by Anna Hasper
It’s been a busy teacher training season and I can’t wait for my long-deserved holiday next month but being busy is probably a good thing! In particular, if you are like me, a freelance teacher & teacher trainer. My summer months are usually filled with CELTA tutoring and, comes September there’s a lot of publishers that need trainers to visit schools and provide new teachers with PD sessions on a variety of coursebook related topics.
This year summer was particularly busy as I was also doing Cambridge’s Train the Trainer online though LTTC. I know, it was my own choice… but to be honest this was just an opportunity too good to miss! I’ve been waiting to get on to this course for years now, but until recently it was not available online.
Even for me as an experienced CELTA & YL-ex tutor and teacher trainer it was a great learning experience, because PD opportunities in teacher training seem to be limited. Other than attending conferences and reading lots of teaching-related blogs & books as well as observing and being observed by other trainers… there is not much that prepares you to become a teacher trainer. Okay, for CELTA I had to sit in on a whole course, observe the tutors and then deliver my own session on which I received feedback. But once you are a captain on the ship, so to speak, there is little available to fine tune your skills. So, I’ve always felt that what I really wanted was a course specifically in teacher training. Maybe, just to get confirmation that I was doing the right thing but also to find out what other approaches there are. So, what have I taken away from these 8 weeks?
- A great model of online course design
If you have never done any online courses, really then this is the one to start with! The platform futurelearn provides is super easy to access and the variety of input methods and output is a pleasure. There are videos, quizzes, discussion forums etc. this also made me reflect on the online courses I’ve been developing and changes I can make to make them more user-friendly. The beauty of the online TOT is that you can access each module for a week and do the work when it suits you… and for there are not too many group tasks so it is still manageable for busy bees!
- Feedback Frameworks for observations
Of course, there are many different ways of conducting feedback after observations and one is not particularly better than the others but like in teaching is it key that you are aware of different models so you can best meet your trainee-teacher’s need and preferred style. It was good to see that others are following similar approaches and it’s was satisfying to finally see how my own approach sort of fitted within a common framework.
- Try something new!
We reviewed different types of input (16 types) and this is when you start to think and reflect -hopefully- on what you are inclined to use in your PD input sessions. It made me notice that I quite often use a few different input approaches, whereas others I do not tend to use at all. This motivated me to reflect on my reasons for ‘avoiding’ some of these input types and also to challenge myself to start experimenting with trying to incorporate a few new input types over the coming months!
- Sharing is really caring.
The best part of the course -at least for me- was the fact that there were lots of other experienced and less-experienced teacher trainers on the course which really added depth to the online discussions. For me, the sharing of ideas, the acceptance of different viewpoints and the willingness to be a ‘critical friend’ really made the course worthwhile as this is really where your own beliefs are questioned and reflection starts! Also, it’s a great opportunity to extend your training network and to build connections in order to start sharing and caring after the course finishes.
- My next step….
Towards the end of the course, we were encouraged to think about our next step, what sort of areas you might want to further explore and to put an action plan together. It was interesting to see what different participants came up with and to think about something that is useful as well as doable for my next step in development. So, I came away with a nice action plan for some future research. Now, I guess it is just about finding the time to put this into practice, like all the other ideas I’ve gathered during this highly enjoyable and well-designed course!
If you are still unsure if you should take the plunge, I can only…. say just do it! You won’t regret it, as there is always room for improvement even if you are already an experienced teacher trainer! Thanks again to Lexis and all my course buddies I’m inspired to continue to share, care, learn and train!
For more information regarding the Cambridge Train the Trainer online course go to http://www.lexistesoltraining.com/enrol/courses/cambridge-train-the-trainer/