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Selecting and adapting learning resources for teachers: Case studies
In the article Selecting and adapting learning resources for teachers: Ensuring relevance to context we suggested that to ensure you select learning resources that are relevant, you should take the following steps:
- Build a teacher profile
- Build an institutional profile
- Identify the learning needs of the teachers and institution
- Establish the expected outcome
Analysing the data you gather from following the steps outlined above will help you to identify potential learning resources. This article will examine two teacher education scenarios, and suggested learning resources for each.
Situation 1: A secondary English teacher who has never taught primary before is being asked to do so because of institutional policy. You have been asked to train them.
If there is an experienced colleague who is happy to be observed, watching them teach a primary class could really help this teacher to notice techniques on how to manage a class of children, and activities suitable for younger learners. They can discuss these issues with the teacher they are going to observe before and/or afterwards.
If peer observation isn’t possible, suggest they watch a DVD (if available) or online video of a primary class relevant to their context.
For both peer observation or classroom video, assigning a task can help to focus the teacher, particularly in a case like this where there might be a lot of new things for them to process. As they observe the class, they make notes. For example:
- How does the teacher get the children’s attention? How effective is this?
- What is the seating arrangement? How does it affect interaction in the class? Does the teacher change the seating? If so, how often and what impact does this have?
- How does the teacher present new language? How is this similar/different in an adult class?
- Can you identify any routines that the children are familiar with? Why do you think the teacher uses these routines?
Meet with the teacher after the observation to discuss their notes, what they have learnt and how they will apply it.
You could start by directing them to a primary teaching methodology book in the library, or online, such as this section of TeachingEnglish. Ask the teacher to make notes in a learning journal and set a time to meet with them to discuss what they have learnt and how they will apply it.
An online workshop on a specific area of need related to primary teaching could be useful, such as this paid workshop on how primary children learn. You could follow up in a similar way as when assigning reading.
You could assign an experienced primary teacher as a mentor, or take this role yourself. Mentoring could involve peer observation, planning and/or teaching a lesson together and meeting regularly to discuss action points.
These work well with a mentoring system by keeping a written record of agreed professional development plans with a timescale for each one, and which could involve some or all of the suggested resources above. You should revisit action plans every time you meet with the teacher and encourage them to record what they have done to address their learning need in the meantime. Agree together with the teacher a realistic number of action points each time and direct them to relevant resources they will use and follow up with them to gauge what they have learnt, how useful it was and what to do next. To facilitate this, you could:
A specific group for primary teachers e.g. on Facebook or Twitter or a MOOC such as this one could help if it is difficult for your to connect with others during work hours. An online community provides the opportunity to share questions, concerns and ideas with teachers outside their immediate context.
Situation 2: The management of a teaching institution ask you to deliver a workshop on pronunciation teaching techniques
Once you have established the needs and expectations of the teachers and institution you are working with, you can identify the aspects of pronunciation you will focus on to achieve your workshop aim.
Possible resources to prepare for the workshop
Do this to make sure you’re up to date with pronunciation techniques. You can find pronunciation methodology articles like this one on integrating pronunciation on TeachingEnglish, and specialist blogs like this one are full of information, tips and teaching ideas. You could also check out some teacher websites to discover what classroom resources are available for teachers, or do a search on Pinterest. You might find some useful content that you could use or adapt in your workshop, too.
Possible resources to use during the workshop
The content you select will need to be engaging, relevant to the teaching context, needs and outcomes and be culturally appropriate. You might present activities and ideas yourself, and/or select one or more of the resources below to vary the pace and focus of your workshop.
During the workshop, designate time for group work and create groups with a mixture of experience so that teachers can share concerns, ideas and teaching techniques. You could ask more experienced teachers to demonstrate their favourite pronunciation techniques or activities too.
You can download and show video clips relevant to your aims, such as this one which shows techniques for teaching individual sounds. Make sure you set a viewing task, to help teachers to focus on important points of the video. For example, you could ask them to note down the techniques they observe, and how the students respond to them. After teachers view the video, include time in your workshop for them to share observations, ideas and ask questions. If the video you find doesn’t quite suit your needs you should adapt it, for example by showing just part of a longer video.
Create your own resources
You can combine useful techniques and ideas from your research with your own specific examples and scenarios related to the teachers and their classrooms to create your own workshop activities. For example, if teachers need more knowledge about pronunciation features you could use information from a website like this article on connected speech to focus on problems that the learners your teachers work with often experience, and create a reading or matching activity or a quiz. You could also use the pronunciation activities that you found in your research in microteaching: divide teachers into groups and give each one an activity with instructions, which they have to prepare and demonstrate to the rest of the group. This is a good way for teachers to try out new activities and involve all participants. After the demonstrations, participants can discuss how they would adapt the activities to use with their own learners.
Possible resources to recommend for follow up after the workshop
As follow up to the workshop, you could recommend teachers do their own research in an area of interest, and take notes in a learning journal. You could direct them to online resources like the ones described in ‘preparing for the workshop’ or any relevant books or journal articles they might have access to in their institutions. Consider how to follow up on their research: set a date for participants to gather and share their findings and send a reminder before this meeting arrives.
This is a way for teachers to support each other to try new approaches and activities from the workshop with their students. and observe each other. The observer could make notes on the response and involvement of the students, and make suggestions during a post-observation discussion with the teacher.
To keep in touch as a group, share ideas and continue learning, you could create a social media group for participants, such as a closed Facebook or What’s App group.
How to organise teacher learning resources
Once you start working with teacher learning resources, it is a good idea to develop a system for storing and retrieving them. Below are some suggestions.
|Material||How to organise||Where to keep them|
|Books and journals||
By subject e.g. reference books (dictionaries and grammar books), methodology books (listening, reading, pronunciation, games, assessment etc.)
Shelves in a place that teachers can access
Consider a system to keep track of books e.g. teachers can borrow 2 books and must sign to say they have taken them
|Printed documents and training workshop materials||
By subject e.g. action plans, observation tasks, information
By subject e.g. induction, courses for new teachers, courses for experienced teachers By date
Keep documents teachers need in a place they can access them, and to ensure no one takes the last copy, mark each sheet with a highlighter pen
Use plastic wallets to keep worksheets neat, and laminate cut-outs (e.g. activities for training workshops) so that they last longer
|Useful websites, video and soft copies of documents||By subject, date||
In folders on your institutional computer system or your own laptop
On different walls or parts of a virtual corkboard such as Padlet (you could invite teachers to collaborate, and encourage them to add their favourite resources too as they find them)
In a bookmarking app such as Pinterest, Google Keep or One Note.
Whichever system you choose, keeping it organised and up-to-date will make it easier for you to access your learning resources when you need them, and add to them when you discover or create something new.
About the author
Claire Ross (@ClaireRossELT) researches and develops face-to-face and online training for English language teachers. She has developed the Teaching for Success suite of MOOCs and is a Lead Educator on the courses. She has been working in teacher education since 2005, mainly in the Middle East, training trainers and teachers. Her interests include pluralistic approaches, multilingualism and inclusion.