I encourage all of our teachers to participate in their own Teacher Development (TD) – it’s an important part of their careers as educators to engage in continual reflection. It forms important spokes in the wheel of CPD (Continuing Professional Development). It refreshes teacher motivation and interest in their day-to-day job. It brings teaching skills up to date and so delivers a more quality product to our students. There’s a great blog which explains more about CPD from a fellow DOS – see here.
This article here describes the two ends of the scale where teachers can pitch themselves:
“I have always been disheartened to see how some teachers are happy to go on much as they always have done, doing a reasonable job but not developing to any great extent. Meanwhile, others strive to push their boundaries and actively create challenges for themselves, learning from their experiences and adding to their skills and their self knowledge, often in their own time”
I know which end of the scale I want our teachers to be at. In fact, if I were searching for a course somewhere, I would want the course facilitators to be those actively challenging themselves (but, then again, I am quite an annoying person to have on a course – all teachers are!) so I could be sure they were always one step ahead and teaching me something I couldn’t just get from my own research. Or Google. Or YouTube.
So, while TD must be initiated by the teachers themselves, must pique their interest, must ignite their own intrinsic motivation, what I am doing to provide our teachers with the opportunities to develop? How am I supporting them so they understand how much we value TD? How do I bring out the best in the teaching team to fulfill my own quest to give our students the best?
First of all, I have committed to an inductive style of teacher training (as in our General English syllabus – inductive teaching is important in our classrooms too). In respect of the wealth of experience we have on our team, teachers discuss new ideas and solutions to problems and then go out and try them out. The first step is as simple as that. Teacher led. After that, we come together as a team and I act only as facilitator, albeit it with the agenda of making sure the methods we come up with have an empirical basis – I’m the only one who has time to sit and read the research! We talk through what works, what doesn’t, and then come up with a plan which fits our school and students. Our aim is to give students a seamless and standardised experience, something they can rely upon as they more from class to class, but giving teachers the freedom to carry out our standards with their own flair. It appears to be working…
Second, because I want our teachers to pick and choose areas of development which interest them, and we have a range of teachers on the team, I have developed online teaching modules using Moodle. Each module covers a useful aspect of teaching (could be materials development, teaching vocabulary, promoting speaking skills, familiarisation with the CEFR, or I have written a very comprehensive module on IELTS – which we are experts in). The point is, teachers can decide which modules they are interested in, and take those. And do further research. All I ask is that teachers reflect on their TD in their blogs (also within Moodle). And put 5 bullet points together each month for the monthly teacher newsletter. They get credit for doing this in terms of the further opportunities we can offer them here, so it taps into extrinsic motivation as well. Though the most important point here is that it raises the standard of what goes on in our classroom. And what goes on in our classroom is what we are all about here.
But what about my own CPD? If I value all of the above, what am I doing myself to push my own boundaries and actively create challenges for myself? Well, that’s enough for a blog post of its own. Suffice to say, I enrolled on a Moodle course run by International House. And WOW! It is a challenge. I am definitely pushing my own boundaries here. Not least because being a DOS is a full time job, so doing this on top of that is a challenge in itself. But, as I participate in the modules, I am learning that CPD doesn’t take time away from your job. If you are following the right CPD path, the development you undertake becomes your job. It adds to your job, and helps you reflect, streamline and become more efficient (I have already learned where best to dedicate my time, and where best not to – invaluable). More on this next time…