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This is how our TEFL graduates feel they have gained from their course, and how they plan to put into action what they learned:
As a beginning teacher, it has never occurred to me to define my role as a curriculum developer – I had always seen myself as a curriculum implementer, separating curriculum from instruction (Phelps, 1990: 252). Of course, some of it may have to do with the organizations I have worked for. Even so, my approach to lesson planning has always been focused on the individual lessons as opposed to the entire course. One of the challenges to the approach of a curriculum developer involves understanding the needs of the students. Students come in all timbres of ability and character, and gathering useful information on each individual can seem daunting. Additionally, it can be discouraging to accept that as a teacher one may be unable to positively affect each student equally. Notwithstanding, gathering useful information can be accomplished in one session. And since the role of a teacher as a curriculum developer is a long-term strategy, the teacher is given more control to develop a playing field that allows for a gradual and strategic interaction between the weaker students and the stronger ones. Such strategic interaction can be made possible by designing individual lessons within the context of a curriculum so that all levels of students are adequately taken into consideration. Based on my experience, a curriculum implementer functions mainly as an information gatherer – gathering information in order to avoid embarrassing situations in the classroom. Perhaps this is what Sister Dorothy was hinting to – in the poem above – when she feels crowded by the characters she encounters that she is forced to drop her pen. Why does she seem to feel overwhelmed by Cleopatra and the likes? Could it be that her linear approach to teaching is unable to provide a web-like framework to structure information beneficial not only to her students, but herself? If so, perhaps a shift in focus could have afforded her the wherewithal to hold on to her pen. The role of a curriculum implementer seems less time consuming than that of a curriculum developer. Yet, understanding the interrelationship between curriculum and instruction places concerns such as learner objectives, anticipated problems (for students and teachers) and solutions, and interaction within a web-like framework that deepens attentiveness to teaching methods as related to the needs of the students. In the short-term, this may seem time consuming. But increased attentiveness has the benefit of better control and greater flexibility.