Cambridge Train the Trainer – Week 3

This is part of the series Cambridge Train the Trainer.

Week 3 in review

This week we covered what I felt was less content, but a lot more practice – or implementing the learned content. We started off looking at the way in which input sessions are planned and the process of this planning. The course trainers gave us two broad approaches to input sessions:

  1. Theory to practice
  2. Practice to theory

In short, theory to practice is starting with trainer-directed input and then teachers work with this, using it somehow at a later time in the session. Practice to theory is getting teachers to do or create something and then using this as a base in the session. They each have their pros and cons as well as their best suited contexts. When we were covering this content, I asked myself what most of my sessions have followed, and I think the answer is that with internal training, the focus has mainly been: practice to theory. However, when I have done other more formal external sessions (e.g. Changes to the new exams), these generally take a more theory to practice approach. Personally, I think most teachers prefer the practice to theory approach, but it also really does depend on the topic of the session and the audience (the saying ‘know your audience’ is used a lot!).

Now, we have the broad approach to session planning, but what about the process. Well, here is one idea:

  1. Choose a topic
  2. Decide the planning approach: theory to practice or practice to theory?
  3. Decide the input to be used
  4. Choose task types
  5. Write the session plan
  6. Use the evaluation checklist to make sure your plan is good to go
  7. Choose a title (this could also be done at the start)

I suppose I have always planned in a much similar way to what you see above, but it was nice to have been given a clear model to follow (which for the most part I did with my session!).

So, the session I planned was on evaluating coursebooks using McDonough, Shaw & Masuhara’s External-Internal model. I chose this topic as I was planning to run a session on this with my DoS in the coming days – it made sense to do something that was relevant for the course and also relevant for my context. I will say, however, that this was a session for one teacher, which is rare in teacher training, but not entirely unheard of. I spent a good deal of time writing up the plan and creating the necessary material (much more than expected) and I really enjoyed the process. There were a few things I found difficult though – stage aims. These little buggers are still tricky for me in my observed lessons, even after doing Delta. I had to really think about these in my session plan for them to make sense. If you are interested in seeing the session, here is a copy of the original plan:

Once I had completed my plan, I then was asked to evaluate another trainer’s plan. This was super insightful as I got to look at how another trainer would do a session that I might do. It also made me realise that I went into far too much detail in my plan and my materials! Perhaps the most interesting part of this week, however, was actually receiving feedback on my plan. Many of the comments I completely agreed with, others I realised were made because I hadn’t explained something clearly enough. Basically, I hadn’t made my title clear enough and the process was not clear with regard to my role in the interactions with the teacher. Here is my revised plan:

Something I’ve understood about planning training sessions is …….

… that we trainers needs to take into account many factors before choosing an approach to planning. This may include looking at the teachers that are attending, their needs and wants, their training expectations, etc.

A question I have about planning training sessions is ………

… what criteria would you have for anticipated problems and solutions? These would be mine:

  • Content
  • Organisation / Management of the group
  • Technical issues
  • Timing

What others would you add?

Next week

This next week we are going to be covering delivering training sessions. It looks like we are going to be working with a partner and maybe even delivering an actual workshop to our peers – very exciting!


  1. ROWA DOUGLAS says:

    Excellent, Jim!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Rowa!


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