I mentioned in my bio that one of my interest areas is continuing professional development.

Hello everybody

In this blog entry I would like to look at this from the point of view of provision of in house meetings and workshop programmes.


When I worked in a large language school in Spain we would have regular inspection visits from our world organisation team. The visitor's brief was to check out all the different aspects of the school, including the satisfaction levels of the teachers around the area of in service training. An interesting and frequent result was that teachers felt they did not have enough opportunities to develop. From a management viewpoint this was strange as teachers were regularly observed and inhouse educational meetings were an obligatory component of the week. In addition there was a programme of regular workshops and an annual ELT conference open to all teachers inside and outside of the school: which almost none of the teachers attended. So there was more than enough supply for the demand, but there was a curious mismatch between supply and uptake. Perhaps what was supplied was not what teachers wanted, or their lives made it difficult to take advantage of what was available. In any case, it was an unsatisfactory situation for the teachers, as they made clear at inspection time, and a disappointing situation for managers, who worked hard to provide programmes which teachers did not attend.

I would love to hear your views on this and your experiences of in house training!

Jenny

Comments

HI Jenny,

I understand exactly what you mean and it is one of the strange phenomenon of teacher development.

I think everyone who has ever led a teacher development session for experienced teachers will probably agree (though perhaps not publicly) that teachers make very bad students!

I think teachers do genuinely want to develop, but perhaps each teachers experience is so particularly unique that putting them in group training sessions isn’t really the answer.

From my own experience I think the things that most developed my teaching were, attempting to train others (particularly preservice teachers). I think that also still holds true today. When I write about teaching or prepare training materials it really does force me to focus on and clarify many of the issues.

I think the other great source of development for me has been just hanging about in the staff room and asking for and listening to others give help and talk about what they do. Fostering that kind of sharing staff room environment I think is vital to the health of any school.

The final one for me is actually watching others teach. I have found this enormously beneficial, and not just the marvelous show teachers, but also being able to have some distance to watch what students do during  classes without actually being part of the class can be so informative.

So for me those would be the 3 key elements to a teacher development program.
1. Get teachers to develop others (through face 2 face or online though blogging etc.) and share what they know.
2. Build up that sharing staff room atmosphere
3. Get teachers watching other teachers’ classes either on video or live

All three also avoid trying to make teachers students. You still might get the same report saying they don’t have enough development, but who actually ever does?

Best
Nik Peachey | Learning Technology Consultant, Writer, Trainer
Teacher Development: http://nikpeachey.blogspot.com/
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[quote]So for me those would be the 3 key elements to a teacher development program.
1. Get teachers to develop others (through face 2 face or online though blogging etc.) and share what they know.
2. Build up that sharing staff room atmosphere
3. Get teachers watching other teachers’ classes either on video or live[/quote]

Thanks Nik for your comments. I agree with you that certain activities are likely to be more developmental for certain teachers, and that teachers will have different favourites, and I like your three. I found planning sessions for colleagues hugely developmental too.

This leads neatly into an article I am about to put up on the site which talks about CPD activities experienced teachers do.

When you and other readers read it you may like to decide which were the most popular activities for the experienced teachers I talked to..... more soon! Jenny

Hi Nik,

I couldn´t agree more with you... I was exposed to these 3 elements and they were all beneficial to my teaching development. Observing classes can be an enriching and very rewarding experience, indeed.

Another great source of development is share teaching. Having two teachers preparing the lesson together and then having one teaching it while the other one observes, can be quite beneficial for boht teachers.What is important in my opinion is to avoid teacher isolation! Sometimes we have such hectic schedule that we don´t even have time to chat with our mates, let alone share teaching ideas! So it is nice to create opportunities for teachers to interact!

Keeping a log on our teaching can also be great tool for self development.Having to write about what you did during the lesson can help you understand it better, I guess! What do you think?

Best wishes,

Monica

Dear Monica

thanks for your comments on teacher development. I agree with you that planning a lesson together and one teacher observing the other teacher teaching it is really useful. A follow on from that is : the second teacher then teaches a different class with the improved plan, observed by the first teacher and they both learn from the experience. Having things to look out for is important too as it focusses the observation. This works better if it is self-generated: draw up a list of things the teacher wants the observer to look out for. And in feedback, stick to the list rather than picking up on everything that comes up.

(Note for managers: you need to set up good lesson cover when this peer teaching and peer observing is going on! Try to delegate this cover though as you will soon get burnt out if you are the only means of cover. Whoever you delegate it to should see it as a learning experience too!)

Teaching logs are great too. Reading back over a term or a year's teaching really reminds you of what and how you have improved. But how many teachers are happy/have the time/are conscientious enough to keep a teaching log? Nowadays maybe a teaching Blog would be more motivating: unless the log is really honest and in that case possibly private!

Has anyone out there kept a teaching log for any length of time? What kinds of things did you learn? How did that help your development?

hope to hear from some of you soon!

Jenny

 

Hello again Jenny and others,

Lovely ideas again.Thanks. Peer evaluation for teachers sounds very good when the team spirit is good too.

I have kept teaching diaries for years but never showed them to anyone! Writing it down was enough to remind me  of what was good or a failure.I had written at times, "Boring! never do this again "!! or "Not at 2.00 in the afternoon (in India, when I taught remedial courses, pre-sessional  ones which  had to be held  in the hot summer months).

Now that I am guiding others all this helps.

I am now advising them to keep diaries or to keep track of their methods for the day when they become trainers of others.

I have retired but they are all young folk!!

Hello again Iris

lovely to read your comments! Your diaries must make very interesting reading and I'm sure you can see development over the years.

