I was talking to a few teachers during a conference coffee break on Saturday, and they shared how unrealistic many of the things they’d heard are. Yes, there are too many ideas and so little time to put them into practice, and sometimes the students are not as ideal as we would like them to be – and yet I feel that it’s worth making an effort and trying out at least something new. I saved this cool link some time ago, and I think it’s the perfect time to share: it’s advice from conference experts (in a totally un-ELT field, which makes it even more interesting) about how to plan your work and thinking process after an event. There are quite a lot of approaches to choose from: create a special template, write about the best ideas, rewrite and teach, ‘pick one for one’, analyse the ‘wow, hmmm, meh’ – some excellent tips there! Hopefully, this will help with conference hangover 🙂
Here is a bit of consolation for trainers and teachers who sometimes feel a bit overwhelmed about collecting data they have collected to inform the course. The post is about e-learning, but can be easily applied to face-to-face as well.Perhaps a simpler pilot or a proof of concept would suffice, or even – God forbid – no needs analysis. I really like the idea of meeting the course participants and finding out about their needs informally, as well as building smaller-scale pilots first. What do you think, is it a dangerous idea, or it makes sense? 🙂
Here’s another great post by Tom Sherrington about how participants tend to put up defences in the training room. Instead of thinking how their teaching practice could be improved even further, some people decide it’s just common sense and what they’ve been doing anyway – even though it’s probably not consistent or deep enough. Guilty as charged! I do this sometimes as well, and I know it takes a lot of effort and courage to admit there’s always room for development and growth, especially after so many years of teaching…
I’ve been thinking a lot about soft and professional skills: what they mean for people and what classification to use. Here is an article to read about it, with examples of soft/professional/workplace skills and hard/core skills. For example, coding and other computer skills are hard skills, and it’s all clear enough. Communication and teamwork are examples of soft skills (another great article, with quotes from experts) which are very important for the workplace. And then there’s a bit of confusion: if you need to manage your team or communicate with a prospective buyer, you can’t just rely on hard skills to do your job, can you? So, I’m still looking for a perfect classification 🙂
Here is a very interesting introduction into a point-based online system for the professional development of teachers within one school. John Meehan describes how the the online website is organised into several PD tracks and each teacher is free to select ‘courses’ (which are more like tasks – e.g. read an educational book or try out a new activity) and earn a certain number of credits for them. There is a set number you need to collect during the academic year, and here’s the most interesting part: to get the credit, you don’t only have to submit a ‘deliverable’, or evidence of having done it, but also write a reflective blog post about it on the school website. Administrators look through the posts on a weekly basis and showcase best practice examples. This is a very useful, self-regulating (almost) CPD model with a lot of communication between teachers – really worth looking into!
P.S. The scheme is called the igKnight Academy – do the creators see themselves on a crusade against ‘one-size-fits-none’ INSETT, I wonder? 🙂 Still, it’s an excellent effort to make CPD better for everyone.
Here is a bit of inspiration for a rainy day! I know many people who don’t like listening to audiobooks or podcasts, but this post by Olly Lewis might convince them otherwise: educational podcasts can be a great source of professional development, and they can help you unwind (and develop) much better than music. How does it work? On your way to or from work, instead of rehashing the same old thoughts about your day or the thousand things you have to do, you listen to colleagues and experts offering new and intereesting ways to look at the profession. It distracts you from your own thoughts, and at the same time gives you new ideas. A perfect combination! Olly also has a great list of recommended podcasts, and most are already on my phone.
P.S. I once linked to Lana’s great post about all the CPD opportunities available for teachers. She writes about ‘pitfalls’ of different opportunities – I wonder what she would say about professional podcasts! 🙂
P.S.S. If anyone’s wondering about the headline, here is the source.