Tag Archives: expectations

“Professional development – that’s what I want!” – #AusELT chat summary, 3rd July 2014

What do we want imageWhat a lively chat about professional development! @cioccas posted some questions for us to think about before the chat and then structured the chat around these. This was a great idea because we could formulate some answers before the chat and this made it easier to post (copy and paste our pre-written ideas) and took the stress off us to constantly type (well, at least that’s what I did!) The questions and issues we discussed are below, and the main comments are summarised.


What do teachers want and expect from PD?

@andrea_rivett posted: “It should be relevant, interesting and get me to think about my own practice.” @Penultimate_K commented that newer teachers wanted direction and skills development and more experienced teachers wanted refinement and innovation. @KateRoss0901 reminded us that some teachers wanted traditional forms of PD such as post-graduate study, seminars and workshops. @sujava and @sophiakhan4 wondered whether all teachers wanted PD. @sujava mentioned that any PD should include a takeaway for use in the classroom as teachers are time poor.

What is PD?

@Penultimate_K reminded us that self-directed PD is often forgotten as a form of informal PD. @KateRoss0901 made the insightful comment that we encourage our students to be self-directed learners but don’t seem to follow this approach in our own PD. @andrea_rivett raised the question of a definition of PD. Is it formal, informal, online, F2F, written, spoken, individual, collaborative, paid, unpaid, teacher-directed, institution-directed? Does it result in a certificate / assessment / observation / some form of classroom practice? Is it private reflection? Who defines it and how do we motivate teachers to participate in it?

@cioccas said that teachers should choose what PD they wanted and that it should be differentiated. @sophiakhan4 recommended we all read Karen Benson and Phil Chappell’s contribution on PD in the English Australia Journal as it deals with a program for differentiated PD.

Expectations around PD

@sujava said that some teachers felt pressed for time and felt that PD was an imposition. @MeredithMacaul1 reminded us of teacher workload as obstacles to attending PD. @cherrymp asked if these things were excuses. @sujava mentioned that some people want to teach / do their job and then go home and @SophiaKhan4 asked if we had unrealistic expectations of teachers. Are people in other professions required / expected to do PD?

A few people mentioned that PD should be provided as part of the job and @aparnajacob said that people expected to be paid as part of PD. Personally, I would expect mandated PD to be paid but anything I was interested in I could pursue myself. It’s always worth putting in a proposal to management to have PD subsidized (e.g. travel and accommodation expenses). Online PD would save costs here but @cioccas has observed that online PD is not always accepted by managers.

What do managers want and expect from teacher PD?

@andrea_rivett said PD was everyone’s responsibility but teachers and managers could suggest, deliver and organise it. @michaelgriffin asked how we can encourage and support teachers to manage their own PD, seek opportunities for PD on their own and become independent learners. This is a question those in management and teacher development constantly grapple with.

 A PD budget

The conversation turned to how to allocate a PD budget. Some recommendations included:

  • any budget for group and individual PD should be aligned to organizational goals
  • teachers who were sponsored by their organisation to attend an event could come back to their campus / college and share what they learned
  • learning institutions could take turns in hosting PD to keep costs down
  • teachers can share delivery (reduced prep time) so a guest speaker is not needed (and therefore no payment required)
  • teachers can put in proposals for external PD conferences and if accepted their college could pay for them to go
  • get staff to deliver PD, everyone votes and the best presenter gets a PD allowance (to attend a conference etc.) with the aim always being to bring back and share the ‘learning’

 Sharing PD opportunities

The conversation then turned to how to share PD opportunities / advertise PD. Some ideas were:

  • Bulletin board, newsletter, group / email list
  • Scoop.It (online magazine), English Australia newsletter

@cioccas asked how information about PD opportunities was disseminated to teachers who weren’t connected and @KateRoss0901 commented that this could be approached from various angles (formal, informal, electronic, spoken, written), which would catch a wider audience. She also commented that employees had a responsibility to develop themselves.

Who participates in PD? Why / why not?

@hairychef asked the pertinent question: “Has the issue of low engagement in highly qualified staffrooms been addressed?” @sujava mentioned PLNs: Facebook, Pearltrees and Twitter and showing people how to sign up. @cioccas mentioned that she has seen little take up of this from teachers even after several attempts.

This prompted the question from @cioccas: “How to encourage and support teachers to manage their own PD, seek opportunities for PD on their own and become independent learners?” @cioccas suggested a series of teacher-led PD sessions, which are starting to take off where she works. @sophiakhan4 mentioned the benefit of having models to inspire and show others what is achievable. She met her models through social media. A few people commented that managers should model best practice.

NB: If interested, you can

What is the role of teachers in their own PD?

