Inspirational ELT #3 | Orlando's story

Orlando's Story
I first met Orlando Delgado Mata at a conference for CELTA and Delta tutors in Kiev and was really impressed by his energy and enthusiasm - people like this are always motivational, I think. He is the Director of Teacher Training and Development for International House (IH) Mexico and this week, I caught up with him to talk about how he became a teacher, a trainer, what he does now, how his centre has responded to COVID and going online and finally, his top tip for professional development. Want to see? You can watch the interview here.
Jo Gakonga
Transcript of Interview

How long have you been teaching? How did you get into it?

I don't know, I think I started teaching when I was fresh out of uni. So I took my initial teacher training course and then like it all started as a hobby really. And I think most of us maybe started teaching as a hobby, at least in my context. I remember back then people people started teaching because they have another profession and then you know started teaching because they just want to make money or save money. I mean, in my case it was because I wanted to save for my first car you see, so I was a college student and I was like, you know, I need a car to drive everywhere and I just really fell in love with the profession because as soon as I started working with people, you know, with people from different contexts, different ages, I just, I just really like being in contact with people and really feeling like I was helping them.

How did you become a teacher trainer?
My boss and my director of studies actually, they approached me and they said something- that I should consider moving forward to take a Delta course - a Delta diploma. Well, back then, Delta wasn't really available in my country- I don't think it was. I remember I couldn't take it in Mexico because there were so many complications around it. But they said, you know, wouldn't it be nice if you took Delta and then, wherever you go and end up taking your Delta course, then after Delta you come back and you start training, you start doing teacher training, and that sounded incredibly appealing to me.

So, how would you describe your job now?
I think it's like three things... it's three main roles, I think. So the first role, which is the one I have the longest experience in, is the academic role. Right. So I'm officially the director of teacher training operations. What that means is basically I have to coordinate and I have to plan, you know, every single course that we run. That's my first role and then I think the other two roles have to do with the managerial side of things. So, you know, one of those two has to do with marketing, communicating, you know, our course offering to the audience. Alongside that one is the strategic planning for the operations right?... So, where do we see ourselves betting like five years from now?

OK - so tell me you're going along in this role and what have you, and then suddenly, it's March last year, and everything changed. So what happened in March last year for you? How did that sort of pan out?
Yeah, well, I mean, I think in a way COVID-19 took everybody by surprise. I mean, it's not like, with the exception of Bill Gates maybe, it's not like anybody knew how to prepare for that, right? And what was actually going to happen, right? But by the way, I think we were already preparing for that - I'd been planning in my strategic planning role - I'd already been planning for how to take all of these different programs that we're offering online, or at least blended. So even before the start of the pandemic, we'd already been running a couple of courses in a blended fashion. So in a way, we were already planning for that. So when the pandemic started, it wasn't as shocking as it was for other people, right. I mean some, some, I think of the centers and other people and other companies around the world. And so in our case, it wasn't that challenging. It was still a challenge, but it wasn't as shocking as it could have been. I think we used it as an opportunity to reinvent ourselves. Like the meaning of crisis in Chinese and the fact that the Chinese word 'crisis' represents opportunity, right? And that's how we thought of the crisis... like it's not a crisis, it's a real opportunity to do better, you know, to change our products, to change our courses and to change pretty much everything that we're doing. And really, really, really do things better and take advantage of the situation, like really treat it as an opportunity. And I think we have. So you know, thinking about, obviously, the advantages of it being online and the fact that you can have candidates from all time zones, and they can, it can, be more flexible?

Do you see any other advantages of this fully online CELTA?
Well I mean like specifically for CELTA online, another thing that we're really pushing forward with our course, is the training in online technologies. I was very excited when the course went online, because I could actually put into practice many things I learned in my first Master's, because I got into educational technology myself quite some time ago. I don't know what your personal opinion on this might be Jo, but our opinion is... we all want to go to face to face teaching. We all want to go back to what it was like before .. you know, like, being back on planes and hugging and kissing each other and like being there, like around people and all that stuff, which is great. We'll want to go back to that. But we sincerely don't see a scenario, where 100% of the future teaching and learning would be done face to face. We just think that's impossible. It's impossible. And we don't really see any reason why 100% of the classes in any context should be face to face, because industries around the world have realized it's unnecessary. Things can work online, things can happen online, we are not like aviation, where you actually have to be on a plane face to face. No, I mean, you can actually do things online. So we're really giving, on our CELTA courses, we're really giving quite an important emphasis to that- to educational technology and how you can exploit educational technology, because we want to make sure that people, when they graduate from our courses, they know what the future is going to be, you know, and they can feel prepared for the future,

One last question - if I were a teacher - what would your advice be if I wanted to be in your shoes -if I wanted to move into teacher education management.
I always tell people they should be taking Delta. Again my own personal opinion, right?... like people can have different feelings, right? I really found when I took the Delta, I really found it to be a life changer. For me, right? I'm not saying it just has to be the case for everyone, but I would tell them the same, you know, like, take Delta because, I mean, for starters, you know, if you take Delta, that's because you're really thinking of making this a career. You wouldn't take Delta for a laugh, you know, it's something that I think nobody has ever done that! I always tell my trainees, you know, Delta is a kind of programme that you take and then... years down the line, you talk about it as being the best course that you've ever taken, but you wouldn't do it again. It's like, I did it once, done with that, enjoyed it - fascinating, you know, whatever, I wouldn't, I would never take it again, the whole thing. But it really is a life changer. It's a game changer. Right after my Delta, you know, many doors opened up to me... I got into training. For some time, I also got into corporate writing, and I helped a couple of publishing houses, you know, with some ideas for like, coursebooks and I found that really interesting. And... like my work now, I'm in a management position as well. So it's kind of, you know, also a qualification that will help you, if you want to get into management, because to manage people you need to know what they need to do and there isn't any other way to tell them what they need to do or help them do what they have to do, unless you know what you're talking about. Yourself. So yeah, I think that (DELTA) will be my number one. Number one. Yeah, exactly.

Well, thank thank you very much. It was really interesting to talk to you- that was great.

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