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A TEFL Trainer – Ofsted Quality Assurance

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(1011 words)

Quality Assurance is a high priority for the company I work for. First of all, the students are our customers, so the company’s aims revolve around giving a high standard product that leaves the students feeling they made the right move to choose our company’s second language teaching course. For this piece of writing, I will outline some of the provisions my company and I have/use to not only keep the quality high but also to gain knowledge for improvement.

To promote equal opportunities

The courses I teach have students from many backgrounds, countries, and of varying ages. It is my job to accept all these people as achieving the goal of passing the course and being involved.  For example, on the last course, there was a woman from Poland who was 28, an 18 year Englishman who was just taking his A levels, and an older Englishman of about 55 years of age. Taking these three as an example, they all had their reasons to be there, and the only way for them to pass the course was to work together as a group and as individuals.  To promote this combination, my first job as their teacher trainer, as soon as they arrive, is to welcome them and get them introduced to each other, so they feel part of the group and they get the chance to meet each other. During the course, there are many pair-work and group-work activities, so it is my job to encourage collaboration between these kinds of people whatever their background. I promote peer and group evaluation where students constructively help each other. Eventually, when they come to complete their practice teaching in pairs there is encouragement from all the class towards a successful conclusion.

 To identify, understand and learn from the factors which facilitate or hinder the students

The course has set modules, but within that, in my job as a trainer, I still have to make the students confident and knowledgeable about teaching a second language. In this respect, formative assessment is taken after each module to give feedback to the trainer, and for the students to be able to discuss how the course is progressing and their grasp of the facts so far. For example, one formative assessment has each of the students choosing to stand in a particular corner of the room which relates to their experience and knowledge of the class they just had. One corner may have the statement, ‘I have a question’. The students who stand in this corner have a chance to discuss issues they may have. They are then told to write down some questions they may have which are then discussed with the trainer and the rest of the group. The trainer can take away this assessment to improve on the next lesson while the students have been given a platform to voice their problems (good or bad). The reason for writing their ideas is that the trainer can take away the material and assess it to see for improvement.

Post Course Feedback from students

Once the students’ course is complete, they are sent a feedback form where they are given chance to comment on the course and the trainer that delivered the course content.  That feedback is collated by my company and discussed with them internally. If need be I am contacted and made aware of issues that the students had or content that was valuable for the students. Correspondence is always made between myself and my manager post-course to discuss issues.

To set and achieve high standards and targets across all provision 

For the 20 hours of study, a scheme of work and lesson plans are written detailing all aspects of the course. This makes provision for the encouragement of active learning while giving available time for the students to practice their teaching and discuss material. There are also resources for the students to use and contemplate over that show course content. The trainer also uses Prezi presentation facility to help students understand the content clearly.

Observation (form and feedback)

Over the 20 hours of study, the students complete two practice teaching lessons. They are given help in completing their lesson plans by the trainer. This sets them on the right path while lesson stages are discussed. This puts them in good stead for performing for the first time in front of the class. Once they start their practice teaching they are observed by the trainer who completes an observation form. This form is given to the students which includes all stages and the techniques they used in their lesson as well as comments on how they performed. There are also comments on what may need to be changed in their next practice teaching. This form is given to them for them to contemplate over and ask questions if need be. Also, after their teaching is finished as a group there is a feedback session where students can make comments on what they liked, and maybe what they would change. I feel this gives the students a holistic picture of where they are at with the course and their teaching.

Facilities for learning (To provide a safe environment)

The students are first welcomed outside the class. Coffee, tea, and biscuit are provided nearby. The students have seats and two sofas, so they can relax before the course starts. At times when there is a break, these facilities are used. The classrooms are adequate for the 15 to 20 students there are. There is a good size screen for the projector for the students to observe the course content. The table and chairs are put into a U shape which encourages discussion. The heating in the room is put on before the students arrive, so once they have had their coffee they are welcomed into the warm classroom. The provision for food is excellent as below the classroom there is a restaurant, and within 3 minutes walk, there is a newsagent and a Tesco store that sells less expensive food (sandwiches, crisps, and drinks).

Giving and Receiving Feedback, It Will Never Be Easy But It Can Be Better

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(633 Words)

I think at times teachers can have a little trouble with receiving and giving feedback. Their feedback skills could be said to need a little practice. I think this is important because as a teacher you will need feedback from your students to tell you if they like your teaching. Also, the students will want feedback on their learning. Each piece of feedback needs a positive, constructive base.

A first reaction, when thinking about feedback, may well be to go on the defensive when it is given. On the defensive, I mean that you are not really listening to the person giving the feedback. The point is feedback is information that can be heard by the receiver as evidenced by the fact that they do not go on the defensive. I agree that feedback has great value but only to us if we can let the feedback in and effectively use it.

