Tony Gurr

Is ELT ‘Broken’? – Part 01: Is it the training or the trainers?

In Conferences, ELT and ELL, Teacher Learning, Teacher Training, Uncategorized on 08/05/2017 at 1:21 pm

Telling the truth (TG ver) 080517

I started this post as a bit of a ‘rant’ on FaceBook prompted by a session I did at a conference in Kool, Kalm Kocaelli.

Hulk 01 (TG ver) 080517

 

I asked a simple question:

Is ELT Broken (TG ver) 080517

…and suggested a wide range of reasons why the so-called ‘ELT profession’ is not functioning at optimal efficacy:

The reasons (TG ver) 080517

 

A lot of the participants were a bit gob-smacked at first…but, funnily enough, very few of them disagreed with me!

The Dogs (updated ver) 080517

 

One of the areas I noted was the quality of ‘training’. I didn’t get into the whole Undergraduate Teacher Education or CELTA debate (that would be another 3 to 5 sessions on its own) but noted how so many of our conferences are a total waste of time and how the input/guidance of people that call themselves ‘trainers, consultants and researchers’ is frequently of such low quality – here in canım Türkiyem.

 

Over the past few weeks, I have had the pleasure (or not…) of seeing a wide range of trainers / presenters at an even wider range of events and conferences around the country – and it would not be an understatement to say I am still totally UNDER-whelmed with the knowledge, skills and attitudes of most of these self-proclaimed ‘experts’.

It’s almost as if many of them have never heard the old saying…‘it doesn’t matter what you say about YOURSELF, it’s more important what OTHERS say about you!’

I have decided to be one of these OTHERS…today!

Truthiness Zamanı (updated ver) 080517

 

Now, don’t get me wrong…I’m not saying everyone on the ‘circuit’ (I really hate that phrase, too) is total crap. There are many trainers and presenters that really help conference participants ‘thunk‘ by asking meaningful questions and sharing great hands-on ideas and materials. These real trainers invest serious time in their sessions, work hard to draw on research (quoting sources), combine this with some original insights of their own, and make their materials ‘reader-friendly’ and ‘useful’. They also use humour effectively, demonstrate their wealth of experience and come across as having integrity and/or being authentic human beingsheck, some are even ‘inspiring’ and help teachers ‘motivate themselves’ to be the best teachers they can be.

AND…I’m even happier that more and more of these rock-solid presenters and trainers are Turkish.

BUT, they are few and far between!

 

Sadly, so many of our ‘sages-on-the-stage’ that stand up (and, ohhhh…how they love standing on the stage!) and then tell us to be ‘guides-on-the-side’ simply are NOT good enough!

Yes, there…I said it!

These so-called training experts do not walk their talk, have more ‘ambition’ than ‘talent’, and more often than not spoon-feed teachers junk from the internet!

Hulk 02 (TG ver) 080517

 

I find it’s easier to group these ‘trainers cum consultants cum researchers’ (that’s actually how many tourism businesses describe themselves in canım Türkiyem – restaurant / bar / disco – değil mi)?

 

TYPE 01 – The ‘Fake-it-till-I-make-it’ Trainer

These trainers usually come with a level of training / experience that you could fit on a postage stamp. Often, they tend to be native speakers (but not always) who find the classroom too ‘hard’ and will grab any opportunity to escape a future of ‘kids in the classroom’.

Some of them are actually quite good learners themselves – but frequently fall foul of the ‘read-a-blog-post-and-tell-the-world’ syndrome. Sad really!

Snake Oil Sellers (TG ver) 080517

Many of them are also quite good ‘salesmen’ (or women) – the problem is that many real educators see them for what they are…‘snake-oil sellers’ who can’t quite pull off the authenticity required for a sustained relationship with teachers or schools. This is mostly as they tend to repeat the same tired ‘stories’ again and again and try to build their ‘brands’ (yes, they use this type of language) with teachers via use of pathetic, little one-liners like ‘What did you learn today’? …one-liners they have, in fact, ‘stolen’ from others!

They tend to have the ego the size of a bus…and lack respect for those Turkish teachers that know what it means to really learn a language and ‘earn your stripes’ through years of trying, failing and learning. This ego, however, is so often very fragile…and hides far bigger issues than a lack of ‘real experience’ in teaching.

 

TYPE 02 – The ‘Know-it-all’ Trainer

Sheldon quote (TG ver) 080517

Loathe to refer to themselves as ‘teachers’ or ‘learners’, these trainers have a dusty M.A or PhD somewhere on their CV’s (if the latter, woe betide you if you forget to add the title ‘Dr’ to your conference poster)! However, most of them have done nothing original since they got their beloved bit of paper – indeed, chances are they did nothing original to get the said bit of paper…they certainly would not have obtained their qualifications if they had been in a higher quality, more serious educational environment.

They still hang onto their love affair with the scientific / academic method and fill their slides with stuff even Superman (with glasses) could not read. To make matter worse, they churn out the same ‘tired’ semi-academic PPTs every time they are invited to an event (some use the same ones for bloody years…that having been said, many of the older ELT native speaker ‘hacks’ do the same)!

