This review summarizes the interpretations of two plenaries given by Deniz Kurtoğlu Eken (DKE) and Simon Phipps (SP), and some of the sessions given by Beril Ayman Yücel (Başkent University), Ahu Burcu Hayır (Şehir University), Kübra Saygılı and Rebecca Güreci (Şehir University). To get more information about the sessions given and the plenaries, you can visit the offical T-Plus webpage from the following link. http://www.tplusturkey.org/?page_id=170 or contact Andrew Bosson, Meral Güçeri or Nezaket Özgirin

Review of the plenary session ‘Our Eternal Homework: Me-laboration and Col-laboration’ by Deniz Kurtoğlu Eken By Nezaket Özgirin

The plenary titled ‘Our Eternal Homework: Me-laboration and Col-laboration’, Deniz Kurtoğlu Eken highlighted the elements of a good story (events, set up, characters, conversations, emotions, conflicts, consequences, resolutions and discoveries) leaving the participants with the feeling that any kind of learning/training or developmental activity has the characteristics of a good story!

‘Sitting with Nellie’ expression or training method was mentioned to highlight the understanding of training in the past and some changes in training/learning and Professional development needs. (Sitting with Nellie ‘on the job one-to-one training method’ where the novice teacher sits with Nellie-the experienced teacher to develop her knowledge and skills) However, there are so many concerns in the modern world’s teachers’ lives, such as environment and physical concerns, procedures and rules concerned, continuity, systematicity, transparency, distractions and multi-tasking, time and patience, opportunities and resources available, and so on. Consequently there is a huge difference between ‘sitting with Nellie’ training method and today’s training needs and approaches. Different teacher training courses can provide lots of useful tools for teachers to improve their knowledge and skills and also to support their colleagues who need to improve themselves. She provided some quotations from the participants of one teacher training course to share the positive impact of those courses on teachers who want to improve themselves.

She then moved on to an important aspect of professional development today: research and improvement/development : ‘doing research and feedback in the sense of purely wanting to explore, learn and help self and others improve/develop’ (DKE, 2014). She then highlighted the fine line between confidence and over-confidence or ego that teacher trainers need to be aware of. (Figure 1) Figure 1 Figure 2

An important aspect of professional development raised by many teacher trainers, teacher resistance was mentioned briefly by analysing the word ‘RESISTANCE’. Its possible metaphorical meaning was explored as in the chart above. An effective way of approaching resistance is probably seeing it as an opportunity to state own opinion and to understand others’ beliefs and viewpoints. Therefore, it may be enlightening to understand resistance- what others are saying, rather than seeing it as a barrier to learning or development. (Figure 2) Also, reminding ‘Emergent Universal Order’ (Figure3) she expressed the value of individuals and differences for the whole. The figure she used which can be seen belo is self-explanatory. 

Training/learning or Professional Development (PD) is an ‘eternal ‘ process for DKE and the context ‘co-text’ requies certain ways we need to behave/not behave. Thinking of ourselves in various surroundings: line manager expectations, senior administration, perceptions and misperceptions of change, peer pressure, collaboration and competition and perceptions and misconceptions of roles, responsibilities and tasks may all determine how we behave or not behave. The final message was ‘We need ‘the dark experiences’, which are misinterperted as darkness, to fully and truly discover our light!’ DKE’s session was referred to in many discussion groups to focus on the importance of the individual as a ‘person’ rather than a certain type of ‘teacher’. Respecting differences, soul, true exploration of dark areas and ego were the key words that got stuck in many minds.

Review of the plenary given by Simon Phipps By Andrew Bosson

At the end of the first day Simon Phipps gave a talk entitled “Trainer Development: developing / enhancing the necessary skills.”

Simon started with the question “What is a trainer?”. Firstly he mentioned that in universities trainers work in different contexts including CPDU units, on formal courses and in mentoring roles. They take part in a variety of activities including observations, workshops, action research an individual support. Simon suggested that in order to fulfil these roles trainers need a range of skills including giving presentations, conducting observations and coaching. Additionally trainers need knowledge of the subject area including ELT methodology, teacher learning, counselling and mentoring. Finally he suggested that personal qualities are important and not everyone possesses these qualities. Simon suggested that a trainer would have the following personal qualities: confidence, self-esteem, empathy, the ability to encourage trust & respect, being inspirational and caring.

Next Simon moved on to the types of training activities that might encourage teacher learning mentioning training courses, reflective practice, mentoring, action research and workshops. He looked specifically at the differing purposes of observations (peer, mentoring, trainer, performance management) and the support needed in these contexts.

