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Props, Supports and Prescriptions.

April 26, 2012

As teachers, as trainers, as people in this world, what are we to those around us? Are we there to guide? To lead? To tell? To insist?

It’s a dangerous assumption to make that we, as educators, are here to mould those we work with into our own vision of what makes a good teacher or a perfect variety of English, or even the best type of learner.

I have written about this before, about this element of control which we must be so careful not to take advantage of in our work as teacher educators, but I have been brought back to thinking about this once again, and I find it hard not to get passionate about my belief that we are definitely not here to control, but to guide, to aid development, to enable, not to proscribe, prescribe or insist.

As a language learner, we need to be shown how to construct language in order to be understood. There are many arguments and opinions on the best way to do this, as we all know. In my opinion, Top-Down, teacher-centred, uncommunicative teaching leads to students being afraid of the Third Conditional and totally obsessed with the Present Perfect.

As a trainee teacher, we need to be guided towards options of how to teach. We need to be allowed to try things out that maybe our tutors wouldn’t ever do themselves, but can see that it might work for us. Our tutors need to be open to our suggestions, because we do have them, we can have them and we need to have them in order to grow. What we don’t need is too much rigidity, we need space. We need trust from our tutors. We need to be able to become the best teacher we can be, not the best teacher our tutors want us to be.

As a member of teaching staff, we need to have the respect and trust from those who manage us. We need to be supported in what we are doing in the classroom, guided towards development opportunities that work for us in our context. Allowed to test things out, to suggest new ideas and have them listened to, to be able to take part in the development of not only ourselves, but our colleagues too, safe in the knowledge that we have the backing of the management team.

We are all different, and that’s what makes this world so exciting, so as educators, let’s embrace those differences and allow them a place in our classrooms, on our training courses and in our schools.

Without this space to be who we are, we are destroying the vast array of opportunities that the world makes possible, and what a shame that would be.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. Emi Slater permalink
    April 26, 2012 12:15 pm

    Jemma, this is great. This so much needs to be said. Say it, say it and say it again. It’s that trust from tutors that is so needed when teachers first train. I have been teaching for 9 years and I am only now beginning to feel confident enough to really go for things in my own way. I was afraid before having had it drummed into me so much about what we should/shouldn’t do in class.

    • April 29, 2012 5:08 am

      Exactly, Emi. We have all (mostly) had it drummed into us at some point tyhat there is a best way to do things. We are individuals. We need to be and we have to be. We are not here to tell, we are here to enable learning.
      I can’t wait to have you come and watch me teach. Can I come and watch you too, please?

  2. April 29, 2012 4:53 pm

    Really nice post. Not much else to say really, other than I couldn’t agree more. Lets hope that this becomes the norm soon. I’m lucky enough to be able to work in such an environment, but fear the day when I work in a place where this might not be the case and I am forced to teach in a way that I know is not benefiting student or teacher.

    • April 30, 2012 8:19 pm

      Hi Adam,
      Thanks for your comment, glad you agree with what I have said. I am currently facing what I think could be the turning point of my career so far, and will definitely be the most challenging. Where I work, there is what seems at times to be chasm of difference between my beliefs about teaching and the way in which the teacher training course is run. In my teaching, I am free to be who I want to be and I am trusted, just as I wrote one should be. However, I feel that I am about to have to bite my tongue and stick out some tough few weeks as a trainer in order to gather enough information and justification to make the changes that I see as necessary in order to bring our teacher training course into the 21 century. I don’t mean to make it sound so dramatic, but I am gonna need the support of my PLN throughout this time if I am to make the most of the chance I have here to make a difference. It’s very exciting, but scary nonetheless.

      Watch this space!


  3. April 29, 2012 5:21 pm

    Here here Jem.

    There’s nothing that puts me off a job like lots of folders of worksheets and LPs for every lesson. It’s almost like they don’t trust you but would I do the same?? Well, I may be about to find out as a friend wants me to create some courses for other teachers who don’t know the topic. It’s impossible for me to teach them all they need to know to make informed decisions so I guess I do need to provide quite a lot but I like options and space and trust so I’ll try and build that in. I hope…

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