There is also ineffective feedback. These are judgmental statements and can upset people. During a reflection, a teacher was told they were talking too much in class but the observer seemed to forget to look at the students who were fine with this talking. Other people said it was a lower level, and the students did not talk much anyway. Would you feel bad for the teacher? Was the observer too opinionated?

Another aspect is getting feedback but not using the experience as a positive move forward. The observer is just making a comment. The teacher needs to ask them such questions as  ‘Why’? and ‘What do you think is better?’ For future actions, a teacher should take the time to realize that they could be wrong and that they should take in the information (feedback) that has been given. They should ask for clarification and realize that it is not a battle, and the comment is to help. They should reply with what they think. Thus hopefully getting a discussion going.

Moreover, the information that is given in the feedback can be shut out. Teachers sometimes lack the skills to send and receive feedback. For example, a teacher thought of a lesson plan idea and mentioned it to another teacher. Basically, they were told that the lesson plan was off-target because the lesson was not student-centred thus in the lesson plan the teacher would speak more which they are not supposed to do. The problem was that the teacher had thought about this lesson for a long time and had it planned. Now the first reaction, when they were told it was off-target, was to get a little angry. They felt as though it was an attack against them personally. Maybe they felt as though they were not good enough; their ideas were not good enough. So, they felt a bit sorry for themselves. One idea could be to say, “shall I forget about that lesson plan?’ and if they said ‘yes’, say to them “what do you think then?” or “how can I develop it?” The teacher could have asked why they thought it was off-course and what ideas the teacher should think of. The teacher should have got to the bottom of their thinking as they might think up another lesson plan like this and have the same trouble again.

In conclusion, a teacher’s acceptance of feedback does not mean that they need to always act on it. The feedback should have been encouraging, helpful, and given with clarity. If so, then the teacher needs to consider the feedback, and decide how, if at all, they wish to act upon it.  This is strictly their choice, but it is important to bring to mind that the person giving the feedback felt strongly enough that they mentioned it. Let’s face it, how would you react in any given feedback situation?

SIT TESOL Course – Reflection on an Article

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Giving and Receiving Feedback – It Will Never Be Easy But It Can Be Better By Larry Potter

(612 words)

This is a commendable article for me as I think at times I recognise that it is hard to receive and give feedback. It could be said that most people’s feedback skills could be said to need a little practice. I think this is important because as a teacher you will need feedback from your students to tell you if they enjoyed and comprehended your teaching. Also, the students will want feedback on their learning. Each will need a positive, constructive base. 

After reading the article, my first reaction is to think of myself who usually goes on the defensive when given feedback. The defensive, I mean that you are not really listening to the person giving the feedback. Larry Potter alludes to this point; he defines feedback as ‘information that can be heard by the receiver as evidence by the fact that he/she does not go on the defensive’. I agree with Larry Potter that feedback has ‘great value’ but only ‘to us if we can let the feedback in and effectively use the information’. I do like this sort of article because I can identify with points in the article that coincide with myself. An example would be when Larry describes Ineffective feedback as ‘judgmental statements’. I think I can give judgmental statements and upset people. I recently said a teacher was talking too much in class but forgot to look at the students who were okay with his talking. Other people said this is only level 2, the students do not talk much. I felt a bit bad for talking about the teacher. I think maybe I was too opinionated. Also, I think I get feedback a lot but may not use the experience, as I should. Maybe I think they are just making a comment and I don’t really ask them such questions as  ‘Why’? ‘What do you think is better?’ I think after reading this article on feedback for future actions I should take time to realize that I could be wrong and that I should take in the information (feedback) that has been given. I think I should ask for clarification and realize that it is not a battle and the comment is to help and I should reply with what I think. Thus hopefully getting a discussion going. 

The information that is given in the feedback can be ‘shut out’ as Larry Potter says. We ‘lack the skills to send and receive feedback’. I agree with this point as I had a situation the other day. I thought of a lesson plan and mentioned it to a teacher and basically, I was told that it was wrong because the lesson wasn’t student-centered thus in the lesson plan the teacher would speak more which he or she is not supposed to do. The problem with me was I had thought about this lesson for a long time and had it planned. Now my first reaction when I was told it was wrong was to get a little angry, I felt as though it was an attack against me. Maybe  I felt as though I was not good enough, my ideas were not good enough. So I felt a bit sorry for myself. I think the best idea would be to say ‘shall I forget about that lesson plan’, and if she said ‘yes’, say to her ‘what do you think then? I could have asked her why she thought is wrong and what ideas I should think of. I think I should have got to the bottom of my thinking as I might think up another lesson plan like this and have the same trouble again.