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Bedtime Reading - for TEACHER TRAINERS this time...

  1. Tessa Woodward wrote a really good “Think-Piece” (in 2009) entitled Am I ready to be a teacher trainer? Tessa's advice will help you see if there is a "fit" between your ambitions and your abilities.

  2. Scott Thornbury offers some solid advice and gives over the letter “T” to teacher training on his excellent blog (go through his alphabet some time). His advice to roll your sleeves up, get your hands dirty, and gain confidence before taking the “leap” is some of the best I have seen. Then the hard work begins.... As both Scott and Tessa note there is no simple answer to the question. There is no "CELTA or DELTA in Teacher Training" (yet) – there is no one best way to become a teacher trainer. It is true that the core ability set of both a teacher and a teacher-trainer have a lot in common – but as a teacher-trainer you have got to take things to "the next level" (teachers are a “tough” crowd to please - trust me)! And, there is a lot of "noise" about what it takes to be a good teacher trainer - sadly much of this is from "non-teachers". I was one of the first "teachers" to be hired by a publishing company in Turkey (as long ago as as 1987) to be a "publishing house trainer"" and I am still offered a lot of "training gigs" (people actually say this to me). Usually the first thing the "sponsor" tells me is "they must have fun in your session - dance around, be crazy" or "you must give them a bag of tricks to take away". I've even heard people say "teachers are lazy and just want to be spoon-fed ready-made recipes to take into the class". I disagree (as I did in 1987)! Actually, I'm going to say something stronger - "crap" (I wanted to say something even more obscene - but Gamze will read this)! This is my blog.

That’s the job description! That is "service" - just like teaching!

And the best trainers fall into the second group! However, “finding your voice” means a lot more than those three simple words. “Inspiring others to find theirs” is a whole new ball-game for most teachers (ask the guys that come onto our “train-the trainer” programmes). The two elements of Covey’s 8th Habit rely on your “experience” (lots of it), your “creativity” (even more of it) and “your own ability to learn” (perhaps the most important of all). Teacher-training is really about who you are, what you know, what you stand for and how you share all of that and get others to share what they have to offer. The first three of these are the “voice”, the fourth is the “inspiration” side of things. Without knowing your voice, it’s difficult to inspire others. I know this might sound a bit like the “nature or nurture debate” when we discuss leadership – it is not. No-one is a “born” teacher trainer.

But you can learn how to be one! Just as we are starting to realise that “intelligence is learnable” (finally), we are starting to see that teacher training abilities can be learned - but require Disraeli’s “three pillars”. Headache approaching - get me an aspirin (or ten)!

  1. Watch a lot – go to as many training sessions as you can, check out as many conference papers as you can, get on the web and find other presenters (remember the TED videos). Learn!

  2. Reflect a lot – think about the sessions you go to and draw up a list. Think about the “best” training sessions you have been to – ask yourself: What worked? What mattered most? What did the presenter/facilitator “do” and how did that make you feel?DO IT! Also, think about the “worst” sessions you went to – ask yourself: How did I feel? What got in the way of my learning? What stopped my engagement? DON’T DO IT - EVER!

  3. Read a lot – to start things off take a look at Tony's TEACHER TRAINER Library

  4. Get your hands "dirty" a lot – as a wise woman once said “risk taking is inherently failure-prone - otherwise, it would be called sure-thing-taking”. You will learn more by doing “teacher-trainer-type” things and "failing" than by reading a book – and you will figure out how to make it happen, if you really want it! I’d love to hear some stories about how people became teacher trainers – or advice from those going through the process as we speak (you know who you are)!

Take care. My thanks to John Hughes who also has a super blog - Training ELTeachers - pop over and say "hi"!