cpd

30 tips for developing teachers

Some teachers have clear direction when it comes to development. Others, like me, have always been a little bit lost. I found that once I finished my initial teacher training there wasn’t much support or guidance when it came to improving my skills, subject knowledge or knowledge of the industry. There was the odd teacher training session or peer observation, plus the occasional chat with a colleague, but for the most part I just had to get on with things. So, I did.

Taking control of your own development is the best thing you can do. Moreover, it’s easier than you think – it just takes a bit of interest and a bit of drive. Here’s a list of ideas to get you started. They’re mostly aimed at teachers fresh off a CELTA looking for inspiration, but some will be useful whatever your experience.

Note: Sketch (ELTexperiences) wrote a couple of similar posts on this when we were working together, so click here and here to see his ideas.

Documenting your progress

It’s said that for development to be successful it needs to be documented. Try these things to help:

  1. Keep a teaching journal

Record your thoughts and reflections on lessons – things that went well, things that didn’t, things to improve on, useful things you’ve read, self-evaluation tasks you’ve tried, etc. It will be a good thing to look back on, and might help you gather your thoughts.

  1. Start a blog

A ‘web log’ – it can be like a journal/diary anyway. The difference is that other people can see it. You can get feedback from others, useful tips and ideas. I started this one on wordpress.com. It only took me 10 minutes to set up and it’s free. I’ve motivated my colleague to do the same so you can see one that’s just starting out here. Please comment and keep him reflecting 🙂

  1. Add teacher development aims to your plans

This is a practical tip for lesson evaluation. At the end of a lesson, write down two things that went well, and two you could have improved on. Our CELTA YLX tutor called these ‘Glows and Grows’. Try and work on the points to improve in the next lesson. Writing these down somewhere is a great way to evaluate your progress. If you’re me, it’s also a great way to notice how many times you’ve had to focus on GIVING BETTER INSTRUCTIONS! AAARGH! (note: had a formal obs yesterday – guess what came up?!).

A framework of reference

  1. British Council Continuing Professional Development Framework

It’s useful to have a bit of guidance when it comes to professional development. Download this free document from the British Council. It’s a CPD framework highlighting various stages of development and key professional practices. It might help you recognise the areas you need to focus on. (more…)

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Distance learning for teachers – is it right for you?

It’s a pleasure to introduce this guest post from Phil Wade. He shares some useful advice for teachers thinking of undertaking distance study.

I did my first TEFL course with i-to-i about 18 years ago and as a follow-up, I took a distance course. At that time, it was by mail so they sent me some books and tasks and I sent them back in a rather heavy envelope.

10 years later I started hearing about MOOCs and the Khan academy and looked into online TEFL MAs. It was tough as the idea of ‘distance study’ seemed to vary a lot between universities. There were some with residentials and others with weekend attendance but bolstered by ‘online modules’. This started changing so I jumped at the chance of taking what came to be called a ‘fully online course’. After that, I took the DELTA module 3 online, some LearnDash MOOCs, participated in the EVO sessions, completed 2 online coaching courses and recently started a fully online postgrad. I also moved to the other side of the screen, teaching online for a bit and tutoring the Cert iBET course.

I have learned a lot from studying online, and for a teacher who cannot relocate for a month or a year just to study it provides me access to the best of PD from my laptop. However, it does not suit everyone. Many classmates have fallen for one reason or another. The ‘motivation’ issue is not to be underestimated and the workload too. I’d like to share some questions you can ask yourself to see if distance study is for you. (more…)

Reflection on CELTA and Trinity TESOL Courses

In her latest guest post, Nicky Salmon talks about the importance of reflecting on your teaching practice.

A very important part of any pre- or in-service teacher training course, is REFLECTION.

On a CELTA or Trinity TESOL course this will mostly be reflecting ON your practice, which means you will look back at the lesson you have just taught to reflect on

-what went well or not so well,

-reasons for these,

-what you can use again or change for next time.

Your ability to reflect on your planning and teaching is an assessed part of the course but many people find the whole process very difficult.

It might be because you have never reflected formally before.

It might be because you just don’t know what to prioritise in your reflection.

It might be because you just don’t know what language to use as you reflect. (more…)

Writing for ELT magazines

I’ve been published in a few industry magazines over the past year. Some of you might like to do the same. If so, here are a few tips. I’m no expert, but you might find them useful.

What do you mean by ‘ELT magazines’?

I mean publications in the ELT industry. Specifically, I mean online and print magazines, newsletters, and journals that you could label as non-academic (as opposed to those based on formal, academic research). Some examples include…

English Teaching Professional, Modern English Teacher, International House Journal, IATEFL Voices, British Council Voices, etc.

I’ve suggested these are non-academic as they have a more general readership. That’s not to say they don’t cover or reference academic research, just that they differ from more academic publications like ELT Journal. (more…)

Tips for managing young learners

We set up a ‘Quality Circle’ here at the British Council Bangkok last term. Ours is basically like a reflective practice group set up for teachers, by teachers. We meet twice a term. Every 5 weeks we choose a topic to discuss. Me and my mentor Sarah put our heads together and devise a series of action research tasks on the topic. Other teachers complete the tasks (or just do their own task if they want), then we meet up and discuss our findings.

We had a great meeting the other day on classroom management. There was a 10 minute screencast from one teacher on classroom routines, some great tips from another on using gestures and expressions, and some lovely presentations on signposting and ensuring that learners have a ‘sense of progress’.

Our final short presentation was from Yvonne Leonard, and experienced teacher who works at one of our smaller centres here in Bangkok. She’d chosen a lovely collaborative task to get teachers at her centre involved in the group: (more…)

Course review: Dyslexia and foreign language teaching

I finished this FutureLearn course a few weeks ago. It was offered by Lancaster University, and was the second course I’ve done through them – the other one was an introduction to corpus linguistics.

The course was 4 weeks long. Here’s an overview of the content:

Week 1

The first activities this week explained what dyslexia is. It addressed some of the common misconceptions/basic facts about this learning difficulty and others, and covered some important terminology (like ‘specific learning differences’, ‘learning disorders’, etc). There were some interesting interviews with students who have dyslexia, and a task to help you experience what it’s like to have a specific learning difficulty.

The course then moved on to discuss the effect of dyslexia on language learning, and the nature of reading difficulties. Input was provided though brief video lectures from leading researchers. (more…)

5 great tips for new teachers

Here’s a fantastic guest post from Michael Walker, who currently teaches at a university in South Korea. He offers some great tips for teachers who are just starting out. Thanks Michael!

  1. Smile

    don't smile

    Don’t smile until Christmas?

There is an old piece of teaching advice which tells us. “Don’t smile until Christmas.” This is nonsense, a simple smile is contagious, we want our students to learn in a happy, friendly, and approachable environment, smiling helps deliver that type of environment. Creating a friendly, safe, and welcoming environment in the classroom is vital to educational success. If students are not comfortable they will not talk, if they stay silent their English will not improve. A friendly environment will lead to increased student-teacher contact, this is key to student motivation and learning. (more…)