Cambridge Train the Trainer – Week 4

This is part of the series Cambridge Train the Trainer.

Whereas week 3 was devoted to planning training session, week 4 was devoted to delivering training sessions. We looked at using certain types of tasks, used these tasks, and we also covered supportive trainer talk. Let’s take a closer look at these now.

Task formats

Over the course, we have looked at numerous task formats, from categorising to matching and loads of others. This week we looked at two more – think-pair-share and jigsaw activities.

Think-pair-share is where teachers are given a question, tasks, etc. to do by themselves. They then share this information with a partner or in a group, and then the whole group comes together for feedback. A great format that allows for teacher discussion and loads of sharing, something I believe to be important in workshops.

The jigsaw format, on the other hand, is a task that most of us have probably used in class with our students. In short, there are a number of texts, and each teacher is given a specific text. They then read this text and share the information they have learnt with people in their group. The group can then use this information to answer any questions the trainer has planned. This is a favourite of mine for training session as well as in class – people really need to get involved in both understanding the content and working together.

Supportive trainer talk

What is supportive trainer talk, you might ask? Well, it is a tool the trainer uses to further and support teacher learning. And, this is a fancy way of saying how the words and interactions the trainer uses/is involved in within the training session help the teachers understand the content and are supported in this. I think it is one of those things that teacher trainers develop the more they start working with teachers and start to understand training dynamics. We covered examples of supportive trainer talk this week, even saw it in action. However, the best thing we did with regard to this topic was actually scripting our own trainer talk (very much the same with our lessons, scripting trainer talk is a useful way of priming yourself for what will or might be needed throughout the session). I scripted the trainer talk for one of the activities I planned for the previous week’s session plan. This was then checked by Mark, one of the other trainers on the course. I also did the same for him. A great little activity that I encourage other trainers to try!

Two things I’ve learnt this week…

  1. Not all talk is created equal. The activities we covered related to supportive trainer talk made me reflect on a lot of my initial trainer experiences as well as those in which I was the trainee teacher. It made me realise that perhaps more work needs to be done on this topic as I believe that it is difficult to do and it can have lasting negative effects on teacher motivations and program success if not done correctly.
  2. Activity – guess the aims. In one of the videos we observed, the trainer took teachers through an activity in which they guessed the aims of the lesson. More specifically, they completed the gaps within the aims. I thought this was brilliant as it focuses teachers on what they are going to be doing in the session (how many times have you paid off the aims slides of a presentation as an attending teacher?) as well as encourages teachers to be actively involved immediately! I’ll be looking to use this in future sessions and in class.

Next week

Week 5 is here, and we will be looking at observing teachers, a topic I am super interested in as it is relevant to my training context as well as one of the most difficult areas of training in my opinion (easy to get wrong, difficult to get right!). Will keep you all posted!

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