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close this bookTeacher Training: a Reference Manual (Peace Corps, 1986, 176 p.)
close this folderChapter 1 what a teacher trainer needs to know
close this folderConsiderations in designing a training program
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentDefining program goals and
View the documentSelecting topic areas
View the documentDesigning learning activities
View the documentTraining rhythm and flow
View the documentIncorporating program evaluation
View the documentAnalyzing training constraints

(introduction...)

Now that you have considered ways adults learn, you have the tools necessary to begin designing your training program. This section is primarily addressed to those who are responsible for designing informal or in-service training programs and curriculum. Teacher trainers based at national teacher training colleges may, however, find helpful suggestions for how to adapt the curriculum they have been given to better meet the needs of their learners.

The following is one model that can be used to design training programs. It is intended to be a guide that can be modified or adapted as you see fit and as the situation requires. It is based on six steps:

1. Carrying out a comprehensive needs assessment
2. Defining program goals and objectives
3. Selecting topic areas
4. Designing learning activities
5. Analyzing the program time flow and rhythm
6. Incorporating program evaluation
7. Analyzing training constraints

You have already spent some time conducting (or thinking about how you would conduct) a needs assessment of your teachers. The remaining steps will either be discussed in detail in this section or, where appropriate, you will be referred to other sections of the manual that cover a related topic.

Defining program goals and

Objectives

Once the needs assessment has been carried out and the data analyzed and evaluated, you must determine what your program is going to be about. This is the step of setting goals and objectives. It is upon these that the content of the program will be based. As the process of setting of goals and objectives for a teacher training program is similar to that for designing classroom curriculum, it is suggested that you see the section in Chapter 2, Instructional Objectives.

Selecting topic areas

One of the most common mistakes made in the design of any training program is trying to do too much. Your needs assessment will have turned up many potential topics and needs. Relax. You do not need to do everything at once in one program. The key to this step is the ability to prioritize.

The first thing you need to do with the 'raw' data you have collected is to organize it into similar content areas. Then rearrange the aspects or points within that content areas into a list, placing the most important areas at the top and the least pressing at the bottom (as you do this remember that all of the data collected in a needs assessment are important to someone). Next, use the same method to prioritize topics within each of the content areas, listing the ones of most immediate training importance at the top. Now step back and look at it, asking and answering the following questions:

° How long will this training program last?

° Is it the only one, or will you have the opportunity to conduct future training programs?

° Do you want to talk in detail about only one content or topic area (e.g. a whole one week training on student assessment) or do you want to address several different topics during the course?

° What is most appropriate at this point in time for both the trainees and the situation in which they find themselves?

Having answered these questions, select the topics for possible inclusion in this training program, and note how much time you wish to spend on each (e.g. a two-hour session, a whole day).

Designing learning activities

Now that you have decided what you want to teach, you must decide how you are going to teach it. As noted above in the section on Adult Learning, adults learn best when the content is directly related to their reality and based on their own experiences. As a teacher trainer there is a whole 'tool kit' of learning activities available from which to choose. Though talks or lectures are often helpful to get across specific content, eight hours a day of lectures for one week will drive your trainees to distraction or sleep! It is crucial, therefore, to design your learning activities to include a variety of experiential learning techniques.

In the following section are some basic techniques used in training. Look at these and then look at your prioritized list of content topics to be included in the training program. Begin to match content areas with training techniques considering, for instance, whether it is better to use a case study to teach that point or a role play. It is up to you to decide how to write your lesson plan for each session, but an acceptable format has been included in the Appendix for your information.

Training rhythm and flow

As you begin to match learning activities with your content topics, you must keep in mind how they will all go together. Though these considerations are not as important if you are planning an afternoon or even a one day training, they become crucial for any program that lasts for several days or weeks.

The key to a successful design is the ability to balance a variety of variables. After an initial selection of learning activities, begin to place your activities on a timeline for the period your training is to last. As you do this, consider the following:

° High energy vs. low energy: Each day has its high energy and low energy times. High energy times are when participants are refreshed and energetic; low energy times are when you are trying to keep everyone awake. Mornings tend to be high energy and afternoons low, particularly in hot countries with a tradition of heavy mid-day meals and afternoon siestas! (Don't ever try to do a heavy, theoretical lecture after lunch when it's 90 degrees outside! During the week there are also high and low energy times. There is no way to avoid these times, but a good trainer designs a program keeping them in mind. Do your theoretical sessions in the morning, with the most intense ones early in the week. Then in the afternoons, and even in the time just before lunch, have active, doing sessions; small group work, role plays, case studies, etc. If it is possible to include a field trip or site visit, do it on a Wednesday afternoon to break up your week.

° Academic vs. experiential: People learn best not by hearing, but by doing. While it is important for the trainees to learn specific or technical content, be sure to also include activities that involve them in the use of this content. Vary your techniques so that they address each part of the learning cycle (see Adult Learning) and remember that, ultimately, five days of role play can be just as deadly as five days of lecture!

° Large groups vs. small groups: 80th large group and small group sessions have advantages. Large group sessions are good for lectures or demonstrations when you want everyone to get the same information. Small groups are best for discussions and individual participation. Many participants who would never speak in front of a large group of people are very willing to share their experiences or questions with only sex or seven others.

