A couple of weeks ago, the seemingly popular topic of moving from Teacher (T) to Teacher Trainer (TT) was hotly discussed by the #ELTchatters. Entering into a New Year means reflecting on our future dreams or ambitions. This topic was proposed by Sharon Noseley (@shaznosel) as she felt she needed to reach out to her fellow chatters for their advice as on-line information offers courses and training but no real ‘concrete’ guidance.
Am I ready to be a TT ? What do I need in order to be a trainer? How can I judge if I’m ready?
So what did the experienced TTs have to offer the teachers who lurked and took in valuable advice that Wednesday night??
Qualifications & experience required
Most chatters referred to Marisa Constantinides very informative blog ‘Oh, To be a Teacher Trainer‘! This blog mentions a quote from H.G Widdowson (1984):
“teachers need to be trained in practical techniques, but also must be educated to see those techniques as exemplars of certain theoretical principles…”
These words changed Marisa’s focus on teacher education and added a new perception of what training and educating classroom teachers meant. Similar reflections were added by the #ELTchatters.
There was a mix of opinion regarding formal qualifications; some believed an MA was essential to give the TT in depth knowledge in order to take the step from teaching learners EFL to training teachers of those learners. Marisa_C & @SophiaMav said that there are universities that offer MAs with a Teacher Education focus e.g. The University of Warwick & The University of Manchester. @Marisa_C also added that one of the best courses for teacher development is Marjon’s in Plymouth, although this is not an MA. @Frances Eales shared the point that IH and BELL have courses for people with a wide variety of backgrounds and offer core skills and project work. Also, @evingiddens suggested World Learning/SIT Graduate Institute @SIT_TESOL_Cert offers a Teacher Trainer License.
MAs seemed a popular choice and @shaznosel informed the group that at the university she works for in the UK, she was told in order to get involved in TT at universities, a MA not just DELTA is required. @Marisa_C added that she prefers TTs with MAs because of the reading and the research this involves. So if you are considering this path, do remember that quite a few MA courses will also give you credit if you already hold the DELTA (@Shaunwilden).
@Shaunwilden said that there are so many different types of teacher training that there is not a one course fits all. It was clearly established by @elawassell that DELTA is a minimum for Cambridge if u want to be a CELTA trainer – but they also ask for TT experience., which should include some indication that you had done workshops, observed etc. @dalecoulter asked what do they consider as ‘concrete’ training experience? Which was confirmed by @Marisa_C as documented because too many teachers add the title “teacher trainer” next to their name without any real experience. There are also those who started TT a few years back (no offence intended!) that had not done any formal teacher training. @MarjorieRosenbe, for example, has been doing teacher training for the last 25 years but didn’t do formal training.
So how can teachers actually gain experience to apply for a TT position?
@Marisa_C suggested that doing a workshop at a conference does not make you a teacher trainer; however, presenting is a very good beginning and she advised us to get started!! @MarjorieRosenbe advised teachers to stay in the classroom as it helps in teacher training. @dalecoulter suggested that working as a director of studies at summer camps was a good way for him to gain experience, as they include seminars, observations and feedback (w/criteria).
It seems a course and experience go hand in hand as @OztrkOzge pointed out she started her MA after 2-year-teaching experience but courses made her wish that she had had more experience as the experienced teachers were much more successful.
@cuppa_coffee always thought that teacher ‘training’ was about techniques, methods and that “education” was about issues, context and evaluation. It was agreed that every situation is different and @seburnt summed it up by stating experience and qualifications are viewed differently in different contexts.
Skills required and reflections of experienced TTs
The chat naturally progressed to the WHAT and HOW teachers develop the skills needed to train. The ‘what’ consists of the content to be shared and the importance of keeping up to date with new methods or approaches, technology etc. The ‘ how’ is an ever-changing process, knowing what works and what to ignore and finding effective ways to process tasks and successfully deliver the core ideas to Ts . A number of issues were debated: How to plan teacher training courses? Observe lessons? Give feedback ? Resources? Locality? Culture? Time? Personality? Psychology?
@Shaunwilden asked the million dollar question: Can any teacher become a teacher trainer?
The ultimate response was NO!!
@Marisa_C made the point that TTs should have a wide and varied teaching experience plus the ability to develop trainee’s ideas, not their own, to which @eltknowledge added that in the beginning, it’s easier for a trainer to suggest their own ideas, but the skill is in helping trainees to develop their own.
@MarjorieRosenbe felt that qualities like understanding but setting limits would be a starting point for her; she also added that flexibility and openness are also at the top of the list. @dale coulter mentioned organisational abilities especially regarding the administration load and @DanielaArghir added that good organisational skills will help/let you concentrate on the actual training. @shaznosel believes you should be open to other Ts ideas and opinions and be able to “listen” to them. For @toulasklavou good TT should really love their job, learn from it and care about the trainees and for @Shaunwilden similar teacher skills are required for TT such as empathy, listening, understanding.
@kevingiddens added that mentoring and learning skills related to TT (positive regard/emotional intelligence) must be part of the process and @FrancesEales stated the need to to be able to deal with people tactfully but firmly. @Marisa_C also mentioned counselling skills, ability to analyse and support in a developmental rather than prescriptive way.
