Thursday, December 23, 2010

Four things teachers really want from training

1. Exactly what should I do in the classroom?
Show me, make me go through it myself. Is it practicable, and will I be able to do it, given my abilities and the situation I'm working in? Unfortunately they often get something else…

2. Why should I do it? 
Will it make my life easier, or more interesting or will it lead to more learning than I generate at present? Will the gain be in proportion to increased effort I might put in? And if I seriously try to do it, hope the school inspectors or HMs will not feel I'm doing something I should not? And please, please don't change your mind in a year or two about what I should do and why… As you can guess the reasons teachers are given are usually more to do with theories, aims of education, policy requirements, and don't always sound convincing from teachers' point of view. Often the principles behind the recommended action are not shared at all, or the principles might be shared but without clarity on their practical (and practicable) manifestations.

3. How do I do it in my own way? 
What is done in the training is often generic and restricted to training. Teachers need to be able to translate it into very specific situations addressing the particular requirements of their own context. They need help in this, which is often not forthcoming.

4. How do I know if I'm doing it right? 
This is a fear that is especially valid in the initial phases. Just because it looks like what the trainer did in the training workshop, that does not necessarily make it 'right' – something may be missing, or the kind of adaptation required may not have been made. And if success is not seen initially, the desire to give up rather than experience failure is very high indeed? Teachers need clarity on what it means to 'do it right' and also hand-holding in the early part of their efforts to improve classroom processes. Here, the role of the CRCs and BRCs is very critical indeed. And we can easily see where some of the difficulties lie.

Training, or teacher professional development, is not done to teachers but is done with them. In fact, in real terms, they do it to themselves when they choose to implement something different, face the consequences and stick with it till they attain success.

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