Sep 22, 2010


It's back to school again. September - at least here- is a long, long month that starts out in sunny summer and slowly pushes you into into the colder and shorter days of autumn. September seems to take ages. For a school it's the time when you know how things are going to be for the coming school year. Will the crisis bite this time round? It's all a bit nerve-racking.
One thing that we do not have to deal with this year is training and integrating new teachers (so far anyway). With a full return from last year and a return to full-time teaching of an ex-teacher of ours we're probably sorted. So - no training session. Actually, yes.
As has become a tradition, Hugo from Tokyo came over with a smal group of his students. Hugo enjoys being involved with training here and his students enjoy a trip to Verona and also very much enjoy being our 'practice students' on training courses for new teachers. This time round they were practice students on a rather different programme.
It was a good opportunity to get all our teachers together for a week of serious 'advanced' training. The newest teachers have eight months experience with SpeakYourMind but the overall average is four to five years.
The interest in taking part and being able to learn and to contribute was there, which made for a very positive mood. I was able to introduce the new books - both updates and upcoming new editions and the implications these changes will have in the classroom.
Working in small groups which changed from day to day, we all taught our Japanese guests students, sometimes together with some of our own students. This made for an interesting contrast of styles - careful, accurate Japanese learners with more spontaneous and erratic Italians - at least in these cases. They got on well and probably benefitted from theirt own observations of this different approach.

At the end of each shared lesson, teacher-groups would comment and analyse any points of interest before re-assembling as a full group to discuss aspects of general interest further. It was all very open - everyone seemed unworried about having their say.
In the course of the five days, everyone got to work with and to observe everyone else and I think we all feel that it has been a very worthwhile experience.

Of course the hard thing is to keep that ball rolling. When schedules get busy, training tends to move out the way for more pressing priorities. It's like going for a run after work - you know it's good for you but you soon end up needing to do other, more urgent, things instead.

Anyway - it's done. I'm pleased with the way things went and the things I've been able to learn about and from our teachers. Hugo seems happy and his students thanked us most kindly when things came to a close. There wasn't the tension that ther can be an an intitial training course for new teachers but nonethless it was pretty demanding in its own way. Ultimately, the greatest satisfaction comes from being able to work with a group of teachers who stay with you, in many cases for many years, and who continue to be responsive, curious and enthusiastic and who express real confidence in what we are doing and how we do it and in how we are moving things forward.

No comments: