Do Coursebooks Stop Teachers Developing? (With Dave Weller)

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بواسطة Ross Thorburn and TEFL Training Institute، اكتشفه Player FM ومجتمعنا ـ حقوق الطبع والنشر مملوكة للناشر وليس لـPlayer FM، والصوت يبث مباشرة من خوادمه. اضغط زر الاشتراك لمتابعة التحديثات في Player FM، أو ألصق رابط التغذية الراجعة في أي تطبيق بودكاست آخر.

Check our Dave’s book, Lesson Planning for Language Teachers, at https://amzn.to/31HJtpk

What happens if the important decisions about planning get left to coursebook writers rather than teachers? How much of the coursebook should schools tell teachers to use? And what can you do if your school doesn’t let you deviate from the prescribed materials? Dave Weller, author of “Lesson Planning for Language Teachers” and friend of the podcast discuss.

Ross Thorburn: Welcome back, Dave.

Dave Weller: Hurrah! Nice to be back.

Ross: Thanks. Dave and I were having a conversation a couple of nights ago, and we got talking about teachers uses of materials, right?

Dave: Yes, perhaps in the over‑reliance of materials in the classroom.

Ross: It reminded me of this quote from Ian McGrath, who says, "It's been argued that if teaching decisions are largely based on the textbook and the teacher's book, this has the effect of deskilling the teacher. If the person doing the teaching cedes to the textbook rights have responsibility for planning, he or she gradually loses the capacity to exercise the planning functions."

He says, "The teacher's role is trivialized and marginalized to that of a mere technician." [laughs]

Dave: It seems over my many year's teaching and training, one observation is that when I see teachers who have been encouraged to use, only use and teach from the materials they have. They seem to develop habitual actions in the classroom that they do without thinking without reflection. There is definitely a parallel there between the quotation from the graph that you read.

The teachers executing their plan without really understanding or taking into account some of the learners. [laughs]

Ross: At the same, it's quite obvious from a management point of view, why is a school you'd want to provide as much support as possible for your teachers? Both in terms of maybe getting teachers to teach as many hours as possible. You could minimize the planning. You want to ensure some minimal level of quality.

Dave: Exactly. It comes from a good place to provide more materials, and more support is a wonderful thing for the schools to want to do. Especially from the terms of the quality of the class that the students have. At least if you know the teachers are using materials and following a strict pattern, then at least the students will reach some minimum level.

It seems to be that there's a limit to downsides of perhaps hiring newer or less skilled teachers. It also can limit the upside, I believe, of letting those teachers then develop over time, because they're not allowed to.

Ross: Absolutely. Over the next few minutes, how about we talk about how to find that balance between giving enough support, and then just limiting teachers to technicians?

Dave: Sounds good.

Ross: Great. From what you were describing earlier, obviously every teacher starts off as a new teacher, and every teacher, therefore, needs a lot of...

Dave: I was born ready, Ross.

[laughter]

Dave: Not everyone's Dave Weller, though, are they?

Ross: Obviously, there's an advantage to new teachers getting a lot of support, isn't there?

Dave: Absolutely, yes. We often forget how intense an experience it is for teachers who travel halfway across the world. They're dealing with culture shock, new environments, new colleagues, and they're thrown into the classroom, the day after they arrive, when they still [laughs] have jet lag.

In those situations, there's a lot to be said for the school providing a lot of support for those teachers until they can find their feet.

Ross: I guess typically, what might that look like to describe so we're all on the same page here, something that's becoming more and more common in my experiences is giving the teachers not even like a recipe book, but like a PowerPoint or something to follow that your job as a teacher is to flick through this.

You don't even necessarily even have to read the instructions because they're already on the PowerPoint for you. You might have suggested timings for just about everything, really almost like idiot‑proofing, teaching.

At the extreme end, I've had managers asking me, "Can you write a script for the teachers?" The teachers, all they have to do in the class is read out the script. It's impossible for anyone to teach a bad class.

Dave: That's interesting. Remember, that's with technology. Back in the day, I remember, when I first started, you were given the course book, and that was it. You had to pick things from there. You were given a certain guideline. Maybe each unit takes three lessons. There were six pages, so you do the math.

[laughter]

Dave: You went from there. You had a lot of autonomy over what to choose, how to sequence a lesson, you can move things around. You did have to rely a lot on your more experienced colleagues, which perhaps taught that course. Before, to give you ideas, it encouraged a definite interaction and collaboration, the staff from the people sharing ideas.

Then I remembered a few years later, when maybe an update happened, course books are suddenly accompanied by teachers notes. First, people, the experienced teachers didn't use them at all. I just flicked through and pfft.

[laughter]

Dave: You turned your nose up at the book. We found that newer teachers would arrive and be very, very interested in pulling it out and teaching those lessons, as is until they became used to it. Then they found that they began with collaboration with input from their more experienced colleagues.

They had more interesting ideas to try newer ideas, and they saw the benefit and the effectiveness of those in class. It naturally moved away from the teacher's notes. It's like training wheels on a bike, I guess.

Ross: Obviously, the issue here is if the training wheels remain forever, then...

Dave: Or mandated.

Read the rest of the transcript here

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