Teachers as learners: Take a look around you

A PLN starts at home.

Many people nowadays associate PLN ('Personal Learning Network') with the connections made online e.g. through blogging, Twitter and virtual conferences. However, we sometimes forget the most important people in our PLN - the people we work with every day! They know best of all the context we work in and they can be the most valuable source of advice and support.

Here are some ways I share and connect with my colleagues:

  • Staffroom chats - these can be the highlight of my working day. Many problems have been solved and many great lesson ideas have been born by chatting with the other teachers during free lessons.
  • Observation - we often think of observation as something to be feared as it's usually done by inspectors or senior teachers for evalution purposes. However, it can be a fun way to learn from another teacher. They can watch you, you can watch them and you can discuss everything afterwards.
  • Team-teaching - Why not do a lesson together? Planning and teaching with a partner is a great way to get to know each other as teachers!
  • Book sharing - There are lots of great books out there for language teachers covering everything from methodology and grammar to lesson ideas and teaching tips. If you've got a useful book, lend it to a colleague and borrow one from them if they have one. Exchanging books like this and discussing ideas you got from them is another fantastic way to develop.
  • Do an in-house workshop - I mentioned doing workshops and presentations in the previous post. If the idea of going to a large conference or joining a virtual one sounds daunting, why not get some practice closer to home? Offer to run a workshop at your school with your colleagues in attendance. Who better to share ideas with than someone who works in the same setting?

Hope you found these ideas useful. :)


Average: 5 (2 votes)

Submitted by CoffeeAddict on Tue, 02/08/2011 - 15:12


Your list sounds like our school's Teacher's Handbook :-) We have so called "sharing time" for your staffroom chats and a program we all have to follow that involves peer-observation, team teaching and in-house PD sessions. Are you sure you're not working at our sister school? Joke aside, I believe these are the signs of a well managed school. I hope you are a manager at yours!

:-) CoffeeAddict

Hi Coffee Addict,

Alas, many of these ideas are my own and things that I try to make work under my own initiative. I would love for my school to be more pro-active but I am not, in fact, the manager and the size of our English department makes it logistically difficult...

However, nothing will happen at all if we just sit and wait for it so it's good to have some ideas come from the ground up as it were, rather then being 'imposed' from the top.

Submitted by ElenaBolel on Tue, 02/08/2011 - 17:08


Hi Dave!

I have heard about team-teaching but never tried it. Have you? How do you decide on who does what?  What was kids’ reaction to having 2 teachers in class? How did change classroom dynamics? I am really curious to learn more about it!



I've tried team-teaching a couple of times: once with a teacher I share one of my classes with (she is the 'grammar' teacher, I am the 'skills' teacher). This was at the start of the year and we took turns to introduce ourselves and then asked the students about themselves.

Another time was with a new teacher who was observing classes to get experience. Rather than just have him sit and watch, we planned a lesson together and then taught it. I kind of took the lead but made sure he was involved in every stage.

The kids responded well. They seemed to pay more attention - perhaps becuase of the novelty or perhaps because they had to concentrate a little harder on two different voices. Who knows? :)

Research and insight

We have hundreds of case studies, research papers, publications and resource books written by researchers and experts in ELT from around the world. 

See our publications, research and insight

Sign up to our newsletters for teachers and teacher educators

We will process your data to send you our newsletter and updates based on your consent. You can unsubscribe at any time by clicking the "unsubscribe" link at the bottom of every email. Read our privacy policy for more information.