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Teacher Training vs Teacher Development
The difference and why it matters.
Teacher training vs development — what’s the difference?
Training is selected for you, and usually, attendance is compulsory. Whether it’s relevant, useful or interesting is pot-luck.
Development is an activity that you choose to engage in. Most likely, it’s relevant, valuable and interesting as well.
The critical difference is the freedom of choice.
How much time do you spend training vs developing?
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Training usually is of a one-size-fits-all variety.
A workshop for everyone set by your organisation is training. Showing everyone how to use a new coursebook or product is training. Training is standardised, measured and delivered in a neat package.
Training is necessary, especially for newer staff who might not be knowledgeable enough to know what to do next.
Training can be excellent. It helps raise the minimum standard, and it’s usually done during work hours. It can even help with teacher retention. Furthermore, a good trainer will be engaging, will differentiate, and introduce the latest concepts, ideas and industry best practices.
Training will also have feedback and some follow-up if you’re really fortunate.
The one thing training doesn’t have is freedom of choice. You can’t choose the topic, the method, the timing, or the amount.
And that’s the issue. The lack of control can lead to boredom, frustration, or even resentment (“Why do I have to sit here and listen to something I already know when I’ve got marking to do!”)
That’s where ‘development’ comes in.
Self-guided development usually starts as an itch, a problem you want to solve.
From “how do I get young Jimmy to behave in class?” to “why do I keep messing up my grammar explanations to my upper-intermediate class?” you wind up investigating something. Your teaching life (and your students’ experience) becomes better when you find the answer.
And then you start again.
Development is driven by wanting to be a better teacher, caring for your students, and even wishing to have an easier time. Genuine development is all the things that training can’t be — i.e. you can choose the topic, the method, the timing and the amount.
So why don’t we all develop by ourselves?
A few things can get in the way of effective development. Teachers have too many teaching hours and no time to do anything but survive. They’re not sure what to do next. They’re relatively inexperienced.
Or it could be that a teacher has a passion for a particular area that doesn’t coincide with their or the school’s objectives (i.e. they want to learn the local language and practice it at length in every class they teach…)
Also, self-guided development is often a solitary practice, which means no feedback.
Both training and development are effective for their purpose. Training can ensure a minimum standard, whereas self-guided development is needed for consistent, long-term improvement.
Teachers: what’s the next thing you want to develop? What catches your attention? What problems do you want to solve for your learners or yourself?
Trainers: how can you encourage development in training sessions? How can you differentiate training sessions more?
Managers: how can you make more time for development? Do you have to have that next training session, or can you talk to teachers individually about what they’re doing to develop?
See you again in two weeks.
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