What is a Regional DELTA Tutor?
Bell is one of various providers of the online Cambridge Delta, and have their own way of supporting candidates which is similar to other providers but with slightly different roles and titles. During Delta Module Two*, someone taking their Delta through Bell will be supported by two people. The main person candidates interact with will be a Regional Delta Tutor (RDT- sometimes called Local Delta Tutor) who observes and grades their lessons, helps them with writing and planning, and meets up with them to do those things and go through post-lesson reflection. Candidates will also have an Online Delta Tutor, who double checks all the feedback and marks given by the RDT and can also be emailed directly for advice etc.
Becoming an RDT
The very first part of the process is that you have to be nominated by someone who is going to be taking Delta Module Two through Bell to be their RDT. This means that if you want to be an RDT for the first time, you need to advertise to people locally (probably very locally, often meaning in the same school) that you are available, qualified and interested. The candidate who is nominating you then has to fill in a form (provided by Bell), on which you then fill in your relevant qualifications and experience, before sending it on to Bell. The main things you need to show are a Delta-level qualification (or above) and substantial teacher training experience. The Bell information linked to below says that you have to be Delta tutor, but in reality I think that is fairly rare. You don’t have to be a CELTA trainer to be a Delta RDT, and it might be possible to have the right experience through doing workshops and observations as a manager rather than as a full-time trainer.
Bell will then look at your application and decide if you are suitable. If you are not, there will be a mad scramble to find someone to be that candidate’s RDT before Module Two starts. Although Bell will help with this, it is the candidate’s responsibility and there is a small chance that nominating someone unsuitable will lead to a candidate having to delay taking Module Two. This being the case, please do not apply on the off chance, but instead make sure that you are considerably over-qualified before volunteering your services!
If you are accepted, you will need to complete an online course (through the Bell Moodle) on being an RDT. Although none of the work was checked when I did the course, it was a useful way of learning the mass of information on Module Two that the candidate might ask you about. It was also good for knowing your way around the admin systems and paperwork, and for reflecting a little on the Delta and teacher training in general. The most substantial piece of work is the 2500-word essay on issues that you think exist in how Delta Module Two is run. It was a bit disappointing not to get any feedback on this at all, but I did manage to change mine into this article to make it seem more worthwhile. You are supposed to finish this approximately 50-hour course before Module Two starts – and that will certainly help with the time management issues mentioned below – but it might be possible to finish it while Module Two is going on. You might also want to set up a way of exchanging ideas with other RDTs in your school/ area.
Being a Bell RDT
The vast majority of RDTs only work with one candidate, as a supplement to their normal full-time jobs. When I was an RDT a few months ago, Bell paid well under a thousand pounds for what they estimated as 24 hours of work over three months. It depends on the pay rates where you are and the level of the pound, but that was already under my overtime teacher training rate. As a first time RDT, I actually found that it took a lot more time than that. As a complete guess, I’d say more like sixty hours. You could also add some of the online RDT training to that if training is usually paid in your school…
The most time consuming part of the job for me was grading the observed lessons and written work, and filling in the relevant forms. The next biggest chunk of my time was reading through first drafts and giving written feedback, especially as that also has to refer to the marking codes. It would probably take a lot less time once you got used to it, if you were used to Cambridge ESOL paperwork already, or if you had a candidate who very clearly had a particular grade. I also probably could have done those things more quickly the first time I tried, waiting for the Online Delta Tutor’s feedback before polishing them up and letting the candidate see them. However, ODTs often had several RDTs (and so several candidates) to deal with, plus no doubt their own full-time jobs. This meant that the work I had to put in was often also under tight deadlines so that there was time for the ODT to get back to me, second drafts to be written, etc- all before the next scheduled observed lesson. This did mean, however, that there were one-week stretches when I basically had nothing to do. This would be even more true if you were a regular RDT, as Module Two only runs two or three times a year, I believe.
On the plus side, it looked great on my CV and could well be the deciding factor when applying for a job in a school where there is a shortage of RDTs for candidates working there. It may also lead on to other things through Bell, e.g. being an ODT. It also pushed me to think more about teaching, teacher training, and the Delta in particular, and was generally pretty interesting – bar the paperwork! Although there were times when I swore I’d never do it again (and my wife made me promise not to do so), I would almost certainly do it again the next chance I got. However, if you have other similar time pressures, e.g. MA essays with strict deadlines, I think it would be difficult to fit in with your life. You might also want to consider the rate of pay and the amount of paperwork (face to face timewith the candidate , including observations, probably only being six of those thirty or more hours).
– See page 13 and 14 for the relevant bits
*Delta Module Two- the observed lessons with associated essays etc, plus the experimental lesson and a professional development assignment, Module One being the exam and Module Three the extended assignment. A fuller Delta jargon guide that I’ve written should be published fairly soon- will give a link here when it is.