DELTA Diary: LSA 4 - Am I glad that’s over!

For the first time in about four months I woke up last Saturday morning without having an LSA hanging over my shoulders. I feel at peace. That anxious pang of the final LSA lurking round the corner has disappeared. It’s time to start living again. I don’t want to put you off from doing a DELTA, far from it, it’s been an amazing experience, but be warned; it will take over your life!

Peace at last!
Photo by bitzi
Thinking back…
I started reading for this DELTA about a year ago. I remember having a chat with one of the trainers and being unsure whether I wanted to make the sacrifice. Having almost finished my book, I didn’t want to give up writing, I was enjoying blogging and not having any real stress in my life, but something inside told me to give it a go.

The TEFL industry in Spain is booming at the moment, but with the rest of the country suffering (20% unemployment) I wanted to make sure my job, and career, was protected. An email from my DOS in England helped with the final decision “If the shit hits the fan in Spain, then the DELTA will give you more security, you can get a job anywhere in the world after that.”

So the decision was made. I begrudgingly gave up writing, got stuck into the reading, and prepared myself for one of the hardest years of my life.

The Anxious Build up
It took about a month to get ready for LSA4. I think I spent more time on the last one that the previous three. I chose to do speaking, specifically helping my FCE students for Part 3 of the oral exam via improving their turn-taking skills. After I’d done the reading and got the first draft of the Background Assignment ready, it was time to think about the lesson. Our input sessions stopped so we had time to chat with the tutors about the lesson. This was great help and really useful.

At first I thought I could do a spontaneous recording of me and another teacher doing turn-taking, but it was harder than I thought. We ummed, and arred a lot and we both said stupid things that would have probably failed us in an exam. So I had to partly script the recording, which was fine but it took a while. Then I got stuck into preparing the lesson.

As the final date began to get closer, my nerves suffered. I found myself quite anxious during the week and at weekends I couldn’t relax. There was always something to do, whether it was making changes to the Background Assignment, altering my lesson plan, or redoing the materials. A week or so before I practised it with another FCE class and it was about 30 minutes too long. So after another weekend of panicking, more changes to my Background Assignment (including scans of all the published materials which I hadn’t done), I finally had everything ready the day before.

Best place to unwind in Sevilla
Photo by Malatesta87
I woke up the morning of the LSA4 with a dry throat (no I hadn’t drank any wine the night before) and a racing pulse. A year’s work would come down to an hour’s performance. After a light session at the gym to try and calm my nerves, and a walk down the river with my wife and dog, it was time for business.

Incidents before didn’t aid my nervy state. Students in my first class (bunch of energetic 8 year-olds) decided that they all wanted to jump out and scare me as I entered the class. Then I noticed my interactive white board pen didn’t work. “Who touched my stuff?” I asked, trying to remain calm. Everyone pointed to the guilty culprit. “I bumped into the board by mistake (in Spanish),” said a shaking boy. How would I do my final LSA without my interactive pen? Luckily, after resetting the computer, it worked. “You got lucky,” I said, raising my eyebrows to the trembling lad.

When I came out of my 3rd class our receptionist informed me that one of my students in my final class had called in sick. Perfect. That left 5 students, great for the pair work I had planned. After my boss called a few students to try to get the numbers up, I realised I’d have to make do with 5 (the minimum number). It didn’t matter, I told myself, and it didn't.

When the examiner turned up I began to relax. She was pretty cool and we had a quick chit chat which calmed me down. It was time to rock. The lesson went well, I think, at least I had time to do everything on my plan and the students were great. They used most of the language to do turn-taking and they interacted better than ever. I even had time at the end for some feedback and we ended on a positive note. The relief when the examiner said goodbye and shut the door behind her was bliss.

What’s next?
I’ve still got a few things to finish off for Module 2, but nothing major, I hope. Then it’s on to Module 3. I had originally thought about handing it in for June, but, to be honest, I can’t be arsed. I want my life back, without any stress about deadlines or having to hand something in on a specific date. I want to take it easy again. Enjoy my classes without any pressure and try out the million ideas that I’ve got from doing this DELTA. So I’m going to aim to hand it in for December. No sweat. 

That way I can get back to blogging and writing my novel again, something that has been put on hold for far too long.

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