The more savvy among them have learned how to edit pictures they download from the internet – but frequently do not cite their sources. Indeed, many of these trainers and presenters try to pull off ‘little fibs’ or ‘white lies’…when they say, for example, ‘This is something I prepared’ or ‘…this is what I call…’! –  and lose all credibility with those of us that are in the know (and we are growing as a group – wifi is free with a cup of coffee these days)!

Teacher Learning (Sackstein quote)

Ego is also an issue for these trainers, too – however, it is their inability to recognise (and praise) the strengths of other presenters or presentations that really stands out (if they bother to stay and watch others…they usually don’t…why would they – they know everything). They tend to opt for back-stabbing and passive-aggressive forms of critique – both essentially driven by jealousy and the fear of being discovered for what they really are – mediocre intellects who have also largely avoided the classroom.

Many of these trainers also like to work on themes like ‘motivation’, ‘inspiration’ and other ‘bleeding-edge topics’ in ELT (also forsaking their academic principles and adopting the ‘read-a-blog-post-and-tell-the-world’ just to say its one of my key research interests’) – the problem is these trainers are so dull, so boring and just leave most of us wanting to cut our wrists!

 

TYPE 03 – The ‘Not-quite-there’ Trainer

Wide quote (TG ver) 080517

I almost did not add this group to my list – their hearts are in the right place, they are eager to share with other teachers and they have the ‘humility’ that Type 01 and 02 trainers sadly lack.

Many of them are very experienced (and successful) teachers…BUT, all of their classroom abilities just do not ‘come together’…they do not ‘gel’ – a good teacher does not always a good trainer make! I think Yoda said this…

Sadly, they are encouraged by commercially-driven or vanity-based TTT (Train The Trainer) Programmes that frequently over-promise, under-deliver and do very little ‘screening’!

 

All three types of trainers are ‘real’ (you probably know a couple by name), they live amongst us and they are waiting in the wings to ‘deliver’ their next ‘performance’. The really sad thing is that many of them just lack the interpersonal abilities, emotional intelligence and reflective skills to realise they are just not cutting it.

It’s almost as if they have never heard the (other) sports saying ‘You are only as good as your last game!‘ Many of these guys have been playing the last 5-6 seasons like this…

…and Publishers have been inflicting them on us by continuing to sponsor them! Now, that is what I call really dumb – not good busyness at all!

These trainers and their sponsors just don’t get what Rita Teyze learned us…

Rita Peirson (TG ver) 080517

…and the fact that teachers do NOT really learn from any of these three Types!

 

A worrying trend, however, is the rise of the ‘Type A / Type B Hybrid’ – a presenter that still wants to hang onto the kudos of being a so-called ‘academic expert’ in an area they really know very little about.

The solution?

Bit of ‘googling’, lot of cutting ‘n pasting and maybe a video from YouTube – just to distract the audience from the lack of real content, thought or analysis. And, if this isn’t quite engaging enough, these hybrids might even throw in a magic trick or (God forbid) pull out the musical instrument that just happened to be in their travel bag!

Canım Türkiyem deserves more!

 

The Bottom Line (TG ver) 080517

Time for our schools and teachers to demand more…

Time for sponsors to lift their game…

Time for these trainers to evolve…from ‘KNOW-it-alls’ to ‘LEARN-it-alls’…

– or EXIT…stage right!

Want to Build a GREAT School? Follow These 10 Commandments…

In Educational Leadership, Our Schools, Our Universities, Quality & Institutional Effectiveness on 12/07/2016 at 9:39 pm

LEARNing Monkey (Abigail Adams quote TG ver)

This was the post that I planned to use to re-launch my bouts of bloggery this summer…

 

In the end I went with an ‘easier’ option…because it was so bloody difficult to plan, draft and finish! I started by reflecting on all the schools I had worked with this year…and all the ways I had tried to support their plans and initiatives (an ‘annual’ review, if you will).

 

It wasn’t enough! So…I went back 5 years (and almost every blog post I had ever written)…still didn’t quite cut it!

Blogging sucks (sign)

I found myself going back to the work of EDU Jedi Masters and their discussions of ‘what works in schools’…combining this with the THUNKS of those that helped me consider ‘what matters in schools’…and, reflecting on all the pearls of wisdom I had picked up from the school improvement, accreditation and institutional enhancement programmes I had worked on.

exploding head

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That got me closer (but I had close to thirty pages of notes) – it was time for a procrastination pill!

Netflix Pill TG ver 100716

In the end, I decided to do a ‘career review’ – yes, reflect on the successes I had witnessed and LEARNed from, all my failures (because they helped me more than the successes I may have had and helped co-create) and all things I still have on my EDU Bucket Listafter over 30 years in the busyness of LEARNing.

 

The listicle of my ‘Magic 10’ Commandments started to take shape…but then the last episode of this year’s Game of Thrones forced me to binge-watch the earlier 50 episodes!

Procrastination (dice now never later)

What? I’m on holiday, too!

