A teacher in Turkey sent me the following email recently:
“I am a teacher interested in teacher development (TD), and I have had my DELTA recently. I am trying to become a teacher trainer in the professional manner. … I would like to request suggestions on the long path of becoming a teacher trainer.”
This comes the same week as another colleague asked me a similar question: how can she gain the skills required to run an in-service program for secondary school teachers that her institution is hosting next year?
Both questions address the issue of training to become a teacher trainer, a job for which there seems to be no clearly defined path nor formal, certificated preparation. (How did you become a teacher trainer, if you are one?)
Cambridge ESOL, for example, (who administer the CELTA and DELTA programs) offer no training courses, but only the following advice:
Who can become a teacher trainer for CELTA?
Potential CELTA trainers are required to have the Cambridge ESOL Delta or an equivalent ELT qualification. Prospective trainers with solely a strong academic background may not be suitable as CELTA trainers because of the required focus on practical classroom issues. An MA in ELT with a strong practical focus may be acceptable if the following four conditions are also met. The prospective trainer:
- has substantial (normally five years), recent and varied ELT experience
- is familiar with the types of classes trainee teachers will teach
- is familiar with the materials trainee teachers will use
- can demonstrate professional involvement in ELT.
What might that ‘professional involvement in ELT’ be, and how could this support an application to be a trainer? My advice:
- Offer to give talks/workshops in your own institution, especially of a practical nature – e.g. how to exploit the coursebook, how to use the IWB, how to develop listening skills, etc.
- If possible, observe your fellow teachers, and allow them to observe you. This should be done in a non-judgmental way, and purely as a means of sharing ideas and techniques.
- If your schedules allow, team-teach with a colleague: planning and executing a lesson together can be an extremely instructive.
- Offer to mentor newly recruited teachers, i.e. help them with with their lesson planning, and observe them from time to time, if this is permitted.
- Write articles or reviews for journals such as English Teaching Professional, that focus on some aspect of classroom practice.
- Keep a blog.
- Participate in online webinars or discussions hosted by professional bodies, such as SEETA, and offer to moderate one.
- Conduct some kind of action research on your own teaching, such as monitoring the effect of an innovative use of some technique or technological aid.
- Join a professional organisation, either national (such as MASH – if you live in Japan) or international – such as IATEFL.
- Attend, and present at, conferences and seminars, both locally (if available) or further afield.
- Attend teacher training workshops or short courses, such as those offered by organisations like International House: these are the nearest thing to some kind of recognised qualification in teacher training.
- If you are thinking of embarking on an MA course, choose one that has some kind of teacher education component.
- Create a portfolio: e.g. open a folder itemising and documenting all the above activities that is easly available to support any application for a job.
Even if none of these activities leads directly to a teacher training job (which ultimately depends a lot on being at the right place at the right time), they will certainly improve the quality of your professional life, and enhance your career prospects generally.