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August 12, 2011 / tefalump

The stages of a DELTA assignment

I haven’t posted for a while. This is because I’ve been in London doing the second module of the DELTA. For those who don’t know, this is the bit where people actually watch and assess your teaching and it’s massively stressful. I suspect it may actually be designed to kill us. Still, I’ve done three out of the four Language Systems (or Skills) Assignments and I’ve noticed an emerging pattern which I thought I’d share. So… here it is.


Stage 1. The idea. You decide on a topic, something that you think will be interesting and hopefully not too difficult. You check it with your tutor who approves. Full of enthusiasm, you rush off to the library and check out as many books as you can find on the topic. This is the best part.

Stage 2. Reading. The first stage of your reading is generally good. You find out things you didn’t know before, you’re interested, you become convinced that your essay will be nothing short of magnificent. But then you start to notice the inconsistencies between different writers, you get overloaded on the terminology. Things start to get confusing. You grind to a halt and your enthusiasm shrivels and dies.

Stage 3. The first draft. Confused or not, you’re on a clock and so have to start writing. You write down everything you know. It makes sense but it’s not enough.

Stage 4. Revision. You start trawling through the books again, looking for anything that will help make your essay sound more convincing. At first you’re reluctant to include anything you don’t really understand, but as the time pressure grows, you start spewing more and more random quotes across your essay. You come to hate the topic and everything connected with it.

Stage 5. Time!!! As your deadline approaches, you realise you also have to plan a lesson based on your research. You shift your focus. You choose a topic and aim for your lesson. Your tutor approves but this time there’s no enthusiasm, only tiredness and the beginnings of panic.

Stage 6. Multi-tasking. Every time you look at your essay, you find things you want to add, or things you want to re-write. It’s still not good enough. WARNING – you will NEVER feel satisfied with your essay. This is the point at which you should stop writing, but of course you never do. Meanwhile your lesson plan is still very much under construction. You start doing mental calculations of how many hours sleep you’ll be able to get while still finishing on time. It’s a small number. You spend an evening quietly weeping over your computer.

Stage 7. The final hours. You wrench yourself away from the essay and focus on the lesson plan. The lesson itself doesn’t cause too many problems but the writing around it – class profiles, commentary, anticipated problems, etc. These will always take at least twice as long to write as you think they will. Sleeping, eating and showering become far off memories.

Stage 8. Deadline and assessment. Fuelled by nothing more than caffeine and adrenaline, you arrive at the school and hit the computer lab. If you’re lucky, all computers, printers and photocopiers you encounter will work perfectly. This never happens. You spend the morning sweating and cursing all technology. Finally, you hand in your essay. Two things simultaneously run through your head; you don’t want to hand it in, it still isn’t good enough, but you’re so relieved to get rid of it, you could cry. You need to get over this BEFORE handing it in, otherwise you could end up wrestling with your tutor. Then it’s off to the classroom. The teaching part of the assessment, which until now seemed almost insignificant, suddenly looms in front of you. You berate yourself for not giving it more time. You spend ages checking and double checking your materials, running through every possible scenario in your head. Students start to trickle in, your tutor sets up his laptop, and your time is up. From now on, it’s all up to fate. Whatever happens, happens.

Stage 9. Aftermath. After the lesson you have feedback with your tutor. By this point your adrenaline has gone and you realise how long it’s been since you slept properly. You can barely remember the lesson, never mind discuss it. Regardless of the outcome of this meeting, your urges are always the same – get drunk, sleep. You stumble home, possibly via the pub, collapse on your bed and pass out. However, as your body is now conditioned to run on no sleep, you invariably wake up in the middle of the night completely disoriented. This is the best time to write your ‘reflection and analysis.’ (Or avoid it by writing a blog post.) And don’t worry, the disorientation won’t last as tomorrow you get to begin the whole cycle again!


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