 

So…just to prove that all those quotes you can pull up (if you google ‘procrastination’) are hogwashhere you go:

IMAGE CREDIT: https://creativetheology.files.wordpress.com/2013/05/10-commandments.jpg

If you want to build a GREAT school…

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Thou Shalt ‘begin with the end in mind’ and ensure that your school is built on a focussed and clearly stated purpose – and make sure that all members of the school community understand, share and are committed to this purpose and the goals of the school…

Purpose CoP TG ver 100716

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Thou Shalt believe in the transformative power of LEARNing, place LEARNing at the heart of your decision-making and walk-your-talk…

Change and Thinking TG ver 100716

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Thou Shalt recruit the best TEACHers you can, retain them (at all costs) and renew their talents, skills and knowledge at every opportunity you find…

Good School (quote) TG ver 100716

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Thou Shalt plan, implement and renew a curriculum / assessment framework that emphasises LEARNing the ‘right’ things in the ‘right’ way…

Delivering LEARNing TG ver 100716

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Thou Shalt provide caring and effective leadership, create the conditions for wider shared-, teacher-, and student-leadership – and evaluate the quality of this leadership in terms of the level of trust you build and the amount of LEARNing co-created across the school…

Leadership TG ver 100716

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Thou Shalt create an environment and climate that is organised, secure and safe – yet provides for risk-taking, creativity and imagineering at the student, classroom, departmental and school level…

Success TG ver 100716

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Thou Shalt create a culture that is driven by professionalism, collaboration, and stakeholder involvement – and is fuelled by an ethos of feedback, improvement and results… Leader Shadow TG ver 100716

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Thou Shalt build and maintain a classroom-focussed LEARNing culture grounded on high expectations for both students and TEACHers, dialogic TEACHing practices and an approach to the adoption of EdTech driven by ‘fitness-for-purpose’ and ‘LEARNing first, TECHnology second’… 

8

Learning WoG TG ver 100716

8

Thou Shalt adopt a research and evidence-based approach to change and planning – and balance the use of external best practices and internal research findings, as well as ‘big’ and ‘small data’…

EBP TG ver 100716 

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Thou Shalt use a range of policies, processes, and practices designed to evaluate and enhance the quality of decision-making, curriculum and assessment systems, classroom teaching, professional learning communities, allocation of resources, and stakeholder involvement across the school…

Quality TG ver 100716

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That’s 10, right?

 

As I was boiling all the Commandments down, I did ask myself whether I need to ‘spell them out’ more. I hope they are clear…as I hinted, they are all backed by solid research and evidence-based practice (EBP) – but I have seen them ‘work’ and know they ‘matter’!

 

Can I rank them – in terms of importance or priority? Not really – but I’d be interested to see how you might…or (even more) see if you would add any others…

 

T..

 

 

The 2016-17 EDU, ELT/ELL and EDTECH Conference Calendar for Canım Türkiyem…Ver 1.0

In Conferences, ELT and ELL, Teacher Learning on 03/07/2016 at 11:17 am

And…here’s you guys thinking I had died…passed on…ceased to be…expired…gone to meet my maker…kicked the bucket…shuffled off my mortal coil!

 

No such luck…

Tony (logo new) 260316 ACG

…is very much alive and kicking!

 

Having strayed from the path of light (OK…not as much as Kylo Ren) and avoided me bouts of bloggery for as long as I have, I thought I’d re-launch the ‘ole blog with one of the best-selling, regular posts that seems to have been missed the most…esp. over AY2015-16 (so, please stop mailing me and sending FB hate-messages)!

 

As a fair few of you have noted, Canım Türkiyem has still not come up with a way to keep all of us (consistently) informed of the major EDUevents taking place in a given year – so, I guess, it still falls to me…

 

Problem is that…I have jumped the gun a wee bit! There are not many confirmed for 2016-17…good job this is only VER 1.0 and also that I will update the post as soon as I hear of any others.

 

As usual, I’ll kick off with the specific events here in Canım Türkiyem – before moving onto the International (and Regional) BIG BOYS…yani, those conferences that are far too far away (and too expensive for most of us to get to) …unless we work for an EDUorganisation that sends all its TEACHers on an international ‘jolly’ (while all the administrators / managers stay back at home to look after the shop)!

 ELT & ELL Conf Calendar (TG ver)

Here we go…

 

 

  • DATE: Sept 08 – 10
  • LOCATION: Boğaziçi University – Istanbul, Turkey.
  • EVENT/THEME: ITHET 2016 – The 15th International Conference on Information Technology Based Higher Education and Training
  • CONTACT/SITE: http://www.ithet.boun.edu.tr/ 

 

 

 

  • DATE: March 04
  • LOCATION: Radisson Blu Hotel – Istanbul, Turkey
  • EVENT/THEME: EdTech Summit (Eğitim Teknolojileri Zirvesi)
  • CONTACT/SITE: www.edtechturkey.com 

 

Canım Türkiyem (TG Ver 03)

 

As promised…the BIG BOYS! I’ve even added a couple of flipping good ideas for holidays in the States (if you have not made plans, yet)!

 

 

 

 

 

 

As ever, if you overhear a whispered conversation in a dark car park…let me know and I’ll get it up onto VERSION 1.1 – coming soon to a server near you!

 

T..