The Teacher Trainer Diaries – Induction 2021/2022 – Part 3

This is the third and final part of a series of posts focused on induction week 2021/2022. If you’d like to read the first two parts, you can read them here: Part 1 and Part 2.

Day 5

Sessions

Reflections

Session 1: Micro-teaching

The final day was probably one of the best days in terms of breaking down barriers between teachers. We started off by agreeing on peer observation ground rules (see picture). I think teachers were a little bit unsure why they were dong this, though. It seemed most of them thought that this was common sense, but there were a few points that came up that I ‘re-directed’, namely how critical we should be of each other. I pushed the idea that in peer observations we are not really there to criticise, but we are there to learn and see how their practice differs to our own and what we can learn from that. I wanted to make it clear that we can offer feedback on certain parts of their practice; however, this should really occur when asked, if the dynamic permits and/or if the peer observation task leaves space for this. The ground rules that came came up were:

  • Don’t be critical (in the sense of being negative and overly harsh)
  • Use a feedback sandwich (although they came up with this, I emphasised that peer observation really are for learning and reflection, as opposed to providing feedback. This being said, if a teacher asked for honest feedback, they should not be denied that – in this case, the feedback sandwich is an ‘ok ‘ technique).
  • Ask why? – This was brought up as a ‘finding the rationale’ technique
  • Stick to the task – This was put on the board after I added that they would most likely, 95% of the time, be given or create a peer observation task which both the peer observer and the observed teacher will have access to.
  • Ask the teacher to identify what they did
  • Look for similarities and differences in our practice and their practice

I thought that this list was actually quite a good list for a group of teachers who, in general, are quite ‘junior’ in terms of teaching years. I should also note that all the teachers had previously done peer observations, but never with this ‘priming’ or preparation.

After the ground rules, I asked them to create the questions for the peer observation task that would be used in the micro-teaching activity. They were able to come up with three questions:

  1. Did the activity complete its aims?
  2. What did the learners get out of this?
  3. Were the learners engaged?

When we moved into the micro-teaching of a first-lesson activity, I could see that teachers were a little nervous. I decided to go first and I chose one of the teachers to be the observer while the rest would be my learners. After the activity was carried out, I asked the observer for feedback – he gave me his responses to the questions the group had created. I then asked the teachers/learners how they felt during the activity. This process repeated itself with all teachers, with everyone having the chance to be the observer. I really liked this as it gave them the chance to see what a trainer does, but it also showed me that they could engage in feedback in a fairly ‘friendly’ manner. In out post-session coffee break, everyone said they enjoyed it and found it useful. I certainly saw them a little less stressed! I will say, however, that it took a little longer than I expected. They were all supposed to teach for a maximum of fifteen minutes – for most this was the case, although some went over. The feedback then took between five to ten minutes for each. So, perhaps for next time it might be worthwhile to do this over two sessions – or to make a morning of it and then call it a day.

Teachers did carry out a self-evaluation of their activity; however, this was kept private and only shared if they felt like it. Those that did felt the activity was positive for them and that they had identified one or two areas that they could change, adapt, etc. I didn’t feel the need to push teachers to share their personal reflections at this stage – I feel that micro-teaching and peer feedback (which was largely dialogic) was enough for the session.

Session 2: Induction summary

This session was fun. Teachers completed a board game with questions that focused on content from induction week (e.g. what time do we need to be in our classrooms? What do we do if there is a problem with classroom management?). It was great to see that teachers remembered a lot of the points, and when they didn’t they went straight to their notes or the teacher’s handbook (which is exactly what I wanted – this way they don’t always need to come to me!). They completed this fairly quickly and all got prizes for being awesome (lollipops all-round!). One thing did come up here – I asked a question about fire drills and later realised that I hadn’t actually put this information in the teacher’s handbook. Something to change for next year.

Following the board game, I gave all teachers a QR code which led to the induction programme evaluation, the results of which I will talk about below. One comment that came up from a lot of teachers here was that they couldn’t remember the sessions. So, when asked about the usefulness and how enjoyable they were, they said that the didn’t remember. One thing to change, then, is to have an evaluation for each of the days and then a final one for the end of the week.

