Prior to starting work in our school, all teachers receive a full day’s induction. This provision is mandated by the organisation and delivered by the school’s Centre Manager and Director of Studies (DoS).
As a system, my biggest concern is that we are providing too much key information for teachers to process in such a short time period. If the information passed over is important but difficult to absorb fully, ‘we run the risk of appearing unprofessional; the new teacher will find it difficult to perform well initially and will become deservedly frustrated’, which invariably reflects badly on the management (Impey & Underhill 1994 p.66).
In the run up to summer, the organisation writes/updates job specific handbooks which are emailed to staff after contracts have been signed. As a criticism, they are never completely centre specific and as you would imagine, invariably text heavy. Looking towards a viable solution, I made a number of animated explainer videos, which are e-mailed to teachers prior to their arrival, dealing with some key aspects of teachers’ work in summer school. They cover areas which are specific to our context and bolster the most salient points in the teacher’s manual. However I would argue that any visual media serves its purpose better than any written handbook. ‘It is arguably ‘a far more ‘natural’ and effective way of providing training…[unlike]…writ[ing] out…instructions verbose’ (Stannard 2014 p.162). Perhaps we should consider dispensing of all written manuals totally.
Ideally, we should be thinking about developing a Moodle platform which incorporates a variety of visual media types e.g. explainer videos and ways to formatively check understanding and recycle some of the more salient points. The pace at which someone works is individual and would only need to be complemented by a face-to-face group question and answer session to clarify anything not understood. Essentially, this process would replace the 6-hour face-to-face induction session which, on reflection, is questionably effective.
If we strive to make learning learner centred we should practise what we preach in all aspects of our work. As it currently stands induction is mostly teacher (or DoS!) centred with a largely passive audience. Implementing change would see the focus shift to the group taking more of an active role. The aim is to clarify understanding, but the agenda is fixed by what teachers need to know.
Similarly, learning is not one-sided. It allows the DoS to see trends in the frequency of questions. This should then inform management on which areas of induction training need to be developed to improve understanding before teachers arrive at summer school.
Impley. G & Underhill. N. 1994. The ELT Manager’s Handbook. 1st edition. Heinemann.
Stanard. R. 2014. Innovations in the continuous professional development of English language teachers. 1st Edition. British Council.
Underhill A. 2004. The Learning School. Humanising Language Teaching_Year 6, Issue 1. Retrieved: 22/07/2018 from: https://lamsig.iatefl.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/4-Underhill-Learning-school.pdf