Cambridge Train the Trainer – Week 2

This is part of the series Cambridge Train the Trainer.

Overview of the week

So, last week was very much the introductory week to the course – we were eased into things basically. This week was a lot heavier in terms of looking at what trainers do and the planning involved, which I found great. We spoke about input, specifically what types of input there are and how this input can help define the session we are planning. We then were given an example session plan and asked to identify strengths and weaknesses, which we then used to create our own modified session plan with similar learning outcomes. And, as usual, the week ended with some reflective questions, which I am more than happy to share with you all here!

Which aspects of this week do you think will be useful to you in your training?

Can I say all of them? Yep, I am going to say all of them! So, let’s start from the input types. Developing training sessions is something I really enjoy doing, but taking a step back and looking at the variety of input types available has opened up a whole new world. One that I really look forward to trying out is the reading about teaching letter. In short, there was a letter that had been penned to someone within the education system – it basically said that writer was abhorred by the state of English in state schools, and directly attributed this to the lack of grammar teaching (this guy felt really, really strongly about this!). Using this as a discussion piece on beliefs regarding the importance of grammar in the classroom is something that I think will be not only fun but also quite insightful.

Now, looking to the evaluation and modifying of the session plan. I said in one of the comment sections within the course that I had planned many sessions and often I have had these checked by other trainers, but I have never actually given another trainer feedback on their session. This was a really useful experience and I will most certainly be using the criteria we covered for evaluating session plans when planning my own. The criteria were (both from the course and extras that I added):

  • Are the learning outcomes of the session clear?
  • Does the content of the session match the learning outcomes?
  • Does the content seem relevant to the target group of teachers?
  • Does the session include a balance between input/theory and output/practice?
  • Does the session include a suitable variety of interaction patterns?
  • Can you follow the procedure of the session?
  • Is there a feedback/summary stage at the end of the session so that teachers can reflect?
  • Do stage aims match the procedure?
  • Does the trainer draw on the teachers’ experience?
  • Does the trainer make good use of equipment and room, etc.?
  • Is timing for the session realistic?

How did you feel about evaluating the training session plan? What challenges did you face?

As mentioned, I found this to be a super positive experience, but it didn’t come without its challenges. It is very easy at times to say what is wrong with something, but it is a completely different thing to then change what is wrong and make it right (this actually makes me think about giving feedback with observations – there is always a need to say why something needs to change and gives ways in which the teacher might like to make appropriate changes). With regard to the changes that I made, I completely revamped the whole thing – using both some activities mentioned in the course and activities I have trialled in my own sessions. It took me a little while, but I got there. I still think that stage aims are one of the hardest parts of any plan, be it for a lesson or a training session, so I am looking forward to the feedback I get. Feel free to read over my plan here – if you have any feedback, I would be grateful!

Final notes

All in all, this was a fascinating and insightful week. I had some issues with my computer which set me back a few days, but apart from this I am super happy with how things are going so far. I am looking forward to the content and activities for this week – we are going to be designing our own sessions, getting feedback on these, and the acting on this feedback. I will let you all know how it goes in a week or so!

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