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TEFL Masterclass – Observation And Feedback For The ‘Woke’.

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Training & CPD

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Exclusive Contents

Steve Hirschhorn – Award-winning Teacher Trainer, Former School Principal & Director of TESOL.

Steve Hirschhorn has been teaching and training teachers for around 40 years. He has lectured and delivered workshops from Peru to Japan and most stages in between, going the long way round! Steve has been a Senior Lecturer in Applied Linguistics, school Principal and Director of TESOL; he was External Examiner for three UK universities’ MA TESOL and English Language boards. He has written numerous articles on various aspects of teacher-training, teaching and learning language.

What you will learn

Observation is the bane of teachers’ lives.

The whole system is designed to put fear into the hearts and minds of teachers who are working to achieve the best they can for their students. Observation and feedback has not really been challenged as a system since its inception but now may be the time to do just that. Let’s look at the reasons, the processes, the outcomes and the people involved with this practice.

This workshop will try to dismantle the old habits arguing that for observation and feedback to be of any use, we must re-evaluate what we do, what we expect and what we value.

Workshop Summary

Evolving Educational Observations: Integrating Humanism in Accreditation

This webinar delved into the integration of humanistic observation methods within structured educational frameworks, such as CELTA. The presenter emphasised the gradual shift towards more empathetic and open observation approaches, necessitating a united effort from educators and institutions. This evolution in observation methods also explored potential integration with existing accreditation systems, like those of the British Council, which allows flexibility in observation techniques.

Consistency and Training in Observational Methods

The conversation then touched on the challenge of maintaining consistent observation methods across various organisations and the notable lack of training for observers. This issue brought to light the need for more effective training programs and the introduction of language coaches to enhance the quality of educational observation. Such developments are aimed at supporting educators in balancing systematic requirements with more individualised, humanistic methods.

Addressing Observers and Teachers’ Dynamics

The discussion further explored the dynamic between observers and teachers, especially in cases of disagreement over teaching methods. The presenter suggested that teachers should assert their effective methods with confidence, while observers should foster an environment for self-assessment and growth, rather than imposing their views. One of the panelists underscored the importance of an evidence-based approach to observation, eliminating emotional bias to establish a mutually beneficial and objective evaluation process.

Fostering Openness and Collaboration in Observations

The panel proposed an ‘open-door’ policy in teaching observation, advocating for less formal and more spontaneous classroom visits. This strategy aims to normalise the observer’s presence, reducing stress for teachers and shifting the focus from detailed method scrutiny to overall class effectiveness. In situations requiring evaluative observations, it was advised that observers should be experienced and refrain from influencing the lesson, balancing evaluation with supportive interactions.

Dialogic and Supportive Observation Practices

The discussion concluded with a consensus on the ideal observation practices, emphasising collaboration, support, and open dialogue between observers and teachers. Pre-observation discussions were highlighted as crucial for setting clear expectations and allowing teachers to have a degree of control over the observation process. This approach is viewed as fostering mutual learning and support, beneficial for both parties involved in the educational observation.

Systemic Change and Policy Influence in Education

Finally, the panel stressed the importance of systemic change within the education sector, advocating for influencing policies and training at higher levels, such as the Ministry of Education. This would facilitate the adoption of more effective and empathetic observation practices. The conversation acknowledged the complexities of navigating different educational systems and emphasised the need for continued dialogue and collaborative efforts to drive meaningful change.

Reflective Questions

Have a quick think about the reflective questions below in order to get the most out of the workshop:

  1. How many times have you been observed in the last 12 months?
  2. On a rating from 1-10 (where 10 is max) how useful do you find being watched?
  3. Would you like more or less observation over the next 12 months?
  4. How much warning would you like before being observed?
  • What is a Teacher Observation? (no date) Twinkl.it. Available at: https://www.twinkl.it/teaching-wiki/teacher-observation.

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