The Teacher Trainer Diaries – Induction 2021/2022 – Part 2

This is the second of three parts focusing on induction week. You can read Part 1 here. In Part 2, I will be focusing on days 3 and 4, and will also touch on some post-induction week feedback I received.

Day 3

Sessions

Day 3 Reflections

Today’s sessions started off really well. I had teachers think about what makes a good lesson, which led into the lesson stew activity nicely. What I found really interesting was how creative teachers got with regard to the ‘stew’. In reality, no-one came up with a stew, although we kept referring to it as this. One was a factory of sorts, and the other was something far more abstract which aimed to show how non-linear good lessons can be (see pictures). Teachers were able to come up with plenty of really good ideas themselves with pretty much no input from myself. Following the stew creation and after sharing, I asked learners to come up with a number of thinking questions that we could ask ourselves to take our understanding of what we had covered deeper (see picture). We then answered these in plenary – most teachers gave plenty of responses, although it felt like we were repeating ourselves with some of the questions. Perhaps these could have been used in Day 4 as a recycling activity? To finish the session, I asked if teachers would be happy if I used what they had created as a post-lesson reflection checklist and part of the observation criteria. All were happy with that, and I think this really highlighted just how involved we want teachers to be with the development programme.

The bottom left factory and the ‘Bart Simpson’ pages are from What makes a good lesson?.

With regard to the first session’s teacher success criteria, teachers all put Met or Partially Met, which I was very happy with. Still room for improvement though.

The second session, learning and autonomy, was quite interesting. We started off by defining autonomy and autonomous learners. This was quite interesting, and I do feel like it was difficult at times to understand if we were talk about autonomy or motivation. These obviously go hand in hand, but it seems liked we focused more on motivation than other aspects of autonomy (learning strategies, teacher efforts, etc.). With this in mind, I boarded a few thinking questions for teachers to discuss in pairs, one of which was: To what extent can we as teachers impact learners’ autonomy? This got some lively discussion going. Following this, we then moved into the evaluation of activities with regard to how much learner autonomy they encouraged or produced. I gave my instructions for the activity, but later remembered that I wanted teachers to discuss how they use them in their context. I had to go back to the groups and tell them this, and I think this had an impact on how effective the activity was – namely less than expected! I had originally planned for teachers to complete part 2 immediately after part 1, but I changed my mind. I decided to move into the anti-rules in groups first, and then for reflection, get teachers to complete part 2 with their own classrooms and teaching practice in mind. I spoke to one of the teachers after in a CPD interview, and she mentioned that she found the session really interesting – I hope they all did. I can say that they all produced quite a lot of content and were able to be quite explicit about what they would like to do – the trouble now, I suppose, is seeing if this has any effect in their classrooms.

All teachers put down either Met or Partially Met for this session, which in my mind is something really positive. I can see that the Partially Met criterion is really important as it does give some leeway with regard to the interpretation of the workshop title and abstract, something which I feel can be an issue at times (e.g. managing expectations of teachers).

Feedback

Session: What makes a good lesson? – The Stew
How useful was the session?100% Useful
How enjoyable was the session?100% Enjoyable
Session: Autonomy and learning
How useful was the session?100% Useful
How enjoyable was the session?100% Useful
Teachers responded on a three-point scale: not useful/enjoyable, somewhat useful/enjoyable, & useful/enjoyable.

Day 4

Sessions

Day 4 Reflections

The first session, Classroom management, turned out to be really insightful. We first defined classroom management, and this really brought to light how complex the concept actually is. I felt that this was important as it highlighted that classroom management is more than just rewards and punishments. From here, I had teachers think about their own classroom management stories and problems and then define some principles. We then moved into the first reading, aiming to find similarities between John’s class and their own teaching. Some were found, but most did say that some of what occurs does not happen in their classes. As we moved into the second, group reading, in which we identified positives and negatives, I took a step back and really just listened. I was surprised by just how critical everyone was. This is something I feel we as teachers (and as trainers, until we catch ourselves) do a lot – be extremely critical of another person’s lessons – including our own when we have to self-reflect. Many of the points raised I didn’t feel were necessarily ‘correct’, but it was interesting to see the rationale behind their thoughts – which, I have to say, were well thought-out for the most part. Following the main reading task, I had teachers refer back to their initial principles and see if they had mentioned any that came up in the reading. They had identified quite a number, although they found them a little difficult to recognise, and I had to guide a little here. When we came to the connecting to practice stage, I had teachers think about which of the ideas from the article they would like to use in their classes, which then led to the reflective part of the lesson – Briefcase, Freezer and Bin. I told teachers that they could put ideas wherever they want, but if they put something in the rubbish bin, they had to justify why. A number of them put one point in the rubbish bin (e.g. curse of knowledge), but when pressed they then removed it. This may sound negative, but I feel that this part of reflection, namely the dialogic aspect, is important. One thing that I messed up in this session, however, is the success criteria. I had teachers define their success criteria, but then at the end I didn’t get them to mark down if the criteria were met or not. I did get them to do it at the start of the next session; however, I was a little annoyed at myself for forgetting. I was happy to see that most of the teachers put Met or Partially Met at the end. There were a number of Not Met as they were focused more on activities and classroom management systems to use with learners (in essence, dealing with behaviour issues). An improvement, then, might be to include a section in this session (or in induction week) in which we focus on these specific issues. Perhaps having teachers bring in their own systems could be good for this.

