If you've decided that teacher training is for you, this unit from ETpedia Teacher Training will help you to get the most out of your new role and really enjoy it. Here are ten tips for new (and perhaps not-so-new) trainers.
1. Model good practice.
The way you train your teachers will be seen as a model and will be emulated in the classroom, especially by new teachers. This means that you should demonstrate good practice at all times to give your teachers ideas and suggestions they can use in their own classrooms.
2. Make sure you are familiar with the course
You need to be explicitly aware of the aims and learning outcomes of the course you are working on. This will help you guide the course participants towards getting the most from the course. If you are delivering a formal teacher-training qualification, make sure you are familiar with the course requirements, syllabus and assessment criteria – and that you know where to find this essential information easily. If, on the other hand, you are delivering a series of in-house workshops to a group of experienced teachers, consider what areas of teaching you want to help them to develop and why. For more on planning courses, see Units 4 and 5.
3. Familiarise yourself with core texts
If course participants are going to be required to read a number of set texts, you will also need to read them to get an overview of their contents. This will enable you to not only guide the trainees to further information, but also ensure that you are aware of what they are reading and perhaps why they do or say certain things. For entry-level courses, remember to exploit any key texts the trainees have been asked to buy pre-, during- or post-input session. With in-service teachers, refer them to relevant, up-to-date literature and encourage them to make links between theory and practice.
4. Brush up your knowledge of methodology and language
Know your subject. If you’re working with pre-service trainees, go back to basics and remind yourself of what you didn’t know when you started out, such as subject-specific terminology, how to present boardwork clearly, how to give effective instructions, grading language, and so on. Make sure your language awareness is up to scratch and that you are familiar with key approaches, procedures and techniques. Keep abreast of the latest developments in the field. Just like when you’re teaching learners of English, consider how you can convey your knowledge to your trainees in a way that will be accessible and meaningful to them.
5. Get support and advice from other trainers
No matter what kind of course you are working on, always try to get tips from other trainers who have worked on this type of course before. You will probably have some suggestions that you could share with them, too. Create a bank of resources to allow you to share ideas on this and future courses. Another way to get support is to observe more experienced colleagues delivering an input session or giving feedback. Remember: experience and sharing count for a lot, so make sure you tap into this rich source.
6. Gain as much experience as possible
Just as it can be possible for teachers to get stuck in a rut, a trainer who is repeatedly training teachers in one context and on one course can also fail to develop or see the bigger picture. Therefore, if possible, try to train on a variety courses and in different contexts. If you get the opportunity, work at different schools, deliver different course types (e.g. both pre-service and in-service) and experiment with different modes of delivery (e.g. full-time and part-time; face-to-face, purely online and blended). This will allow you gain a wealth of varied experience and find out how things are done elsewhere.
7. Keep teaching
In an ideal world, even the most experienced teacher educators would teach as often as they can. Unfortunately, this is not always possible due to the demands of the role; there are many teacher trainers who, upon taking on the position, rarely, if at all, teach learners any more. However, if at all possible, try to continue teaching. This will give you credibility in your role, ensure you put into practice what you preach and help you to empathise when advising and supporting teachers.
There are several online forums and groups aimed at teacher trainers; joining one or more of these is a great way to develop professionally and to get to know other like-minded people in the field. Develop an online presence by being active in forums and setting up a blog. This ensures you are aware of and able to discuss any topical issues and situations that may arise. Consider attending conferences where you will be able to meet other teacher educators, giving you an opportunity to share ideas and raise your profile.
9. Continue your own professional development
Just as your own professional development is key to a successful teaching career, the same is true once you are working as a teacher of teachers. Make the most of continuing professional development opportunities that come your way, both formal and informal. For more on continuing professional development, see Section 8.
10. Remember what it’s like to be a trainee teacher
It is really important to remember your own route into teaching. How did you cope with this? Did you find it easy? Was it a challenge? It might be some time since you completed your initial teacher training qualification, and you may have forgotten what it is like to be a completely new and inexperienced teacher. Similarly, you may not have undertaken any formal teacher education courses for a while. Take a step back and empathise with your trainees. Remember what it was like to be overwhelmed with new ideas and information. By putting yourself in the shoes of your trainees, you will be able to better relate to the stress, pressure and, possibly, resistance to change that some of them may be feeling.
Note: This article is taken from a pre-publication version of ETpedia Teacher Training, and content may differ slightly from the published text.
ETpedia Teacher Training by Beth Melia-Leigh and Nicholas Northall is published by Pavilion ELT in February 2020. Find out more and order your copy here.