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TEFL Teacher Development

Benefits and techniques of teacher training and development
By Lucy Pollard

This article will deal with issues of training. We will look at the benefits of training for the organisation and the individual, issues to be taken into account before starting a training programme and different ways of developing staff. The article promotes a pro-active approach whereby training is used to enhance a school’s services, motivate staff and address staff problems.

The advantages of investing in training could be considered as self-evident but I think it’s worth outlining them briefly. The benefits are twofold: to members of staff and to the school or organisation.

Benefits to the organisation include:

The benefits to individuals include:

Having outlined the benefits of training, we will look at issues to consider before starting up a training programme. Issues for the organisation to consider include: commitment in terms of money and absent teachers. Firstly, it is important to consider the budget available. Look at the benefits that will be gained, by whom and by how many people and then study this along with the cost of training before committing yourself to any training programme. External courses are often seen as the best solution, but they are not always the best answer and they can be costly too. The school also needs to think about costs in terms of how long teachers will be absent (if this is the case) and how to deal with classes of the absent teacher. Will someone else teach them or will the classes be postponed and the teacher deal with them later? To counter the budget problem, we will look at training that doesn’t involve costly external courses below.

With any investment of money and time in training, it’s important to ensure that a maximum number of staff gain maximum benefit. One way is to implement a cascading system whereby teachers returning from training share their newly-acquired knowledge with colleagues by giving a training session or by informal sharing of ideas and materials. By using this method, more people benefit from the training activity. Whichever method you use to share the knowledge, decide this beforehand. It should also be stressed to any member of staff who attends a training event what is expected of them upon their return.

After training, the organisation must make every effort to provide teachers with opportunities to use their newly acquired skills and knowledge. If not, it is not a good use of your budget. Furthermore if skills are not put into practice, staff could lose these skills and even begin to question the benefits of training.

Also, bear in mind that multi-skilled, better trained staff will expect more flexibility and mobility in the organisation. You can consider extending the types of courses taught by the teacher or extend the types of courses you offer to the public. Also, think about providing rewards; e.g. extra responsibilities, time off work to attend training or a pay rise if qualifications are obtained.

For individuals, one issue to consider before attending a training event is that commitment is required that can go beyond regular working hours e.g. time for reading, planning lessons, travelling to the place of training... If management decide to implement a cascading system, teachers will also need time to converse with colleagues after the input session.

Planning a Training Programme

Before planning any training programme, it’s a good idea to carry out an audit or needs analysis of your staff’s current skills, knowledge and aspirations.

Choosing Participants

Choose the participants carefully. Some ideal characteristics of individuals for training include: openness, willingness to change; previous positive experience of training.

Training

It’s useful here to take a look at some forms of training and development that can be carried out without requiring an external training programme. Some methods include:

Trainers

Who gives the training? It is important that the person has knowledge of the subject matter, credibility and good interpersonal skills. Being a facilitator is considered by many to be more important than being an instructor.

Evaluation

After the training event, it’s essential to carry out some form of evaluation. Areas to look at include: What was the participant’s contribution? Did they learn what they expected or hoped to learn? Has performance in the classroom improved? To what extent? How effective were the trainers? Were the objectives and design of the training programme appropriate?


© Lucy Pollard 2007
Lucy Pollard has worked as a teacher, teacher trainer and Director of Studies for over 15 years. Her teaching experience is very varied: adults, English for specific purposes and English for academic purposes, as well as teenagers and young children. She has worked with multi-lingual classes in the UK and in various European countries. Lucy is available for teacher training and staff training in Western Europe, and further afield. Please contact lucy@tefl.net if you are interested.