° In class vs. out of class: If possible, try to include field trips and site visits. These are important not only because they give the needed change of pace pointed out above, but also because they bring a reality factor into the training. If the training is too abstractly theoretical, participants may fear that though the ideas presented are good ones, they could never implement them.

° Serious vs. fun: While you want your training program to be taken seriously by participants, this does not mean that it cannot be fun. Include celebrations in your design, especially the opening and closing of the program. If it is a residential program consider how the evenings will be spent; are there movies, town trips, special dinners? If the program is a week or two in length, make sure to included recreational or sports activities. Incorporate something light or fun in each session, even if it is only a two-minute icebreaker.

° Vary the learning environment: Change space as often as possible, even if it means just rotating sessions among a couple of rooms. In a week-long program, people will often +claim' a seat where they remain for the whole time. Shake things up a little. If you cannot move to a different room, then try to change the room you are in by rearranging the chairs, or by putting up new wall decor every couple of days.

° Balancing a Training Team: If you are working in a training team, change trainers as often as appropriate. Each trainer has 0a or her own style that will appeal to some of the participants but not to others. If one trainer is particularly quiet and soft spoken, have him/her facilitate the high energy times. The trainer who is the joker and extrovert may be more successful motivating participants during low energy training times.

When you have completed your training design and schedule, look at it. Would you want to be a participant in the program? Would you find it challenging yet fun? And if you can answer yes, then chances are you have designed a program that your participants will both enjoy and from which they will learn.

The following is the design and rough schedule for an intensive, inservice teacher training program. Titles of sessions, techniques used and time spent on each technique (in minutes, parenthesized) are shown.


Schedule

Incorporating program evaluation

Your training should be under constant evaluation by you and by the people you are training. The two main types of evaluations that you will want to conduct are:

Formative evaluations: Evaluations that take place while the training is in progress. These evaluations can occur daily, weekly, at the end of a particular topic area, or at the end of every session. Formative evaluations can be in the form of a questionnaire or can be done informally in a group or through dialogue with participants. Perhaps the most effective way is to use a variety of methods so that you are sure you gather input for improving the training program that might otherwise escape you.

Summative evaluations: Evaluations that take place at the end of a training program. They specifically address whether goals, objectives, and expectations have been met, whether the training methods addressed the participants' learning styles, and all other aspects of the training that might affect the participants' learning (including logistical aspects such as food, facilities, etc. - all of which should be dealt with in formative evaluation sessions as well). Summative evaluations give participants the opportunity to offer feedback to the trainer and suggestions and comments for future teacher training sessions.

The purpose of evaluations is three-fold:

1. to better facilitate the learning experience for the participants;
2. to help the trainer improve his/her training designs and skills; and/or
3. to determine how cost effective and successful the training program was overall.

Methods of evaluating a training program are numerous and range from simple open discussion to detailed questionnaires. Here is a brief list of selected methods that can be used to evaluate a training program:

° Group brainstorm of program strengths and weaknesses (Itemized Response Technique), with or without prioritization.

° Individual response to open-ended questions.

° Paired or shared group informal feedback (guided or unguided).

° Participant created skit, award ceremony or other closing activity that summarizes and comments on key aspects of the training.

° Croup or paired completion of trainer prepared questionnaire.

° Individual written response to a questionnaire (using open and/or closed ended questions, comments, yes/no, or scaled (1-5) type items).

As you choose the evaluation method and design the tools to be used, remember to consider: What it is you want to know and why you want to know it (i.e., what will actually be done with the information you are collecting). If this is the only training program of its type that will ever be conducted, perhaps the evaluation should be informal and aimed at having participants review and plan to apply the information covered. If it is one in a series of programs, a formal written questionnaire may serve as the best record of program strengths and weaknesses.

Analyzing training constraints

Before you are truly ready to implement your training design, you need to consider and reconsider the obstacles you may encounter. The following questions (and others) must be answered and dealt with in your design before you can think about implementing it.

° WHO: What human resources do I have to conduct the program? (Will I be doing it alone, or will I have money to pay someone else, or have some assigned help? Are there other qualified people to assist me? Are there people in the community who may play a part? Could this include other Volunteers?)

° WHERE: Where will the training be located? Where is the most cost efficient and convenient place? (Of course you may not always have the choice.) Will I need to distribute money for travel expenses or provide transportation? Will I have to provide lodging and money for food?

° HOW MANY: Given the staff available, and the facilities and available time, how many teachers may I realistically and effectively work with?

° HOW MUCH & WHAT: What financial and other material resources do I have? What teaching aids are or can be made available? (Are there specific teaching materials such as books and texts that are needed?) What materials have to be made and how do I make them/copy them? Are there any visual aids, overhead projectors, videos, etc. available at the training site? (See Chapter 2, Materials Development and Resource Utilization for more details in this area).

ACTIVITY BOX

1. Make a list of all of the people who might have input into your training program. Indicate how you would contact them, what information they might provide and what role would they play in the training program.

2. List the key obstacles or constraints you might expect to encounter as you design an in-service teacher training program. Note down how you would adjust for time, logistical, cost, etc. constraints in your training design.

3. Use the needs assessment information (hypothetical or actual) that you gathered in the previous section to design a training program you can implement when you return to your site. As you design the program, keep each of the six major considerations of program design in mind.