Training Team

by Zhenya

Background: I am a teacher trainer/trainer of trainers for an international TESOL program, and from time to time I deliver intensive course for teachers. This can happen in my native country, or abroad. It can be working with the colleagues I know (have met personally, or worked with before), or it can be a completely new team of trainers, all holding the same/similar qualifications and training as myself, but coming from different cultures and countries.

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The idea for this post originated from my e-mail communication with my future co-trainers on a course starting later this month. We are now in the process of planning our course, verifying schedules, exchanging materials, etc. I made sure there are no names mentioned in the text below — all the rest is authentic and real!

Hi there

Decided to start a new thread of our messages: seems like we will only get to see each other on the Sunday before a course and before e-mail will be our only source of communication (looks like we are very good at responding!)

In some training teams in my experience (especially in larger ones, like in Korea, where we had 48 participants and 4 trainers, for example) we would sit down with trainers and formulate our group norms. Yes, literally, wrote them down on the board. Some examples of such norms: come to a training meeting at a designated time, arrive 30 mins before a session begins, respond to each other’s course-related messages within 24 hours, etc. There were other training teams where this was not needed (or least, not in this explicit way). I am not sure I have ‘the best recipe’ for making teams work. I am still searching for a good one 🙂

Just thought that perhaps sharing a bit about ourselves and expressing our personal goals, expectations and concerns might serve as an ‘ice-breaker’ in a way, and a ‘lead in’ into our process of working together. This seems especially important if we want to experiment with grouping and run some sessions as one large group, and sometimes split the participants.

So… Sharing my (suggested) questions below. If we all agree to share, let’s do so in this thread. No pressure at all.

What training/teaching/learning beliefs do you feel form a ‘base’ or ‘foundation’ for you as a trainer/teacher?

What do you set as personal goals for this coming course?

What would you expect from yourself as a team member?

What would you need from the training team?

What questions would you like to ask?

Please note that this is something I have never done in the past (I mean, this explicit discussion in writing), and please feel free to let me know if this idea is silly/crazy, etc. If we do decide to try to exchange our answers before the course, I promise to send mine to you first 🙂

Your feedback is highly appreciated!

Zhenya

The immediate responses I received expressed appreciation for the idea, but the suggestion was to move the discussion till later, when we meet in person (note: it will happen one day before the course starts). Both of my co-trainers said they would keep thinking about these questions.

I started thinking about my own answers, too. I realize I feel ready for the course in terms of ‘what’ to do and think that our team might benefit from thinking of the ‘bigger picture’. Some of our questions and disagreements regarding ‘what‘ to do in the first two days/first week might come from the differences in our ‘why‘ – what we believe about training and teaching, etc. Seth Godin’s blog post called ‘Can we talk about the process first?’ prompted me to think in this direction, I guess.

So… my answers are below:

What training/teaching/learning beliefs** do you feel form a ‘base’ or ‘foundation’ for you as a trainer/teacher?

1) Experiential Learning (and Inductive Teaching) the use of one’s own experience as the basis of learning using a defined Experiential Learning Cycle model (wrote about it on this blog here, here and here, and this is a concept explicitly taught on the course). It is a process of creating knowledge from a direct experience and the transfer of what is learned from that experience to other situations. Simply put, experiential learning is learning through reflection on doing (and this leads to #2 below)

2) Reflective Practice: the ability, or habit, to reflect on the actions taken, concrete experiences we have had, as a means to learn from those experiences. It stands separately for me because several ‘reflection levels’ are needed: as a teacher modeling techniques and reflecting on them, and as a trainer reflecting on how helpful certain ideas are for the participants of the course.

3) Learner-centeredness: the practice of being present with the learners (participants) and thinking of their needs by promoting active and enjoyable learning both individually and in groups. It is a belief in learners, a positive regard for who they are as individuals, and having high expectations for them. As a trainer, I will do my best to be open to learning from the participants and working to connect the participants to the subject matter.

4) Learning-centeredness: the concept of objective based learning, real life applications, communicative and meaningful tasks, and contextualized learning. The learning-centered approach is founded on action-based objectives (for the training sessions, for the activities, for the course overall)

**a chance for a quick self-promo: these, and some more, are the main principles for the courses we offer at ptec

What do you set as personal goals for this coming course?

This time I would like to work on expanding the training activities repertoire I have, so that the input sessions I run get less repetitive and bring more variety to the participants. Being a big believer into modeling, or giving examples, I feel it is a good chance for me to challenge myself and try something new in class.

What would you expect from yourself as a team member?

Something I usually expect from myself: communicating and practicing positive regard — to the course participants and my co-trainers.

Something I would like to try this time: collecting feedback by asking specific questions about a session I ran, or a lesson I taught during the course. Where possible, acting on that feedback.

What would you need from the training team?

Structuring our daily/weekly planning time into productive meetings so that we could (a) feel prepared for the day and (b) have some time left for other projects/areas of life (such as family, sports, etc.) I am very bad at working at nights, but am an early riser, and my ideal schedule does not include any serious planning after 8 pm. Let’s see if this is possible during the coming course.

What questions would you like to ask?

Since this blog space feels safe for me, I thought I could share these thoughts with you, my readers. I would also like to ask your feedback about this post: do you think it is okay to share it with my co-trainers-to-be? How does/would reading this post feel? How might it help or hinder our training process? How do you get ready for meeting a new team of colleagues (especially on a course where you co-teach closely)?

Thank you for reading! 🙂