An Interview with Will Dickerson - Head of Teacher Training, New York City
Will Dickerson is the Head of Teacher Training in New York and has taught in four different countries so far thanks to his CELTA and Delta qualifications. He started off with no teaching experience but purely a passion to see the world, and has found the teaching qualifications to be the key to being abel to work and travel.
We interviewed Will to find out more:
Tell us about your background in teaching. Why did you initially decide to take the CELTA course?
I had just finished a season working in the French Alps and a friend recommended taking the CELTA and teaching EFL as a great way to keep travelling and having fantastic experiences in new cultures. He wasn’t wrong and I haven’t looked back since!
Did you have any teaching experience before taking the CELTA course?
I arrived on the CELTA course with absolutely no teaching experience. The first time I got up to teach was pretty nerve-wracking but the course gave me all the skills I needed to go forward. My tutors were also very helpful in helping me learn the skills to become an effective teacher. I would recommend the course even to people who say “I could never teach” as they might surprise themselves. The course is designed so you build up skills as you go along so you aren’t expected to be a complete teacher at the start of the course.
What doors are opened in the job world once you have the Delta qualification too?
Having the DELTA means you are more likely to be employed on a permanent basis and it enable you to command a higher wage. Without the DELTA, I wouldn’t have been able to become an Assistant Director of Studies or Teacher Trainer and subsequently would have found it more difficult to ultimately get to New York. It’s also important to keep learning and I discovered more about language and methodology while on the DELTA course.
Teacher Training in the USA.
You´ve had a lot of experience teaching in several different Teacher Training Centers. What makes the New York center different to the others?
One of the big selling points is the location – we’re on 5th Avenue with the Empire State Building next door and Macy’s around the corner! We also have some great facilities as our rooms have been recently refurbished. The mix of different cultures and nationalities of the trainees is something that stands out for me. On the last course we had people from as far afield as Egypt and Haiti.
Can you tell us about some of the facilities offered in the New York Teacher Training Center?
Our rooms have recently been refurbished with the latest interactive whiteboards. The rooms are also in their own corner of the building and are bright and spacious. There are also some computers trainees can use along with a printer and photocopier. We also have a café and library the trainees have access to.
There are other TEFL courses offered in the USA. Why do you think the CELTA course stands out among the others?
The CELTA is the most widely recognized course internationally so is especially useful if you want to travel abroad. It is becoming more widely recognized here in the US and the better schools now ask for it when they are recruiting. I also think the structure of the CELTA delivers the skills you need in the most logical way and has the right balance between methodology and language. The fact that the course is intensive means you are ready to teach after four weeks and are confident enough to do so.
Does the Teacher Training Center in New York assist in finding work once the candidates have successfully completed the CELTA course?
We always act as referees for our trainees and have experience of teaching all around the world. We can use this experience and the contacts we have retained to suggest the best path for our trainees when they finish. One of the sessions on the course is on ‘life after the course’ where our trainers can impart some of this advice. Some trainees even end up working here when they finish the CELTA.
The Cambridge CELTA and Delta Qualifications and Careers.
You've taught in four different countries so far. How much do you think the CELTA qualification helped you in being able to do this?
I wouldn’t have been able to without it! At the very least, I wouldn’t have been able to work for the better language schools as I did. The CELTA also gave me the actual confidence to be able to go abroad and the school I worked at help put me in touch with my first teaching position.
How long did it take you to get the job in Poland after completing your CELTA course in Newcastle?
I had a job interview the week after the course and was offered a choice of jobs on the spot. I had to decide between the Ukraine, Mongolia or Poland. I chose Poland but part of me wishes I’d chosen Mongolia for the experience! I left for Poland about a week after that. It all happened before the ink was dry on my certificate.
You mentioned that you taught teenagers for a summer in Southampton, and also worked in a Secondary School for a while. Did the CELTA course prepare you for teaching younger learners as well as adults, which it is primarily focused on?
The skills I learnt on the CELTA were transferable to teaching in both those contexts, especially classroom management skills. The interactive, student-centered nature of the course also helped as did using visual and being encouraged to think creatively about how to deliver lessons. There were some things I had to learn on the job or through more experienced colleagues but this is all part of teaching.
The CELTA course introduces different techniques and teaching methodologies. Why do you think it´s necessary to have a variety of techniques and how do you think the CELTA course changes people´s outlook on teaching?
If you have different techniques and methodologies you can adapt to different teaching contexts, of which there are many. The approach to teaching on the CELTA course is different to that which most people are used to and can be quite eye-opening. I have taught headteachers and teachers with four decades of experience who found the experience as rewarding and interesting as someone who comes to the course with little or no experience.
Thanks a lot for your feedback Will! We´re sure you´ll be of great inspiration to others considering the CELTA or DELTA course.