Simon then turned to teacher learning. He saw teacher learning equating to a change in beliefs and practices as teachers proceed from ‘novice’ to ‘expert’. In relation to this he asked us to consider what the role of the ‘trainer’ is and what others perceptions of trainers are. Are we trying to improve the quality of teaching or encourage personal development – are these mutually exclusive? Do we ask teachers to undertake formal courses? Can and should we try to change the culture of the school?

Simon spent some time focussing on the needs of ‘novice’ teachers. He suggested that they need to learn how to: survive in class; feel and look confident; develop (reflexive) teaching routines; lesson plan; put ideas into practice; manage the classroom environment as well as developing teaching techniques. He also mentioned the role of mentoring in supporting and guiding ‘novice’ teachers to help them do their jobs and to progress in their careers. Ideally a mentor is a colleague, who can also act as a role model, with experience and knowledge to share. The mentoring relationship is built on trust and mutual respect and building of healthy relationships. It does not involve judgement or spoon-feeding.

Next Simon turned to trainers and more specifically becoming a trainer. He noted that there are few formal courses to become trainers and that people have taken many different routes to become trainers. He noted that trainers, just as teachers, need to find their own style and identity and deal with the different perceptions people will have of them as they take-on a training role. Becoming a trainer is an act of personal and professional development and a role that not all teachers are suited to.

Simon presented a list of strategies to sustain and enhance Teacher Training skills. These included: seeking new challenged to stay fresh and avoid burn-out, learning cooperatively; adopting reflective practice – possibly in the form of research; taking risks, adapting training styles and trying new ideas; being patient, asking for support and ewcwiving feedback from other trainers. Penultimately Simon suggested ways that TPlus can help develop Teacher Training expertise including: trainer development support; short TT courses (summer, weekend, part-time); coordinated localised support groups; individualised support and guidance; trainer collaboration amongst members; collaborative research among members; forum for sharing and learning (TPlus events).

Finally Simon offered some closing thoughts stressing the uniqueness of the individual and the importance of positive thinking. He also described life-long learning as a journey of self discovery over many years to develop training skills.

Saturday Morning

The event continued on Saturday morning with group discussions of take-away ideas from the event and suggestions for collaboration between institutions and individuals. This was followed by a final session where the groups shared their ideas.

I found the group discussion sessions to be very interesting. It was nice to hear that the positive ideas participants had discovered to enhance professional development with their own institutions. The group that I participated in went off topic slightly to discuss the difference between training and development. Throughout the event the terms were often used interchangeably and Simon’s talk focused on the attributes of a trainer rather than a person promoting Professional Development PD.

We felt that there is a difference which may lay at the heart of some teacher resistance to PD. Training implies the gaining of a specific level of competence and an external requirement (to start teaching for example). Of course teachers do choose to attend training courses voluntarily but this is often with the specific aim of training to a level of proficiency and often involves a qualification (or at least a certificate) as proof of this competence.

PD on the other hand has more personal connotations. The aims for our PD may come from areas of personal or professional interest or come from suggestions from colleagues. However, the motivation for the development is internal. With these differences in mind we felt that it is important that the ‘trainer’ or CPDU coordinator is aware of the nature of their role. Are they a trainer whose role is to ensure teachers have and can demonstrate competencies to a desired level or is their role to encourage teachers to explore their own practice and provide possible opportunities to do this? Both roles have the goal of enhancing teaching and thus learning but from slightly different perspective, involving differing perceptions.

Simon had mentioned teachers’ perceptions of training /CPD units. Misperceptions of the roles may be the cause of resistance to CPD – another presenter had mentioned that teachers who had started taking a particular CPD course had stopped taking it when they learned they would not receive a financial benefit for gaining the ‘qualification’. This, hopefully extreme, example highlights the dangers of confusion between training and continuing professional development. To get a job or work in a certain institution we may need a certain level of competence which is gained through training and the qualification that is gained through reaching and demonstrating the competence. Professional development as the name suggests is the ongoing ‘teacher learning’ that is required in all professions – the professional in question may choose a training course but this is largely dictated but personal internal and informed professional need.

In the final group session we discussed ways to collaborate to develop CPD within and across our institutions. Local meetings and support groups were discussed as were using web tools such as What’s app. We also discussed smaller scale collaborations between two or three universities where participants visit each other’s institutions to take part in CPD activities.

The morning finished with a plenary session in which all groups shared their ideas from the morning’s discussion.

