Article Notes: From traditions to frameworks for teacher training short courses and workshops – Briony Beaven

‘Article Notes’ is a set of blog posts in which I write down my notes about articles that I read. These notes are not meant to be ‘academic’ or ‘formal’; rather, they are my ramblings and immediate thoughts in reaction to the content I read. I’ve written them up to help me remember the article, and to share my thoughts with those who are interested. I welcome you feedback and comments!

Summary and notes

Beaven’s article From traditions to frameworks for teacher training short courses and workshops (accessible here) aims to show how four frameworks based on models on four conceptions of teaching can be used to help make those one-off training sessions and courses more effective. The four conceptions are:

  1. Teaching as a craft: Basically, this is where the trainer expects the trainee to copy their behaviour.
  2. Teaching as applied science: Here this is where research and received knowledge/research theory is “viewed as the basis for effective teaching” (Beaven, 2019, p.3).
  3. Teaching as reflective practice: Here we try to draw out experiences, reflect on and review these, and through this reflection we impact our teaching.
  4. Teacher as participation in a professional community: Here we develop through engaging in dialogue with others in Communities of Practice (COP). Development occurs through peer collaboration. This draws heavily on socio-cultural theory. (Check out Kennedy’s article for a better overview than my few sentences).

Beaven writes that by using these perspectives as frameworks, we can help my the one-off sessions or short courses more effective, although these frameworks need to be combined with “attention to teachers’ needs and expectations, bearing in mind their training to date, the kind and amount of teaching experience they have had and the purpose of the training event” (Beaven, 2019, p.3). She also puts forward two questions for us to think about (after collecting the previous information, I assume):

  1. Is the training event intended to transmit knowledge and skills or to encourage critical and innovative practice?
  2. Is the focus on individual or collective development?

In the remainder of the article, she provides four examples of workshops run using these frameworks, and then she provides a trainer training session, that aims to raises trainers’ awareness of the frameworks, which I thought was really interesting.

Lastly, she concludes by writing that by incorporating these frameworks into our practice for one-off sessions and short courses (in conjunction with appropriate ‘teacher needs’ information), we can make them more principled and productive.

I liked this article, one, because it was short and sweet; and two, because it provided some very clear examples of some sessions following these frameworks. I suppose my doubts, though, are related to lasting impact. But, as Beaven writes, these one-off sessions and short courses are here to stay for a myriad of reasons. Therefore, trainers should aim to make these as principled, productive and impactful as possible.

