For many reasons, the Cambridge CELTA is not the be-all end-all of teacher training. For one thing, not all teachers feel that they are ready—financially, logistically (even emotionally!)—to take the CELTA. Such a commitment in time, energy, money, and intellectual resources happens once in a lifetime, and obviously one shouldn’t have to wait until the correct confluence of the stars to get some high-quality teacher training.
More importantly, though, in my opinion, the CELTA should be considered the first (quite big) step towards becoming a reflective, accomplished, and effective teacher of English as a foreign language.
The purpose of our WI-EFA teacher training project is to help teachers take the following (never-ending) steps in a cheap (cost-free), interactive, fun, and convenient way.
Teacher Training is Free—if you Do it Yourself!
The idea of offering further teacher training to CELTA graduates (as well as to those who have not taken the course) has been on my brain, so to speak, for years now. There were two inter-related problems we consistently ran into, though: first of all, being based in Meknes, face-to-face training isn’t an option—for the simple reason that we would like to reach many more teachers than just our (wonderful) Meknessi colleagues; and second of all, teachers will almost never pay for online training anymore unless they receive an international certificate for it. But how could we afford to pay qualified trainers to provide free online training?
The answer is that we don’t need to pay our trainers if they too are getting trained for free in return. Our bold, innovative step towards offering free, high-quality teacher training came from the realization that, if we work together in goodwill, money doesn’t need to be part of the picture anymore. Our qualified teacher trainers will be our own former trainees—alumni from our own CELTA courses who will do research, reflect on their own practice, experiment with their classrooms, and share with the wider EFA community the fruits of their labor.
While EFA alumni will (initially) be the ones producing the webinars, they will of course be made freely available to all teachers (or would-be teachers) of English worldwide.
Empowerment Through Action
I love birds, but I also love hitting two birds with one stone. Our EFA-WIN will not only help further the training of EFL teachers around the world, it will also reproduce the kind of flat structure that I believe is the key to both empowering teachers and effective, long-lasting professional development.
Research has proven that the attending occasional input sessions (or Inssets) has a powerful one-off effect… that wears off in weeks, with teachers returning, more often than not, to their old methods. Perennial professional development comes when teachers feel that they are a part of a community that they are responsible for, and which is also responsible for them. By working autonomously, collaboratively on preparing teacher training sessions for their community, teachers will feel the eyes of the community on them when they return to the classroom.
Teachers will attend webinars, learn, try to implement what they’ve learned… and then report back to their community on the obstacles, challenges, and (hopefully) success of putting what they have learned into practice. Training begins with the webinar, but it doesn’t end there!
The Notion, the Reflection and the Practice
For this to work, of course, it is essential to be using the right platform, and that platform is Notion. This collaborative online tool is where groups will coalesce around a particular idea for a webinar, or where an individual teacher will announce his or her intention to run a webinar on their own. For collaboration purposes, each webinar will have its own Teamspace to discuss ideas, share resources, and assign roles. There is also a calendar where anyone can reserve a spot as a webinar trainer (or group of trainers).
Once the webinars have been completed, further discussions will take place on the same platform about how the methods and techniques learned in the webinar fared in the real world. Are there contexts that are redhibitory to these techniques? Are there tricks you’ve come up with to make them work better? Are there ways to expand on and further develop the methods for other purposes? By sharing the answers to these questions, reflection continues to grow hand-in-hand with practice, to produce the highest quality teaching there can be.
The Who, the What, and the When
EFA-WIN is all about teachers training teachers in a spirit of collaboration, mutual aid, and celebration of our profession. The focus will always be on the practical aspects of things, presenting tools and techniques that can be brought immediately into your classrooms.
The webinar topics will be chosen by the trainers themselves. So far, interest has been expressed in the following topics: Podcasts in the classroom; Exam prep; Integrating phonology in the classroom; the Moroccan ELT context; Helping students practice speaking skills; Teaching YLs without resorting to the use of their L1s; Using AI for lesson planning; and much, much more!
Right now, webinars have been scheduled to take place on the second Sunday of each month. If demand picks up, though, we will definitely be expanding to other days as well. We’ll be using Notion to collaborate before and after the sessions, and Zoom for the sessions themselves.
If you’re interested in attending, but not developing webinars yourselves, we’ve created a WhatsApp group for you to join. Just write to us on WhatsApp (at +212 689-526221) or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.