Posted by: Frances Westbrook, Regional English Language Officer
From July 4 through July 8, I had the privilege to work with 25 bright, talented young Ukrainian teachers. My office, the Regional English Language Office, started offering one-week-long trainings to novice teachers last year. This year we were happy to continue the tradition. In addition to myself, Ann McAllen, a teacher trainer from the United States, helped implement the program.
The week-long training focused on the basics of good English teaching methodology. Each day had a pedagogical focus, including teaching speaking, various ways to teach writing, reading techniques and activities, and how best to use listening in the classroom.
Every day began with a warm-up activity which served two purposes. One, it did what the name suggests: it warmed up teachers’ brains and got them ready to work. Two, it gave the teachers an opportunity to experience an activity from the inside out. Rather than just give the participants lists of ice breakers and warmers, we had the teachers actually experience these activities, leading to a deeper understanding of the uses, and helping teachers see how such activities could be used in their own classrooms.
Experiential learning continued into each workshop session. The participants were continually asked to participate in activities as students. This not only leads to more interesting and engaging sessions, but again, it helps teachers see the benefits of each activity more deeply, and hopefully how such activities can be applied in their classroom practice.
The teachers came from throughout Ukraine: from as far away as Chernivtsi and Sumy. Feedback on the program was quite positive. One participant stated in the end-of-course evaluation, “I liked that I gained new experiences which I can share with my colleagues at the university. I can apply this experience to a wide range of students.”
Another teacher wrote, “I liked most of all that it wasn’t boring, that we didn’t just listen to the trainers, but all of us were involved. Warm-up activities and ice breakers were just wonderful, and I’ll definitely use them even with my university students.”
Overall, everyone involved felt it had been a successful week. I was quite sad when Friday, July 8 came and we had to say goodbye.