Points from Article My thoughts
One-offs or very brief mini-courses continue to flourish however, for practical and organisational reasons. For many language schools and cultural
institutes they are viewed as the only financially and temporally feasible mode of teacher
education… (p. 2).
Beaven writes about budgeting issues, some trainers not being full-time trainers, some teachers being freelancers, and using these one-offs to get group/individual CPD started as reasons. I wonder, however, if the perceived value of the external expert is another reason why schools keep these one-offs and short courses going?
Section: The four traditions of teacher education Section: The four traditions of teacher education
Ideas of appropriate ways to educate teachers of English
have changed with time, partly owing to the ascendancy of different views of how English is
best taught and learned, but also because of evolving notions of how and what teachers should learn. (p. 2)
Used to be more transmission/didactic. I suppose we’d like to think that now we include more transformative or ‘transitional’ (see Kennedy) models/approaches to teacher education within our programmes.
…based on four conceptions of teaching:
– Teaching as a craft – copying or imitating an expert’s teaching behaviour and
recommendations,
– Teaching as applied science – public theory in the form of lectures, books and articles is
viewed as the basis for effective teaching,
– Teaching as reflective practice – surfacing direct experiences of teaching and routine
classroom behaviour, reflecting on and rethinking these,
– Teaching as participation in a professional community – the situated, contextual development
of the social professional identity of teachers. (p. 3)
Interesting to see Wallace’s and Richard and Lockharts’ models integrated here. What I find interesting in terms of the terminolgu, is that I am reading Richards’ Beyond Training at the moment, and within the second chapter he talks about conceptions of teaching, with Art/Craft being more the ‘mysterious’ one with no ‘rules’. He also talks about the science-research conception. I found it interesting thought that in some places Craft model is seen as the do-as-the-model-does, and in others Craft is seen as building your own teaching philosophy and theory. Look forward to reviewing Beyond Training and talking about this more.
Rather, there has always been a movement back and forth between the traditions, according to local needs, wishes, context and resources. (p. 3) I wonder how this changes between Western and Eastern settings. And how who is pushing the research into second language teacher education influences this.
Section: Workshops based on a framework derived from a traditionSection: Workshops based on a framework derived from a tradition
The question is, how can we create a bridge from credible frameworks to our ninety minutes or three hours with teachers in a language school on a Friday afternoon?
The answer will involve attention to teachers’ needs and expectations, bearing in mind their
training to date, the kind and amount of teaching experience they have had and the purpose of
the training event. (p. 3)
Agreed! As someone who delivers many workshops like this, though, I will say that it can be difficult to get this information from schools. Some schools are willing to provide it, but often struggle to get the right information. Then there are some places which say they will get the information to you, and then not do it. Even when we get information from schools, it can still be hard to generalise needs based on years teaching or levels taught. Just because a teacher has been teaching for 20 years, it does not mean that they have been developing for 20 years.
The variety of possible purposes can be illustrated by two example
questions a teacher education planner might ask themselves: Is the training event intended to
transmit knowledge and skills or to encourage critical and innovative practice? Is the focus on
individual or collective development? (p. 3)
Great questions.
The evaluation form is designed to ensure that the teachers/trainees notice certain micro-skills
that the trainer deems important. A right and a wrong way to teach is assumed… (p. 3)
Breaking teaching down into micro-skills and making clear that by mastering these, they’ll be ‘better’ teachers.
The trainer who has devised a mini-course, such as the one above, assumes that the applied
science tradition is valuable and can lead to teacher learning but that for many teachers
professional reading needs to be integrated into, and made relevant to, practice if it is to seem
worth the effort. (p. 4)
I am very fond of bringing in articles into workshops as a form of input. I feel this creates a different dynamic, provides more thinking time, and exposes teachers to professional discourse in a relevant manner. I have had mixed reactions to this though, with some teachers wanting to go straight to the talking part, but for the most part reactions from teachers have been really positive.
Teachers build a personalised
teaching wall using ‘bricks’ (drawn on paper) provided by the trainer and filling in blank pieces of A4 paper to make their own bricks. They build the wall placing the bricks where they want them and can throw away any bricks that do not represent their values. (p. 4)
This is awesome. Am 100% stealing this idea and using in induction week next year!
The bricks have to be placed with a teacher’s most important principles at the bottom of the
wall and the others on top. This leads to in-depth reflection ‘because one cannot place one brick on top of another without manifesting certain ideas about relations between the various
goals and values’ (Korthagen 2001: 167). (p. 4)
Great for extracting values, attitudes, beliefs and expectations (VABEs).
The organisers and facilitator assume that teachers benefit from getting to know and to trust
each other and from being involved in each other’s teaching experiences. (p. 4)
Communities of Practice provide that safe development space (if done right). Zhenya’s posts about her experiences with COPs are really insightful. Will have to return to these in the future.
…social interaction and collaboration will lead to joint production of resources that can positively affect the group members’ professional practice. (p. 5). Drawing on SCT and ZPD.
Section: Helping teacher trainers to use the frameworks for their short sessionsSection: Helping teacher trainers to use the frameworks for their short sessions
1. Familiarise the teacher trainers with the four traditions, as described above.
2. Show and discuss the four example workshop summaries above.
3. Set up an experiential activity to:
a. provide the teacher trainers with practice in categorising session plans according to framework,
b. demonstrate the potential for fruitful incorporation of the four frameworks into their session planning,
c. give trainers the opportunity to create a session outline based on one of the frameworks for their own training contexts. (p. 5)
Really interesting to see the training the trainers ideas.
Section: Conclusion Section: Conclusion
However, we can also profitably situate our short sessions within the frameworks; judicious
selection or combination enables us to take a principled and productive approach to
workshops and mini-courses. (p. 5)
As long as we get that ‘needs’ and ‘wants’ information.

References

All the above extracts (and references within) have been taken from:

Beaven, B. (2019) From traditions to frameworks for teacher training short courses and workshops. The Teacher Trainer Journal, 33/3, p.2-5.

4 Comments

  1. Zhenya says:

    Hi Jim
    Thank you for the great post, and the mention. I love the idea for the ‘‘Article Notes’’ posts as you are sharing what you read and offering your reflections. This can be a great conversation starter at an event, e.g. I am thinking to share your post with the CoP members.
    Thank you for writing your SpongeELT blog: there is a lot of reading for me to catch up here!
    Zhenya

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Zhenya – for both your comments and your amazing posts! They provide me with loads to think about 🙂 I will definitely keep going with Article Notes, if for nothing else because they help me remember what I read! And I can definitely see how something similar could be used in a group conversation. If you use them, I hope the conversation goes well!

      Liked by 1 person

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