@Shaunwilden argued that lots of psychology is involved in TT, especially in the feedback stage and added that he found this a challenge when dealing with CELTA trainees for the first time. @shaznosel agreed that it must be difficult to tell someone their weaknesses and @FrancesEales added that you need to be emotionally and physically quite resilient to cope with people’s emotional stress. @Marisa_C totally agreed and added that she had trained a good number of drama queens !
Inspiration plays a role too…@Marisa_C mentioned the importance of being able to inspire one’s trainees and to have outstanding class teaching presentation skills. @shaznosel added to this point that an inspiring TT means inspired teachers which means inspired ss!
@Marisa_C and @cuppa_coffee discussed an interesting concept- the need to apply Knowle’s model of Andragogy. Here’s a link to help understand this theory http://www.lifecircles-inc.com/Learningtheories/knowls.html
@FrancesEales thought observation is the most challenging skill/art and is still learning how to do it better and ask for feedback from ‘trainees’. @Marisa_C added the importance of handling feedback that builds on trainee’s reflection and ability to improve rather than destroy. This led to a very important point, the teacher as a reflective practitioner
@cuppa_coffee argued that a good TT is a reflective practitioner, critical thinker, and coach and @DanielaArghir mentioned reflective Ts make good TTs to which @Marisa_C agreed; she added, however, that although more recent courses are good at producing reflecting teachers, this is not always the case. @rapple18 suggested that there’s a strong case for building on reflection as it seems to be more upfront in TT than class teaching. To which @Shaunwilden added “you’re right there is a helluva lot of reflection in TT”. @shaznosel finally said that if we were not reflective, nobody would be chatting on ELTchat, thus Ts who are motivated and passionate about teaching may want to move onto TT!
Advice and best practices
It seems obvious from the above comments that as a T considers Teacher Trainingas a career move, the T sets themselves apart from their fellow colleaguesand learners. This move depends on the culture and context of where the T works. so , back to the original question:
Are you ready to become a TT? How can you judge if you’re ready? Are you enjoying teaching? Are colleagues turning to you for advice ? Are you reading this summary? May be it is time to move on!
- Staying in the classroom helps in teacher training. Plus, it is important as well, to try out methods in the classroom before training teachers to do them. Also it is vital to establish rapport with participants in teacher training (@MarjorieRosenbe).
- Teacher trainers should not impose their ideas on trainees but help them develop their own (@Marisa_C & @elttknowledge).
- TTs need to be committed to continuous self-development, appreciate critical feedback and be able to act on it (@kevingiddens)
- Learn about the laws in certain countries, there are things forbidden in certain institutions (@natibrandi).
- Remember that you’re not dealing only with the language. Your trainees are not (only?) learners of language (@elawassell).
- Videotaping can be as a great tool for feedback and reflection (@natibrandi, Marisa_C, @seburnt, @shaznosel, @eltknowledge). However, according to @eltknowledge it might be difficult to get trainees to agree to be videoed. @Marisa_C also added that it can be time-consuming to watch on the spot and shared that she nowadays tends to videotape snippets which can be emailed or upload for trainees to watch.
After almost an hour of frantic tweeting and debate , some sound advice was begged for!
How can teachers get into teacher training? (@ shaznosel)
So you have all these qualities and qualifications, which doors do you knock and who’s willing to hear? (@Toulasklavou)
@Dalecoulter suggested that getting in contact with local teaching organisations and offering to do workshops can definitely help; for @Shaunwilden, getting involved in local events and being prepared to do some voluntary work would be a starting point to get experience. Finally @Marisa added that doing TT work for publishers can also be a great step to start a career in TT.
Teacher training is becoming a big industry with CELTA centres around the world training 12,000 candidates annually. But how can someone become a CELTA trainer?
@Marisa_C said that you can apply to be trained up as a CELTA trainer at any centre that accepts tutors in training but you need to pay for this; @Shaunwilder added that you also need to be a DELTA holder to become a CELTA trainer.
Clearly from our chat, TT is not to be taken lightly but can be rewarding and motivating..so if this chat sparked an interest in you as a teacher then follow the advice and go for it. As @Noreen said “You can set your heart on whatever you want, as long as you work hard”.
As usual, some great links were offered. At last! Especially for those of us who have searched mindlessly on the net!! Some links proved to be direct and invaluable in terms of guidance and others proved humorous and allowed the T to think about such a big decision in their career..
Note: This summary was produced in collaboration with the amazing Sharon Noseley and was my first #ELTchat summary ever. Dear Shaz, thank you for being so supportive and involved. I really loved working with you
About Sharon: Sharon has been teaching EFL to all levels and ages for the past seventeen years. She works in a Foreign Language School in Greece and starts her day with Pre-Juniors and ends it with the C2 or business classes.She teaches EAP at the De Montfort University in Leicester in the summer. She also enjoys working as an oral examiner for the Cambridge and ESB examination boards. Sharon has completed her Module 2 and 3 of DELTA and is currently working on Module 1…this has taken her four years!! Which proves you can study whilst working and bringing up a family but you may need more time! Teaching is her passion and she would love to move into TT in the future, to share that passion!!
About Sophia: I’m an EFL teacher currently teaching in a private Primary & Secondary school in Athens and studying for my MA in EdTech & TESOL with the University of Manchester. I mainly blog about English Language Teaching and Educational Technology as well as Education and Professional Development. I started blogging because I need to connect and share with other educators. There is so much we can learn from one another.