I like to think that COVID-19 brought physical distancing to our world, but did not take our (ELT) social connectedness away. In the past weeks of lockdown I have been in touch with fellow teacher trainers/educators in different parts of the world. As you can imagine, these people are normally very busy running intensive courses for teachers, presenting at conferences, observing lessons, etc. The non-traveling months of spring (and summer?) 2020 ‘edited’ our plans, and one side effect of these changes was the time to talk and reflect about our beliefs and practices.
Having had some conversations with colleagues, I had an idea for a series of posts with a working title ‘Trainer Conversations‘. These conversations excite me, I feel I am learning from them, and perhaps it would be interesting for someone new in the training/education management role, or for someone who misses a chance to chat with other trainers.
The main motivator to actually get me started with these posts was/is the postponed course for teacher trainers in Ukraine. You can read more about the course here and here. The course was created in partnership with World Learning SIT (School for International Training) Graduate Institute and supported by the Public Affairs Section of the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine. The course was supposed to be my ‘central’ professional development project for 2019/20 school year, and I enjoyed preparing it with my colleague and fellow trainer Liliia Kurushyna. We worked hard for the project: prepared an outline, advertised the course, responded to candidates (115 applications for the 24 places), carried out rigorous selection process in collaboration with 2 more fellow trainers based abroad, had a group of 24 teachers who started preparing for the summer meeting, started planning our course session in detail having the audience needs in mind. Then on 12 March 2020 pandemic was declared, and… you know the story. The good news is that the course was not cancelled: it will now happen in the summer of 2021.
I see these coming ‘Trainer Conversations’ as a chance to keep myself in ‘trainer mindset’ by speaking/being in touch with the cool people working with ELT teachers.
At first, I imagined these conversations as very structured interviews, with questions asked and answered. Then, when I started these chats, I realized I can’t bring a neat framework to all of them, as each trainer I talk with is very unique. Two posts are currently in the making, and they are already very different.
I keep reaching out to fellow trainers who have a bit of time on their hands and a desire to talk about teacher training. [Note to readers: if you know someone you’d like to read about, please get in touch]
I start with the questions that I am (selfishly!) very interested about:
- Why do you like teaching?
- What are your (2-3) most important teaching beliefs? What shaped them?
- How did you become a trainer?
- What are your (2-3) most important (core) training beliefs? What shaped them?
- What kind of courses or sessions for teachers do you usually run?
- How do you keep your training skills up between the courses?
- How do you manage the stress(es) of managing an intensive course? What helps you stay sane?
- What question(s) about teacher training have you always wanted to ask other colleagues?
- What questions about teaching or training have you always wanted to be asked about?
[Note to readers: if you have specific questions to teacher trainers, add them in the comments]
I really like thinking about these ideas, and as I said, really enjoy talking to my colleagues. I don’t know how long these series would be, and how regularly I will be able to post them, but I hope it will be an interesting experience. I might also write my answers to those questions, as one of the colleagues suggested.
Thank you for reading, and stay tuned!