lot of situations and opportunities out there where I can help people.