I thought I’d kick off 2011 with a series of posts looking at teacher training from the point of view of a manager (DOS etc) of a language school/department. I spent five or six years in this role most of my thinking comes from that period. As always, feel free to add…
This first post takes the form of an introduction…
The benefits of offering in-house training
I suppose as a new teacher you might be forgiven for thinking that having got your first job as ‘ELT teacher’ you should be allowed to get on with it. And certainly, after your initial qualification there’s a lot to say for letting a new teacher get some classroom hours behind them and learn on the job.
Also, school managers can offer further training but this is often slotted in during unpaid hours on topics which – at various stages of teacher development – might seem to have no bearing on day-to-day life in the classroom.
So one of the manager’s first jobs is to ensure that this is not the prevailing view when offering in-house or in-service training to your teaching team. In retrospect when I first started, I just assumed everyone would be on board as far as having on-going staff training in the form of workshops and observations. However, I learned that not everyone necessarily shared my enthusiasm for such things. So there is a lot of selling of the idea that needs to go first. You need to make transparent the reasons and benefits for offering further staff development.
Two good reasons for training in ELT
From a management perspective, there are two essential reasons for in-house training:
1 Responding to change
The English language is a global language and the ELT industry is global. It is therefore more subject to the effects of global change than many other services. Equally, the needs and requirements of students (the customer) change due to demands from employment or new qualification requirements. Similarly the demands on teachers in the classroom change, most noticeably in recent years from technology.
Secondly, training can motivate your staff. Training says to staff ‘we care’ and shows an investment in the internal customer. To provide on-going training is to treat teachers as professionals with a desire to learn more about what they do and raise their level of consciousness beyond that of a technician.
Make training public
Having implied earlier that teachers want to be allowed to get on with teaching, it is the case – in my experience – that teachers are more likely to be complaining about the lack of on-going training rather than the fact that they are being required to attend training. It may seem strange that in a language school – an environment of learning – teachers find that less thought is necessarily given to their own learning. In Management in English Language Teaching the authors comment that:
‘English language teaching organizations are not alone in having often given little time and money to developing training and career opportunities…’
It is true that in any business or company, training is often regarded as a bit of luxury and the training budget is the first thing to be cut in times of economic difficulty. However, a growing organization is one that recognises that its staff must also ‘grow’. In addition to this, in many schools the opportunities for staff development do exist but it may be a problem of perception for the teacher who feels short-changed:
‘For management, the problem may lie in communicating the opportunities, motivating people to respond and ensuring that the knowledge learnt can be applied within the school’
(White et al Management in English Language Teaching Cambridge 1991 p61)
Making teachers aware of the possibilities can actually come via a clear procedure being implemented when setting up a programme. I’ll look at why and how we can do this in my next post.
Categories: Teacher Training