Review of the sessions by Beril Ayman Yücel, Ahu Burcu Hayır, Kübra Saygılı and Rebecca Güreci By Meral Güçeri

Tplus Turkey CPD event was held at Şehir University on the 4th November 2014. TPLUS stands for Trainers’ Professional Learning and Unlimited Sharing. The mission is stated on the website as “The mission of T-PLUS is to contribute to the development of teacher education and in-service professional learning within university sector language programmes through collaboration and open exchange of practice.”

Tplus had plenary and concurrent sessions on Friday and group discussions for the new ideas and suggestions on Saturday. Group discussions aimed at collaboration between the participants and institutions.

I attended several sessions where teachers and trainers reflected their continuous professional development experiences. Beril Ayman Yücel of Başkent University discussed how team teaching could be employed as a teacher learning tool in her session entitled Achieving a Common Goal Together Through Team Teaching. Having provided a brief literature review, Beril defined team teaching as individual teacher’s resource pool where s/he exchanges interests, ideas and experiences to design a joint lesson and implement it together. Beril then shared the purpose of team teaching, its process and the practice at Başkent University.

Beril quoted from Wang (2010) “team teaching gathers a group of teachers who work together to plan, conduct and evaluate the learning activities for the same group of learners”. Beril stressed that wherever team teaching is administered it needs to be introduced in a good and satisfactory level and its rationale should be explained clearly.

Following the cycle of pre-planning, team teaching and self evaluation, reflection on a diary was suggested as an applicable process. Having shared expectations from teachers, advantages and disadvantages of team teaching, Beril ended her team teaching session by highlighting the crucial role of careful planning, administrative encouragement and willingness to risk taking. For more information please visit http://www.tplusturkey.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/Achieving-a-common...

There were presentations on classroom research as a professional development tool. Ahu Burcu Hayır’s presentation was entitled Research and Professional Development: A Teacher’s Perspective. Ahu explained the aim of the study as to find out why some students prefer native English speaking English teachers and why some prefer non-native English speaking English teachers. She said that she also wanted to compare the main differences between their teaching strategies focusing on speaking & listening skills of native and nonnative English speaking English teachers.

Having clarified several research questions Ahu shared data related to the participants, data collection tools, procedures and her findings. One of the issues that students highlighted reads as follows: “We force ourselves more to speak English; thus, we practice more” however when listening skills are concerned her comment is: “As for listening, students believe there is not much difference between teachers because listening skill development depends on the student”. She says that 12 students got involved in this study therefore it may not reflect the perceptions of all students. More research could be conducted to achieve accurate results. To read more about her study, please visit: http://www.tplusturkey.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/Research-and-Profe... .

Ahu ended her talk sharing the impact of this research study on her and the institution that she works by highlighting what she has learned and what institutional issues were. She claimed that even though it was her second year in TEFL, she thought research was an indispensible component of her profesional development. Ahu emphasised that conducting research helped her form her teaching beliefs more strongly, encouraged her to do more for her professional growth, helped her understand the needs and wants of students better and raised her awareness on what goes well what not.

Kübra Saygılı and Rebecca Güreci shared their institutional Pre-service teacher training program that they attended while they were newly recruited. They described their journey which started with a two week long induction program. Kübra and Rebecca explained the aim of this program as to highlight academic standards and administrative competence while new members were getting to know each other and the culture of the institution. They shared the booklet designed to inform new teachers with all the academic and administrative issues. They said that having dealt with curriculum and assessment related issues in the first few days, next, administrative procedures were shared. They both thought that those sessions were very informative. Finally, new teachers were said to be involved in CPD related activities such as classroom observation, workshops, team work etc. They ended their session by quoting: “It is necessary ... for a man to go away by himself ... to sit on a rock ... and ask, 'Who am I, where have I been, and where am I going?” by Carl Sandburg. If you would like te get more information about their pre-service teacher training program, please visit : http://www.tplusturkey.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/On-the-Path-to-Pro...

I thought these learning sessions were rewarding since teachers and trainers got inspiration and ideas for the classroom, career development and keeping up to date with recent professional trends. T Plus participants were all very enthusiastic, motivated and involved because they were interested in performing more effectively, growing professionally and initiaing change not only in their teaching and learning but also in their institution. I think T-Plus provides a forum for TEFLers to discuss how to build knowledge in a variety of areas including ELT methodology, teacher and trainer learning, counseling, mentoring, research, giving presentations, conducting observations, coaching and team teaching. More importantly, personal qualities of a teacher and trainer, openness to change and innovations, building healthy relations, respect and care were among the areas which were highlighted.