Feedback

Session: Micro-teaching
How useful was the session?80% Useful
20% Somewhat useful
How enjoyable was the session?80% Enjoyable
20% Somewhat enjoyable
Session: Induction summary
How useful was the session?60% Somewhat useful
40% Useful
How enjoyable was the session?80% Enjoyable
20% Somewhat enjoyable

Overall feedback for Induction week

So, we’ve taken a look at all the workshops that took place and the feedback I got from teachers. As mentioned previously, the feedback was collected by means of a questionnaire (Google Forms), with a number of rating scale questions and a final open-ended question. I’ll include the data for the scale questions here in table format and then I’ll do my best to summarise the points from the teachers after.

QuestionSummarised answers
How satisfied were you with the variety of sessions provided?80% Very satisfied
20% Satisfied
How satisfied were you with the clarity of the content of the sessions provided?100% Satisfied
How satisfied were you with the training space?80% Very satisfied
20% Satisfied
How satisfied were you with the support provided by management staff?100% Satisfied
How satisfied were you with the time allocated to induction week?100% Satisfied
How satisfied were you with the social event?100% Satisfied
How comfortable did you feel exploring your own values, attitudes and beliefs in a number of the sessions?80% Very comfortable
20% Comfortable
How well do you feel the sessions matched with the session titles and overviews?80% Very well
20% Well
How well do you feel the sessions prepared you to take on the year at The North Station?60% Very well
20% Well
20% Somewhat well
Summarised teachers points
– This year’s induction week was much better organised and ran very smoothly

– Very succinct, relevant and interesting.

– Change rooms for different sessions so that all the sessions don’t blend into ‘one mix’ (this made it difficult to recall which was which)

– All the sessions were useful and enjoyable. However, I feel like only one session (micro-teaching) was fully related to practice, while the classroom management one was 50% related. The other sessions felt more theoretical to me. I would’ve liked more practice (as in concrete activities and techniques that can be done in class, including demonstrations of these and the chance to try them out myself). I feel that’s important because you’re coming back to the classroom after a summer of not teaching.

– Really thought the rapport building and ‘un-rushed’ nature of the first days were fantastic for gelling as a team. From a teacher’s perspective, it was stress free.

– I liked being able to give my opinion on what should be included in the development programme.

– Very smooth!

My thoughts on the feedback and the week as a whole

So, looking back over the week, the feedback and my reflections, I can say that I am really happy with how it went. I do feel that the exploring and making explicit of value, attitudes, beliefs and expectations is vital in induction weeks as I have found (now well and truly into term 1) that it has guided me and my Director in making well-informed decisions regarding the development programme, assigning of classes, coaching sessions, etc. I also feel that it did open up the teachers and help them ‘gel together’ (to steal the words of one of my own teachers!).

I also feel that having teachers give their opinion of what we should focus on in the development programme was a huge positive point. Why? Well, I have seen now that teachers are actually really keen to come to the workshops (not that they weren’t before, but I know that they feel that the sessions are more ‘for them’ because they are the ones that decided on the topics). I also like how the post-observation/lesson reflection sheet will now include questions that they decided on. If you are interested, I went through their ‘good lesson stews’ and came up with the following questions:

How well do you feel you managed the class? 
How well do you feel you monitored and reacted to your learners’ needs throughout the class? 
How effective do you feel your I.C.Qs and C.C.Qs were? Why? 
How did the interaction patterns used affect your lesson? 
How well did you use a variety of activities? Why do you say this? 
How well do you feel learners met the overall learning aim and success criteria? 
What evidence do you have that learners grasped what you wanted them to? If you don’t have any, how can you try to get it? 
How engaged were learners throughout the lesson? Were there any ‘lulls’ in the lessons? 
How comfortable did learners seem in the lesson? What about yourself? 

I know that the last question is very subjective and as an observer I feel that maybe the question is not as valid as some others, but it seemed very important to them and if that is the case then I feel it should be included in the list.

Having said all this there are still some points that I am looking forward to changing and working on for the following academic year’s induction week:

  • More practical activities and games that teachers can take away: One of the teachers mentioned that they wanted more activities that they could use in their classes. In essence, they wanted to come away with a number of ideas that they could immediately use in their classes. Considering the experience level of the teachers, I should have considered this previously. I certainly won’t cut down on the values, attitudes, beliefs and expectations activities, but I do feel that more sessions (at least one) could work really well in meeting this teacher need. I think back on my first few years teaching and I feel that I was the same, and those sessions really did help me in terms of planning.
  • More than one micro-teaching session: I really enjoyed this type of training activity, and seeing the teachers’ reactions really emphasised in my mind the need to do more of this. As I mentioned before, the micro-teaching session went longer than expected, and so I feel that this should really be spread out over two sessions and allow for more time in the feedback phase. Alternatively, there could be another micro-teaching day with a different focus (e.g. games in the classroom – this might kill two birds with one stone!).
  • Schools policies and administration: One teacher said that this session was not enjoyable, although they didn’t give me any feedback on how it could be improved (which is a little annoying!). I imagine that this could be made more enjoyable by creating a more ‘energetic’ task, or an escape-room-like activity. I will need to really think about this because I had hoped that this activity would be a lot better than the standard PowerPoint presentation covering everything that admin needs to get across.
  • Social events: The social event that we had planned was ok – we didn’t expect the escape room to be so ‘long’ and really reliant on one person. With this in mind, I would like to change it to a normal escape room or something else. Also, I feel having more than one would be a great idea.
  • Streamlining paper work: One of the negative points for the first few days was the ‘getting the paperwork done’ quickly. Both my director and I agree that this was not done as effectively as it could have been done. I know that as a teacher if I am asked to read and sign something with other people around, I am likely going to read it quickly and not in great detail. With this in mind, for the next year we will be emailing out important documents to read over before teachers arrive (and using Adobe sign to get them to sign when they are ready). This was there should be no last-minute rushing of paperwork.

Final notes

Old or new ideas?

“There is no such thing as a new idea. It is impossible. We simply take a lot of old ideas and put them into a sort of mental kaleidoscope. We give them a turn and they make new and curious combinations. We keep on turning and making new combinations indefinitely; but they are the same old pieces of coloured glass that have been in use through all the ages.”

Mark Twain

One thing that I need to say before closing this series of post is that many of my ideas for this induction week are in fact not mine – and I am unapologetic about that! This being said, credit is due and I’d like to give a shout out to some special people. If there is one thing that I can encourage us all to do more of is to go a get other people’s ideas and make them your own for your own teaching/training/managing context. One thing I struggled with when I moved into teacher training was this idea that I needed to come up with all new ideas, new sessions, new x and y. But, in reality, there are people who have already been there and who have the ideas and are willing to share them. Don’t feel bad about going out there, taking them and making them your own. Just make sure you credit those who have influenced you 🙂 Here are mine for this induction week:

  • Tony Wright and Rod Bolitho: I do hope that one day I get to meet these guys. Until then, I’m just going to send them a massive thank you for their book Trainer Development. If you are a trainer or manager and haven’t read it, then I highly suggest you do. You’ll find many of the workshop sessions from this induction week have their origins in this book. But more than that, this book helped me to what my role as a trainer should look like if I really want ‘development’ to occur.
  • John Hughes: Hughes’ book A Practical Introduction into Teacher Training in ELT had plenty of ideas that I stole. Please do check it out, especially if you are new on the teacher training circuit.
  • Rachel Tsateri: For those of you that haven’t checked out Rachel’s blog, The TEFL Zone, I highly suggest you do so right now. Rachel is a fellow blogger and a massive influence. Her posts about teacher training, her journey, and especially the materials she has created for workshops and teacher-led evaluation are amazing.
  • Martin Parrot: Apart from helping me understand grammar many years ago, Parrot also helped me, with his book Tasks for Language Teachers, design a number of the sessions.
  • Craig Thaine: Whilst I didn’t included any of his ideas in this induction week, his book Teacher Training Essentials has helped me numerous times over my teacher training career, especially with regard to starting points for sessions.
  • Nick Michelioudakis: I used Nick’s Modern English Teacher article, 10 tips on classroom management and motivation (Volume 26, Issue 3), with my teachers. It was well written and included plenty of evidence-based tips for teachers.
  • ELT Concourse: Ah, I don’t know how many times I have been to this site over the years, both as a teacher (especially studying for Delta) and a trainer. A huge thank you is deserved here.
  • Rose Tanner and Catherine Green: Their book, Tasks for Teacher Education, helped me much in the same way as Thaine’s. It also provided the base for the first lessons sessions.