 Some suggestions included:

  • to think about what they are interested in vs what they “need” to improve in
  • to run a PD session each – nothing too fancy (30 mins)
  • to do PD in pairs
  • to have active roles in Professional Organisations

Explore here for more ideas on:

What is the role of managers in teacher PD?

 Some suggestions included that managers should:

  • give PD presenting opportunities and responsibilities to teachers
  • have active roles in Professional Organisations
  • model good learning and development (mentoring)
  • use / allocate mentors to promote enthusiasm and commitment

Engagement and feeling valued

The conversation turned to teachers not feeling engaged because they didn’t feel valued and two points were raised. Firstly, do teachers not feel valued because of low self-esteem? Secondly, is the issue here industry baseline standards? Should entry to TEFL be like entry to medicine with the same standards? Would this make teachers more engaged in PD? @hairychef suggested ongoing demand-high teacher training. @KateRoss0901 mentioned that teachers may feel that remuneration didn’t warrant further investment in their careers. @cherrymp suggested we keep working on it that change will come.

On that hopeful note the chat was wrapped up at 9.30pm and we were all left with ideas for moving forward with PD in our centres. I suggest we try some of these ideas and report back from time to time on the AusELT Facebook page.

This post by @sujava


#AusELT chat summary: Dealing with students as ‘clients’ (2nd May, 2013)

This month’s chat was a heartfelt one for those of us who have struggled to walk the line between what (paying) students want/expect and the pedagogical realities of what they need.  Many thanks to first-time summariser Andrea Rivett (@andrea_rivett) for disentangling the key points so neatly. The whole transcript is available on Andrea’s Storify here.

Vintage Balance ScaleThis is a summary of a #AusELT Twitter chat that took place on the 2nd May 2013, 8.30pm AEST. The discussion focused on dealing with students as ‘clients’ in various English language teaching contexts. If you’re keen to find out more about #AusELT, please join the discussion on the first Thursday of the month and join the #AusELT Facebook page. Looking forward to seeing you there soon… 🙂

Teaching contexts represented

The learning and teaching contexts represented in the chat were ELICOS, VET, private schools and schools. Participants were from Australia and Dubai.

Who are the ‘clients’?

It seems that the answer to this question depends on who is asked.  “T’s NEVER call sts “clients” – but to sales/ management they often are. This affects their expectations.” @SophiaKhan4

Other responses included parents, previous learning institutions, future learning institutions and agents.

The big issues in the student/client discussion were seen as:                  

  • Wanting/expecting individualized programmes
  • Different end goals
  • Varying motivational factors
  • What have students been promised (before arrival)?
  • Pressure/blame on teachers for not meeting demands
  • Entry level/needs not appropriate for timing of end goal
  • Financial and emotional investment
  • Lack of student input in regards to their own progress/goals (passive not active learners)
  • Management supporting students’ needs and not teachers’ needs
  • Outside pressures for students – parents, institutions, agents
  • Parents considering teachers as ‘employees’
  • In some cultures it is acceptable to demand and expect more from the teacher


A unified front

“…we do need to manage expectations btween ss/teachers/management” (@NailahRokic)

“…a clear consistent msg from managers & Ts from the start can preempt a lot of problems” (@SophiaKhan4)

“…the college must be consistent with reponse to pressure” (@Eslkazzby)

“Educating sales people, Ts and management about realistic expectations” (@Eslkazzby)Wooden mannequins pushing puzzle pieces into the right place

For the teacher

“We need to consider their previous learning experiences” (@andrea_rivett)

“Managing expectations and regular consistent academic counselling” (@Eslkazzby)

“Sometimes it’s the dynamic/pace in the class so I move students to another class at the same level” (@Eslkazzby)

“U should be able 2 identify & congratulate sts on their strengths & be specific on what needs work.” (@SophiaKhan4)

In regards to testing

“Don’t just accept offshore testing. Test again on arrival. Use speaking test to discuss goals.” (@Penultimate_K)

“We can’t be ruled by exit evals. I do evals every 3 mnths between tests 2 avoid risk of bias.” (@Eslkazzby)

For the learner

“In my experience, if Ts and mgmt can provide clear and specific reasons why, e.g. a student can’t level up, Ss are often satisfied …Ss need to know that professionals are tracking their progress carefully, rather than just letting them languish in wrong class.” (@ElkySmith)

This summary by @andrea_rivett

Update: Further reading

Article on The Conversation website by Geoff Sharock, Program Director at the University of Melbourne: ‘Students aren’t customers…or are they?‘ 9 May 2013. Spotted by Phil Chapell, @TESOLatMQ

Great blog post that will strike a chord with many: “I want to change my level” by Tyson Seburnt (@seburnt)