Connecting

by Zhenya

Some background:

If I was asked to find a title, or a name, or specify a theme for the professional activities I am engaged in this year, it would be Connecting. Partially, the idea came from Aziz Abu Sarah’s plenary talk at TESOL Convention 2016. Partially, I was inspired by Parag Khanna’s TED Talk. As a global strategist and futurist, he shared the idea and term of  Connectography used now instead of geography and reflecting the global tendency to create shared communities and projects.

I am working on connecting ELT professionals and organizations here in Ukraine. Ok, this sounds too ambitious and unrealistic. Let me try again: I am trying to put in touch the professionals in our field who, for one reason or another, feel isolated at the moment and are searching for groups, networks and communities to belong to. The levels or ‘layers’ of connections I am (gradually) creating are the following:

teachers: freelancing or working for a specific company (for example, IT-company teachers)

directors of studies/academic managers of small language centers (not belonging to any chains of schools and not having a pool of colleagues for help and questions, when needed)

language school directors/owners (this is a tricky group, because they are often doing the job of an academic manager, and teach classes!)

teacher trainers: again, freelancing or working for a specific center

[Note 1: I hope to write about the development, or a failure of these ideas in this blog!]

[Note 2: I am not doing all this alone – instead, I am lucky to have found like-minded people to connect to/with! :-)]

Barge on Dnipro the river

In this post, I would like to share some ideas about the last group: teacher trainers. On the one hand, it is a category of independent people (both socially and financially) who might not seek any group to be a member of. There are teacher training associations internationally, for example, IATEFL Teacher Development Special Interest Group, and membership there might be/feel enough. Maybe. On the other hand, there is little (or no?) trainer development once you get your training license. The biggest professional development discoveries often happen on a course we are working on, and sometimes these great learnings and highlights simply stay in our training journals, blogs (if they can make it this far), or conference presentations (the best scenario?).

In the light of the above, I have an idea for a Teacher Trainer Round Table session. It is a 60-90 minute session pencilled for early November in Kiev. The expected audience will be practicing teacher trainers working in Ukraine and internationally, newly licensed trainers and experienced teachers interested in or planning to become trainers.

The following is my brainstormed outline for the content of this session. At the end of it, I will share two questions to the readers, and will appreciate your honest feedback in the comments!

Teacher Trainer Round Table session

Dream: creating a training community in Ukraine

Session goal: ‘test waters’ and research the needs of trainers in my context

 

Why it might be great to create such a community:

  • Socialize and get to know colleagues (and potential project partners)
  • Explore/establish Professional Development opportunities for trainers/educators
  1. contextualize/adapt international ELT ideas to the culture in Ukraine
  2. adapt the approaches to various levels of language proficiency (especially state schools)
  3. exchange and accumulate training experiences
  4. help others become teacher trainers/supervisors/advisors/mentors at their workplaces
  5. further develop training, reflective and soft/people skills
  6. organize professional development events
  7. brainstorm possible projects in Ukraine (and abroad)
  8. …? your ideas?

What the community members could do:

  • reflect on their courses/experiences/participants in safe/friendly environment
  • develop skills to become trainers of trainers
  • share tips on becoming a freelance educational consultant
  • present on international conferences, [registering as a group might cut costs]
  • co-author courses
  • publish materials
  • promote learner-centered teaching culture
  • …? your ideas?

How this could be done (sample ways)

  • face-to-face meet ups
  • observing each other’s courses/sessions
  • co-presenting
  • online meetings: Skype, webinars, social media, etc.
  • (co-) blogging
  • …? your ideas?

My questions: Would you like to be a member of such a group? What questions would like to be answered before making the decision?

Thank you for reading! 🙂