Some questions for you

Induction week is one of those weeks that I feel a lot of organisations see as something as necessary administrative week that teachers are going to feel is boring and so they just get everything done as quickly as possible. I also feel that this is one of those weeks that is not taken advantage of enough. Our induction week for this academic year is far from perfect, but I feel that it hits a number of important induction week objectives:

  • To provide teachers with an opportunity to get to know each other (especially important if there are new teachers!) or catch up after the summer break
  • To provide teachers with an opportunity to familiarise themselves with the school’s objectives, goals, materials, etc. for the year
  • To support teachers in their first few weeks of term
  • To provide space for teachers to express their concerns, doubts, needs and wants regarding the year, their development and their own goals.

I really enjoyed planning, running and then reflecting on the week, and now seeing how it is benefiting the school (e.g. much more focused development programme goals, etc.)! One of the reasons I started to write this post (apart from reflecting on the week) was to share how an induction week could be done as I felt that there was not a lot on the net. I do hope that these posts provide some ideas regarding how trainers/managers might carry out an induction week in their contexts. With this in mind, please feel free to share your thoughts! Some questions I have in mind are included below. I would really love to see your responses either here in the comments or by email 🙂

  • What feedback do you have for me? How do you feel I could improve this induction week?
  • Would any of the activities work in your context? Why/Why not?
  • How is induction week carried out in your organisation? Is it vastly different to the one shown here? How?
  • If your organisation doesn’t have an induction week, how could you go about encouraging them to do so? Or, perhaps you feel that there isn’t a need – if you do, I would love to know why!

6 Comments

  1. Thank you for sharing the whole process and your session plan, Jim. The feedback is really positive, you should be proud .👏 It sounds like this priming stage was valuable and teachers came up with 3 important questions. Speaking of questions- did the teachers teach the whole group or were they split in smaller groups, eg of 3 pax (1 teacher + 2 students?) it could help reduce anxiety, if they’re all micro-teaching at the same time, plus it takes less time. We tried it this way in a summer school workshop years ago and it worked nicely, but of course we had a large classroom and a couple of flipcharts . Finally, I loved the Mark Twain quote and thank you so much for the mention. Keep up the fantastic work 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Rachel! Also, that’s a great idea. Perhaps doing a ’round robbin’ style micro-teaching could also work, where one or two teachers do the same ‘activity two times with two different groups. Definitely needs a little tweaking for time issues, but am glad we included it. Probably one of the most beneficial aspects of induction week!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Jim,
    I really enjoyed reading these posts Jim, and getting an insight into how somebody else does induction week. Hopefully at some point I’ll be able to access the induction week timetables from Bydgoszcz again and write some kind of post about how we planned our weeks. There were definitely similar aims, but I was nowhere near as good at getting feedback and evaluation on how it worked as you were!
    One other note: How comfortable did learners seem in the lesson? What about yourself? is quite an important question in my opinion. That can tell you about teachers’ confidence levels, their perceptions of learner reactions, and the emotional temperature of what was going on. I think there’s a useful connection to classroom/group dynamics there, and an acknowledgement of the people in the room, which doesn’t seem to be present in any of the other questions.
    Looking forward to reading more entries in this series!
    Sandy

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Sandy!

      I agree, but I’ve spoken to a number of trainers who feel that questions that ask teachers to think about how learners feel are less ‘valid’ than other questions as they are very subjective. In saying this, it has provided some useful insights in this term’s observation period, and to be honest the question nearly always comes up in observation feedback sessions.

      I wonder if this relates to emotional intelligence capabilities in teachers? I suppose by including it in the post-lessom reflection, I feel that I need to then gauge how the learners feel as well so I can speak about this with the teacher after. The most I think I speak about the learners is basically from what I can see and hear …laughters, smiles, etc. I think I try to avoid phrases like ‘they felt good during the lesson’. What about you? Is this just something I’m being too ‘only observed behaviour’ on? Ah, giving feedback is still something I really think about and I know that I need to look at it from different angles and experiment. Looking forward to the Trainer module on the MA…hopefully there will be plenty of ideas!

      Like

      1. Hmmm…I think it’s natural to be subjective about some aspects of our teaching, and therefore it’s important to have the language to describe that subjectivity. It’s also useful to have somebody else who is able to reassure us that the learners were more comfortable than we thought they were, or to help us to understand why the learners/we might have felt uncomfortable. Those are difficult things to measure or discuss in any objective way, but can have a big impact on confidence I think.

        Liked by 1 person

Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.