Have you been following the web carnival organised by IATEFL’s Teacher Development SIG this year? The idea is to ‘stitch a tapestry of teacher development’ with live events, blog posts and tweets (hashtag: #tdsigcarnival) , and I love it. Here is my own contribution to support it – no curated resources today!
The story began 3 years ago, when I was writing an assignment for the IH Cert in ELT Management. I had to analyse the current professional development system where I work, and suggest improvements. The thing is, ‘where I work’ is extremely well developed in terms of systems and processes. (We have a centre-wide academic plan that informs each teacher’s yearly learning plan that is entered into an electronic portfolio by the teacher and their mentor and is discussed at certain checkpoints during the year and supported by observations, training sessions and… Well, as I said, it’s a very well-developed system.) It’s so robust that adding another component is simply not feasible. Hmm, we could do more peer obs. Or organise a teaching blog. Or work on the learning plan together… I think even the paper I used for my assignment notes groaned. No, no, who’s got the time for all that?!
At that point I was ready to fail my assignment. And then I remembered that it’s a management course after all. How about the division of labour? If I’d like people to work in teams, why should they all have the same roles and duties? This is how the idea for Team CPD formed, and this is how it works:
5-6 teachers choose the same topic to work on this year, e.g. error correction, listening subskills or Demand High.
They get together and choose their role on the team:
- Reader (who reads a lot of books and articles and reports to the team),
- Lesson planner (suggests lessons and activities to explore the topic),
- Statistician (designs surveys and other ways of getting feedback),
- Presenter (shares the results with other teachers or a wider audience)
- Leader (responsible for meetings and communication).
They meet several times a year and share the results of their work with each other.
What are the benefits? All of the participants do only part of the work: they don’t have to read so much because their Reader has done it for them; they don’t have to design the surveys from scratch because the Statistician has the surveys ready. They save their time (yay!), explore the topic in more detail (double yay!) and have fun collaborating (triple yay!).
Now, you may be wondering if my assignment has ever been used in real life. Actually, it has:
Year 1. Piloted it with 5 new teachers. Adjusted the process based on their feedback.
Year 2. Presented the idea to all teachers. Two voluntary teams formed and worked till the end of the year with very positive results. (I showed some of their feedback in my IATEFL talk in Glasgow!)
Year 3. One of the original participants is leading the project. Three teams have formed – and I have no idea what they are up to because it’s all self-organised now 🙂