This is the first question in the long list I offered in my last blog entry.

I have met ‘teacher trainers’ who are called or who call themselves: teacher educators, inspectors, mentors, senior teachers, experts, academic directors, coaches, master teachers, supervisors, lead teachers, co-operating teachers and curriculum leaders! And many more that are even more exotic! ‘FIFO’ for example! Each name has a different connotation, I think. Some sound very academic, some sound helpful and others sound more authoritarian and judgmental. And, in turn, they each suggest different names for the teachers they work with. So a ‘mentor’ needs a ‘mentee’ and a ‘senior teacher’ needs a ‘junior teacher’, I suppose! In my job at college, I am called a Professional Development Co-ordinator. It’s a bit of a mouthful but is a title I can live with since it doesn’t suggest that I DO anything TO anybody!

Which of the labels do you prefer? Which works in your context? What implications are there to the one you have chosen or that you are stuck with?

And what do all these people, no matter what they are called, have in common?


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My answer to the question 'what constitutes good teaching?' is - interest. The process of learning and teaching should be interesting to both participants and a teacher. Being a teacher trainer does not mean you are isolated from your colleagues, but you seek for your own further professional development. I agree we all can be tutors or trainers. It is important to know who we are and how we are with others. While helping a new teacher we are learning, we get a new knowledge about ourselves. And this is development - personal and professional. So i would prefer to be called educator (not ofanybody but first of all of myself).

Hi Tessa and Natalia,First of all, there are so many terms for teacher trainer! However, I think that they all can be used with that meaning in slightly different contexts: for example, in Macedonia, the person you go to for advice and instructions on your M.A. thesis is called a mentor (which is why these terms according to me are not mutually interchangeable in every context). So everybody sticks to the use of this term. The same goes for the person you consult when writing your doctorate dissertation. It's the use in different contexts that makes the difference. Yet if we look at them in terms of a mind-map what they would all have in common, as the shared link in the middle, is the verb "help".Furthermore, in my opinion Natalia tells a well-known truth about teaching that I agree with: one must first explore their own self, then go on exploring the students' abilities. Best, Aneta

Your words made me think about the impact that a simple job label may have!  Once I was made a teacher trainer, I never felt at easy as well seeing myself responsible for "training" my peers! I remember one of my tasks was to observe my peers´ lessons and I remember  being amazed at how different and at the same time very talented they all were! So there was not such a thing of telling people how to do things, how to teach, we,  can simply enhance their talents and try to make them become a  better teacher by  helping them find the teaching style that best suits them. I do agree with you that the  word Professional Development Co-ordinator reflects more the role of such a worker who should create a nice atmosphere of sharing and caring rather than being the Mrs Know All. Probably a nice name would also be a teaching-learning cousellor.
Best wishes,

Dear Natalia,
Thanks for being the first to start answering some of the questions!
About good teaching ..and "interest". Yes, I totally agree with you! Without interest, teachers and students will both simply fade away! Was it Jeremy Harmer who used to have a lesson skeleton or instructional sequence with the acronym ESA? The first heading, the "E", was for "Engage" . I think he meant that no study or activation was possible without a prettty engaging or interesting start! Sounds right to me!
I like your term "Educator" ( of self most of all ) too! It is certainly true that we learn a tremendous amount about ourselves, our work and our profession when working with teachers , beginner or more experienced!
Thanks again for starting the ball rolliing!

Hello Aneta!
Thanks for writing in!
I like your idea of putting all the different names for teacher training jobs on a mind map and then considering what would go in the middle!
I think what I might put in the middle is the idea of "Core tasks". I mean that, no matter what we are all called in our different contexts, and no matter how many differing peripheral tasks we might each do, we probably all do have some core tasks. I am thinking of, for example, planning and running sessions for teachers, maybe helping with lesson planning, observing teachers at work and then giving feedback on the lesson seen. That sort of thing. 
By the way, on the issue of "Help" , we are reprinting a great article  called "Is help helpful?" in the Teacher Trainer journal in Volume 24 (2010) You might find it interesting so keep an eye out for it! It really made me think!
All the best for now!

Dear Monica, Hello! I had to smile when I read your account of being called a trainer and then realising that the peer observations you did were training you rather than the teachers you were watching. I have had the identical experience many times!! So, "Teaching learning counsellor" sounds good to me! All the best Tessa  

Dear TessaThank you very much for initiating discussion on the terms used in different contexts to refer to the trainer and the trainees. Here are my observations based on my experience in India:In addition to all the terms you (and others) have referred to, in India we also come across terms such as 'Resource Person', 'Method Master','Subject Expert', and so on, to refer to the trainer. I feel the context in which you work decides most of the things. In India the relationship between the teacher and the learner has mostly been quite formal and the relationship between the trainer and the trainees still more formal! Efforts are being made to bring in changes, but people are taking their own time to change!Let me share an example (which I once quoted in one of my blogs): A long time ago I was doing a PG Diploma at the Central Institute of English and Foreign Languages (now EFL-University) in Hyderabad, India. One day while I was going to the library, I happened to meet Raymond Tongue, one of my teachers. I greeted him with the words 'Good morning, Sir'. He looked at me, held my hand firmly and asked me in a stern voice ' Am I so  old?' I knew his jovial nature. I said 'No. You are not old!' He aksed me, 'Why did you call me Sir, then?' I said, 'Because you are my Sir.' Then he told me as to how the term 'Sir' is used in the UK. He asked me to address him as Mr Tongue.  I assured him that I would take a note and would address him not as 'Sir', but as' Mr Tongue Sir!" In his usual style he laughed at it.About twenty years later, I met his wife in the UK. In the meanwhile, Mr Tongue had died. When I shared this interesting experience with her, she said 'Harsh, that was a long time ago that it happened. Had he been alive today, he would have insisted on addressing him as 'Ray'.'Look at the change: 'Sir', 'Mr Tongue', 'Raymond' and 'Ray'!Coming back to my context, that is India, if Tessa Woodward ever comes to India to meet my teachers (and I have been waiting for the day with eagerness) I will have to introduce her to my teachers as 'Professor Dr Tessa Woodward madam'.  My context forces me to do this!Further, there is a difference between 'pre-service training' and 'in-service training' and, therefore, we find it difficult to use the same terms!Harsh   

Dear Harsh, How nice to meet you here! It is always a real pleasure to  be with you! Yes, you are right. Context is everything! So thanks for the three new terms: 'Resource Person', 'Method Master', and 'Subject Expert', which I will add to my growing list! As for my being called "'Professor Dr Tessa Woodward madam'....I can't think of anything more delightful But I wonder what my colleagues at college would say if I told them.  I think they would think it sounded MUCH too important!!! Thanks as ever for your good humoured and interesting posting All good wishes Tessa    

Respected Ma'am, In India it is not only in this teaching profession but anywhere we do not address anybody by their first name. Even when we browse and look for samples of covering letter in the American or UK samples the name of the person is there to whom you are addressing it but in India that is not acceptable. The culture here doesn't permit you to take anybody's first name if he or she is elder to you. You have to use the things that are relevant in your culture, country and context as Harsh said. Regards, Priyamvada

Respected Sir!
Also known as Priyamvada?
Thank you very much for teaching me that in India you absolutely cannot use the first name of a person who is older than you, especially in a covering letter. This is a very useful rule for me to know.
Many years ago, when I studied in India for a short time, a lot of people called our teacher Guru and sometimes Guru-ji. I was never sure what the "ji" meant.
If you have time, could you teach me that too?