Branka Zaja writes
The Croatian Education and Teacher Training Agency and the British Council in Croatia have embarked on a partnership in the professional development of the agency’s local coordinators for English by providing them with a programme in teacher training skills.
The Croatian system of in-service training of English teachers is organised by the agency’s senior advisers for English and the network of teachers known as county coordinators, who in this capacity are responsible for organising and facilitating teacher training events for teachers in their counties (21 of them). Unfortunately, many coordinators have never had any formal training, so the British Council’s trainer development programme was recognised and welcomed by the agency as a much-needed opportunity for teachers to gain and develop essential skills in teacher training.
It all started with a regional summer school organised by the British Council in Turkey in 2011. Bringing together forty teacher trainers from fifteen countries in the region, the nine-day summer school was an excellent opportunity for participants to develop their training skills, refresh their English teaching and share experiences with colleagues from diverse backgrounds. The criteria for participation included a commitment to deliver training to their colleagues on their return, which two Croatian participants, selected in partnership with the Teacher Training Agency, were more than happy to accept.
‘Participation in the nine-day programme exceeded my expectations both professionally and personally,’ said Dina Linić, one of the two Croatian trainers. ‘Thanks to excellent British Council trainers and a supportive atmosphere, we worked hard, gained professional knowledge and built our confidence, which we needed to be able to deliver training in our country.’
Two such cascade trainings have been organised so far for around forty coordinators in the regions of Dalmatia and Slavonia. Plans are well under way for the rest of the country’s coordinators to be covered by this programme.
The training itself is organised around six workshops on topics such as ‘understanding your trainees’, ‘making workshops effective’, ‘peer observation’ and ‘giving feedback’. For many teachers, the latter seemed to be the most challenging task of all: to teach in front of their colleagues and be prepared to give and receive feedback. Many have realised through this opportunity that, as much as teachers do work in isolation, it is only through sharing with others that they can truly develop in this honourable profession.
Branka Zaja is projects and communications coordinator for the British Council Croatia