On some training courses I worked on part of the trainee teachers' self analysis took the form of reflections in their diaries. The teachers had to analyse what had happened and show that they had learnt from their teaching. But it was different because the diaries were not private. The reader was the trainer, who would write responses for the teachers also in the diaries. At the end of the course the assessor would also look through a selection of the diaries. The teachers could not take the diaries away but were allowed to photocopy them (what a lot of paper!) and the diaries themselves were stored in boxes for a year afterwards.

I always thought it was a bit of a strange system!

What do others think?

Jenny

Hi Jenny and Iris,

I was brought up seeing my dad writing on his personal log! I was always very curious to know what was written there but was never allowed! Well, I´ve never had the habit of having my own log till this year. I´ve just started 2009 with this itchy need to have one and I am enjoying this new experience! So I guess it won´t be difficult to make use of this same technique in the teaching field!I will try doing like Iris! This little experience of nearly two months made me see how nice it is to see your day from a distance with an objective view, without judging but just observing!!! Moreover, it made me feel fulfilled with that nice sensation that my time has been well used, even if problems had happened and conflict had occured something which is inevitable!! And it is also an excellent tool to activate your memory! Now I understand why probably my dad had such a good an healthy memory! Iris, I guess it must be fun browsing through all those past years of teaching! You certainly have a great source of research material in your hands! Well, as for the teaching log experience you mentioned Jenny, I do feel sorry for the tutor! Can you imagine what a load he put on his shoulders! It would have been much interesting in my view, if teachers in groups of 3 or 4 could read each ohter logs and discuss about them.Through the comments the lesson taught would be revealed. A cooperation system seems to be a more fruitful learning experience, in my opinion. Furthermore, there would be more sharing of ideas and an integration of more skills, rather than just writing and reading. Sharing your feelings about what you did can be a great therapeutic learning experience. So I would leave the privacy to the personal logs, the teaching ones in my opinion could be shared, even with teh students why not?

What do you say?

Love,

Monica

 

Hi again Monica

thanks for your comment! You say [quote]It would have been more interesting in my view, if teachers in groups of 3 or 4 could read each other's logs and discuss them. Through the comments the lesson taught would be revealed. A cooperation system seems to be a more fruitful learning experience, in my opinion.[/quote]

(I tidied up your version just a little bit, I hope you don't mind!)

This is really true, you do learn much more if you discuss each other's impressions of a lesson. This comment reminded me of a session in a teacher development conference I went to once given by Julian Edge, about one of his interest areas, co-operative development. He wrote a book about it: Continuing cooperative development: A discourse framework for individuals as colleagues and an article in the ELT Journal. This is the abstract of the article:  

[quote]Teachers who join teachers' groups are usually motivated by a desire for self-improvement. Co-operative Development offers an accessible but disciplined framework which teachers can use to draw on their own experience and understanding of their own situation. It is a style of interaction designed to allow two teachers to collaborate on furthering the ideas and plans of one of the pair. As such, it offers a practical way of working towards the widely accepted goal of autonomous development.[/quote]

so you can see that you are treading a path which has been trodden before - but in a slightly different way. Edge's idea is that the two teachers first work on the goals of one of them, and then later on the goals of the other. In your suggestion, Monica, the teachers would work together on everyone's goals: nice, indeed!

thanks again!

Jenny

 

Hi Jenny,

It is been such a rich experience talking to you!Your article gave food for thought and touched past memories! How interesting that you mentioned Julian Edge! I also attended a teacher self-development course in Blumenau , South of Brazil, in 1991, almost two decades ago, given by him about co-operation! Well the seeds of the spirit of co-operation started germinating at that time, at least for me! The book I have by Julian Edge is COOPERATIVE DEVELOPMENT, I guess the one you mentioned came out later considering the "Continuing" on the title! And by looking at its reference  I have   noticed that he delved into authors like Freire ( Pedagody of the oppressed) and Schon ( the Reflective Practitioner: How professional think in Action) to support his ideas.

From that experience on, I started becoming interested in this field! At one of  the language schools I worked for,here in Brazil, we used to have a systematic approach to share teaching! The novice teachers would do share teaching for a term, around 4 months, with the most experienced ones! The lesson was prepared together but the teaching at the beginning was done by the experienced one , then gradually,  the less experienced would take over till he/she would manage the whole lesson! That was a really great and rerwarding experience for both teachers! To make things work  properly there must be a lot of trust, sound communication and genuine cooperation between the pair! I was lucky to have had good partners... although I did not regard myself as that experienced I was playing the role of the "Knower" in the pair. All my "disciples" were great! I do have fond memories of them. There were two volunteers from England; Lois and Julian, who were natives but had no teaching experience and a Maria Helena, a novice  Brazilian teacher. In this sharing we made a point of not seeing our opinions and feelings as the most important ones! We made a point of not fighting for our opinions, instead we tried to focus and gather our energy on our aim which was to give the best lesson we could to our students! So the lesson and students were our main target! And because of this focus we managed to work like two people holding hands: each one had to strech his/her arm a bit so that the two hands to be held!

Later on I´d like to say more about my previous experience with co-operative learning/ teaching!

Best wishes,

Monica

PS Your "tied-ups" are always welcome!

The language school that I am working at has in house training and I found it very useful it is mandatory in house training, 

when I first came to work for them I found it to be very  useful BUT

the biggest problem that I encountered what that things were being repeated just in said and presented in a different way, and teachers that had less work experience lead these trainings... in the end they are very usefull but at them moment I found it more useful to go for my TESOL diploma then listen to the same games same stories and same thing over and over and over again

I do believe that we as teachers have to be as updated as possible but I also do know that most language schools mention on their web page that they have in house trainings just for show nothing else, becuase most language schools in Croatia have very bad policies towards teachers :( 

 

... I am typing fast sorry for any possible mistakes.......

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