It is the last week of August as well as the last week of vacation for me. At this time next week I will be frantically scurrying around as I prepare for the first lesson in a course I have never taught before.
This week is also the last week of an on and offline (I think the kids are calling this a hybrid) course that I have been working on since January. We are finishing up the 26th of 26 weeks online (the course included 2 super intensive weeks in the winter and 2 super intensive weeks in the summer). As is often the case, my feelings could mostly be described as bittersweet. This feeling might be massed because it looks like it will be the last time for me to run this course and I have been working on it since 2009. The main focus of the course is helping experienced Korean public school teachers be better helpers of other teachers in their schools. A main emphasis is on observation and feedback but we also focus on leadership, being a resource in schools, planning and delivering workshops and helping other teachers with lesson planning. Sometimes this higher meta level of thinking and focus can be a bit daunting and confusing for course participants, some of whom are at first much more interested in adding to their activity stockpile as teachers than they are in thinking about how to help and work with other teachers.
At times on the course it can be confusing to determine where we are and what “level” we are thinking and talking about. I like to use the idea of “hats” to help make this distinction clearer (although to be fair it can make things more confusing at first). For example, we might do an activity where participants act as students and then they think about this might apply to their teaching. This is what we might call thinking with their “Teacher Hat” on. They might have experienced the lesson with their “Student Hat” on but when we start talking about how to apply it to their teaching back at school they are most certainly wearing their teaching hat. I hope this makes sense. Other hats that we consider and wear on the course are “Teacher Helper” (we actually have another word for it but I’d prefer to keep things as simple as possible here) and “Human Hat.” The teacher helper hat speaks to the aspect of helping other teachers and the human hat is about themselves as a person or as a member of the group. An example of this might be something like active listening (which could of course be a teacher helper hat situation as well). Among the main teacher helper areas are observation and feedback and coaching.
Why am I telling you all about these accessories? Well, since the course is winding down we trainers thought it would be a good idea to share some resources with the participants (actually we wanted to do it earlier, but time was not always on our side.) In thinking about what to share and how to share it we decided to share resources from three areas/levels of headgear: human, teacher, teacher helper. So, below I am sharing some of the resources that came to mind for these areas. I would very much welcome any suggestions or additions to the list(s).
Resources for humans
This is probably the area I am least comfortable recommending things, even though it has been remarked that saying “human” much more often than the average English speaking human is part of my idiolect. As I see it, in terms of the resources to be shared in this section, the human hat could just be something interesting or useful for us as people and in this case might be things that help us work better with others or know more about the world and our place in it.
- I have a feeling that another trainer will share the Ted Talks page. I have recently discovered there are podcasts as well from the good people at NPR. It is very tough to mention NPR without mentioning the excellent This American Life Podcast. (Credit to Kevin Giddens for insisting that I listen to this a while back.)
- I can’t really mention podcasts without mentioning the Freakonomics Podcast.
- I have really enjoyed books by Chip and
DaleDave Heath. These include Decisive, Switch, and Made to Stick.
“Decisive” is about how to make better choices in life and work.
“Switch” is about making changes when it seems difficult.
“Made to Stick” is about communicating ideas and how some of them tend to, umm, stick and stay in our minds while others seem to fly away immediately.
I just now noticed the author’s page has a variety of extra resources. While these books seem to be written with business people in mind I think there are very clear links to teaching.
Resources for teachers
- Blogs. Duh.
Perhaps I need to think a bit about which blogs to recommend.
- Twitter. Of course. Including #KELTchat and #ELTchat
I think I would also specifically recommend the #KELTchat Facebook group for those that are not on or interested in Twitter.
- “Understanding Teaching Through Learning” by Josh Kurzweil is always a favorite recommendation.
(It might be difficult to find but it can be done)
- Another book that might be a little difficult to track down but I hope all English teachers in Korea could read is “The Tale that Wags” by Tim Murphey. Here is an interview with the author.
(Readers in Korea: I have a copy of this book. It is currently being loaned out. Anne is next on the list. After her, you could be next. Just let us here at the Griffin lending library know. Charges may apply)
Resources for teacher helpers
- I wasn’t completely sure if I should put this one in the Teacher section or teacher helper section but I was sure I needed to include it. I think “Professional Development for Language Teachers” by Jack Richards and Tom Farrell is a really nice start which offers an overview on a lot of issues (like workshops, journaling, peer observation, team teaching, peer coaching and action research.)
- Although I (unfortunately) never mentioned the book specifically to participants “Contrasting Conversations” by John Fanselow was a very useful resource.
The same Dr. Fanselow has led courses over on #iTDi.
- Another book I have found quite helpful when thinking and talking about Observation and Feedback is “Classroom Observation Tasks” by Ruth Wajnryb.
- A book we used on the course at times was “Tasks for Teacher Education” which served its purpose (although an update would be quite welcome).
- Scott Thornbury’s An A-Z of ELT is always nice to have on the bookshelf as well.
And I could imagine Big Questions in ELT being a handy resource for leading discussions, too.
Some more books that were quite helpful as a trainer on the course are as follows.
- “Trainer Development“ by Tony Wright and Rod Bolitho.
- “Mentor Courses: A resource book for trainer-trainers” by Angi Malderez and Caroline Bodoczky.
- “New Ways in Teacher Education” (edited by Donald Freeman and Steve Cornwell) was also an extremely useful book to have around.