The second session, First Lessons, started with a visualisation – I had teachers close their eyes and then think back on first lesson experiences, both as teachers and learners. They then shared their thoughts and experiences in pairs. I found that this really set the scene with regard to positives and negatives for first lessons. As we moved into the activities, I was surprised by how on-point the underlying beliefs were, although teachers found it a little difficult to think about other activities. This being said, the conversation got really interesting when we moved to the evaluation of activities – teachers were ‘upgrading’ activities, thinking about how they could be adapted, and taking into account COVID measures. I thought this was great. Once they finished, we added a few more from the group and then I ran teachers through the situations. This, in my mind, was a big mistake. I think the activity itself was good, but I really think that I should have changed the situations to be more relevant for the teachers. Teachers were more than happy to think about the various situation, but I did note a few ‘why are we thinking about these situations’ faces. I will change these for next time.

I was expecting a little bit of push back regarding the micro teaching. This being said, I received none – in fact, some teachers even seemed a little happy to be tasked with this. Before summarising and leaving, I had teachers tell me their activity that they would like to do. They could change this, but I wanted the micro-teaching of activities to all be different. This was achieved.

When we reviewed the success criteria, I was happy to see that the teachers all said that we had ‘Met’ their success criteria. Today felt a lot longer than previous days, but I do feel like we got a lot more pedagogic knowledge work in, as opposed to the rapport building activities that we did in previous days. In terms of how to build on this, I am looking forward to tomorrow’s micro teaching and self-evaluations and then getting them to complete a questionnaire a week or so after the start of term to see how their first lessons went and if they used any of the activities we covered. I’m not sure it’s the best was to measure the effectiveness of this session, but I feel it is non-intrusive (I don’t want to be doing observations in the first few lessons) and gives me at least some feedback.

Feedback

Session: Classroom management
How useful was the session?100% Useful
How enjoyable was the session?100% Enjoyable
Session: The first lessons
How useful was the session?100% Useful
How enjoyable was the session?100% Enjoyable

A few weeks later!

So, a few weeks after the first lessons session, I sent out a Google Form to teachers asking them about their first few weeks. What follows below is their feedback. I will build on this in the Part 3 of this post.

Did you use the activity that you used in the micro-teaching session from induction week?100% Yes
Did you use any of the other activities presented in the first lessons session?100% Yes
Please state how effective the ‘first lessons’ and ‘microteaching’ sessions were at preparing you for the first week of term.66.7% Very effective
33.3 % Effective

Final notes

Days 3 and 4 were huge successes in my mind. I felt really confident going into these sessions, and the feedback that I got back from teachers was really positive. I of course have identified areas where there could be improvements (as with everything), but I feel that for me this is a huge step forward in my teacher-training self. In Part 3, we will look at the final day and then the overall evaluation of induction week, both from the teachers’ and my perspectives (with plenty of points for Future Jim). This being said, I would love to hear all your feedback as soon as you read this post. If you have tried any of the these activities and want to tell me your thoughts, or feel like I could have done something different, please let me know 🙂

5 Comments

  1. What an amazing post, Jim! I read it with great interest. First of all, it was great to see how you used the Stew activity and thank you for sharing the session plan and the whiteboard pic. I’ve saved the pdf and with your permission, I’d like to use it in a future session. Secondly, it’s lovely to read how you use images and metaphors, working from and building on the personal theories the teachers bring. I’ve also been hugely influenced by Wright and Bolitho, as well as Jon Roberts’ book Language Teacher Education, both of which focus on adopting a constructivist approach to training. One of the portfolio tasks on the TD course is to design materials for three hours of training and I think that you already have tons of ideas and materials to ace this one, so if I were you I’d start working on it, before actually starting the course! If you can spare the time of course! Getting back to the the stew, the way you linked it to practice by asking them to agree on a new observation criterion was really clever. 💡 I also liked day 4 session, where you used the article as data-based input. I personally feel it’s essential to provide a range of different input modes and not over-rely on powerpoints and videos. Reading articles, even blogposts and extracts from ELT methodology books can be great for triggering discussions and raising awareness of new concepts, ideas, techniques or innovations of any kind. I look forward to reading how the microteaching went. What I might do differently is to use peer rather than self-evaluation, given that they have such good rapport and you want to create that trusting and collaborative culture. Last but not least, thank you so much for using and sharing some of my ideas, you have no idea how much this motivates me and how much I appreciate it 🧡. Apologies for the huge comment 😁

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Don’t apologise haha! Thank you so much, Rachel. It means a lot. I agree with everything you wrote, and especially about the peer feedback. You will see in the next post how I integrated both peer and self-evaluation (an idea that I stole from Hughes (basically everyone takes turns at being the observer while the others are learners).

      I’ll also be ‘formally’ mentioning my influences in the last post, and you are one of them! Not only your ideas, but your posts and insights have really helped and motivated me along the way – so thank you!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you so much. Look forward to part 3 and curious about the micro-teaching. I’ve never tried it and it would help a lot to read how you set it up and ran it!

    Like

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