I’ve been working hard on something that has been “pregnant” for several years – a teacher training (TEFL) certificate. As many will know, I really want “quality” when it comes to teaching, I really want content and the profit model put in its proper place when it comes to education. We have so many new teachers entering the profession and I think it a damn crime that so many companies “prey” upon these teachers. I disagree that you have to “pay” X amount to get to know how to teach. My own many years of experience tells me one great fact behind the whole “teacher training” business. The most important thing is a mentor, a good situation, support and envirnoment in those first few months…..

Further to this, the online degrees as created just don’t cut it. They are basically very simplistic. Fill in the blanks, do a quiz and then get your diploma (oh yeah, pay $200-1,000 dollars please!). The main ingredient is missing and one which makes all professional development effective – mentorship/leadership. Experienced teachers leading, supporting and bringing new teachers into a community. There is missing, a social support system for training new EFL / ESL teachers.

Cochran-Smith (1999) writes,

” ….the most promising ways of learning about teaching across the professional lifespan are based on inquiry within communities rather than training for individuals.”

So, to that end, I’m busy. Check out the very beginnings of our teacher training page. I talked of this kind of open source course about 2 years ago and it has continued on and off as just that – talk. So finally I want to do something about it. Some one has to pick up the reins and get the horse to some water!

What I envision is this,

1. A public catalogue of open source information about teaching (videos / ppts / articles / webpages) with both Required and Suggested readings. [this I've already created and will further refine, using the Univ. of Oregon's public - "Shaping the Way we teach" videos / modules. I've deleted links, added many , refined the modules and tried to bring this dead but well intentioned program to life]

2. Create quizzes for each module. Create brief assignments for each module.

3. Start a blackboard or moodle where those wanting to do the course can register. Anyone can do the course free but if you want mentorship and a certificate, you will have to pay after the 3rd module. ANYONE can register and do the module, readings, quizzes for free. The amount paid will be minimal — the whole idea is to pay a minimal amount to ensure that teachers take pride in their work/effort.

4. All teachers beyond assignments, will do an online tutorial and send video/audio of how they would teach given the presented material. This would be recorded and assessed by mentors.

5. Those who sign up to the course will be assigned a “mentor” who will mark their assignments and give feedback. These will be master teachers who have years of EFL experience. Mentors will be paid.

6. Get a certificate (name of the certificate to be forthcoming)

7. Possibly in the future the certificate would be accepted as credits to graduate courses, given its completeness.

I’d love to know your thoughts about this model. Will it work, what ways might it work better ? etc…. What it does try to accomplish is to avoid the “blind leading the blind” which is too often the case in TEFL. Even in teacher training, the trainers many times have little experience and aren’t really the best candidates. Online, we can avoid this and harness the power of our profession.

I’m also looking for great articles, videos , necessary reading that you feel a beginning teacher should read, take in. Please post here anything of note. I’ve put up all my preferred links but will be changing and refining them in the future…learning never stops, even for the teacher :)

I envision a start date in August. Slow but sure. Everything is Always Under Construction. We are a work of art, not a thing of stone!

David