What kind of characteristics are necessary in an effective CPD trainer when they are ‘teaching teachers’?  Elizabeth Holmes builds on her first e-bulletin on the subject, and asks EAL advisory teacher Frances Carron for tips on facilitating this kind of development in schoolspdf-5908446

CPD Week info sheet – Facilitating development.pdf

The ‘lighter’ side of life deserves to be taken seriously when considering the facilitation of human success and development.
Matthew Gervais

Facilitating new learning for school staff is certainly a challenging task! As anyone with experience of working with young people will know, bringing out the best in people has delayed results. The full benefit of what we learn today is rarely experienced immediately, but the skilled facilitator will always keep this in mind.

So what makes a great trainer in schools? These six key ideas will help when setting up training and facilitation in your setting:

  • Smart focus – It’s a good idea for trainers to determine whether or not they are going to have to win over hearts or minds, or both. Is the session to be about content and actions or about attitudes? Making this kind of distinction can help to ensure that the session is as focused as possible.
  • Remembering the personal – Keep in mind the fact that training has the potential for personal as well as professional transformation. Combining the two is a great way of moving people forwards with a positive CPD mindset (see last issue).
  • Using needs identification to the max – Helping to generate the feeling of a need to learn is where the trainer’s role really begins. This is partly why needs identification is most usefully done as a whole school exercise, including those who will be involved in delivering training and sharing expertise.
  • Breadth of skills – Just like the teaching of young people, training also involves a wide range of associated skills such as diplomacy, counselling, communication, trustworthiness, confidentiality, group facilitation and so on. Honing the breadth of skills of great trainers is important.
  • Turning tables – Trainers need to develop their own skills as well as those of others so make sure that it’s not the same people doing the training in your school all the time. For every hour spent delivering and facilitating, some time also needs to be spent as a participant.
  • Using freedoms – Training, as opposed to teaching or lecturing to lead to an award, offers relative freedom to engage fully with the needs of the group at any time. When used effectively, this is an immense advantage of the training situation. Make sure that any home-grown trainers fully appreciate this fact! Sometimes the best course of action is to abandon the plan and go with the flow. When the trainer is a skilled practitioner this will present no problems.

Above all else, being able to harness the desire to learn is the key skill that will stand every trainer in good stead. The ease with which it is possible to achieve this in your school will give you useful information about the way in which personal and professional development is generally perceived. Resist making hasty judgements, but do use this information to raise the profile of CPD in your school, however gentle your approach!

Find out more…
For more top tips read our information sheet featuring Frances Carron, EAL (English as an Additional Language) Advisory Teacher for West Sussex County Council.

This e-bulletin issue was first published in November 2008

About the author: Elizabeth Holmes qualified as a teacher at the Institute of Education, London and is the author of several books specialising in the areas of professional development and teacher well-being.