Teacher training and development: Whose knowledge is it anyway? (part II)

My previous post raised the following question:

How do we validate, or legitimate, the individualized knowledge we have about teaching?



If you took a training course such as Trinity TESOL or CELTA, you must have had a portfolio in which you clipped your lesson plans, worksheets, and other teaching materials; as well as, perhaps, some reflective writing.

That must have been part of your assessment; which means that in one way or another it is good for assessment, so…

What if you kept a portfolio with the very best lessons you planned, the resources you most used, photos and videos of your classes, and some feedback from your students?

Take that to your next job interview. (Thank me later after you got the job 🙂 )



Perhaps I don’t need to say much about the advantages of blogging. But it’s worth mentioning that:

  • A blog can be your best business card if no-one knows you.
  • A good blog shows much more what kind of knowledge you have to offer than a certificate does. A blog can give hints and insights on the way you think, whereas a CV is pretty insipid.
  • Increasingly, I’ve met people who were offered jobs or other opportunities because of their blogs.
  • Blogs balance the amount of information about our profession, bringing it down to Earth, the at-the-chalk-face factor (or IWB-face nowadays). Enabling practitioners to exchange loads with other practitioners from all over the world, which has potential to create a high level of transferability, validity, reliability in a very 21th-century fashion – i.e. bottom-up knowledge.


Conference presentations

When you set out to do your first presentation, you’ll see that the pre/while/post work of it all will be one of the most valuable developmental experiences you can aim at.

As for me, while the peaks of my professional development have been achieved through reflective practice through blogging; the peaks of my professional knowledge have certainly been achieved while preparing talks for conferences.

Due to their low academic rigor (not necessarily a bad thing), ELT conferences are one of the few in the broad Education/Linguistic fields to open space for the purely pragmatic, the hands-on, and the wrongly-labeled ‘inexperienced’. It turns out that in conference circles, professionals who are actually teaching have been gaining a lot of recognition and support from those who moved on to be writers/authors, for example.


All in all, documenting your knowledge construction can make a big difference not only for your own benefit, but also for the development of our profession as a whole. I think we share this responsibility.

So there you are; my three ways to answer the question above: portfolios, blogs and presentations. And below, what made me stop and write this and the previous post.

To build a broader knowledge base for L2 teacher education requires that we accept as legitimate knowledge that is generated by and from practitioners as they participate in the social practices associated with L2 teaching and learning (…)

For practitioner knowledge to become part of the knowledge base of teacher education, Hiebert et al. (2002), suggest that it must be made public and represented in such a way that it is accessible to others and open for inspection, verification, and modification.

Johnson (2009: 24-25)

Johnson, K. E. (2009) Trends in Second Language Teacher Education. In Burns & Richards (eds.) The Cambridge Guide to Second Language Teacher Education. New York: Cambridge University Press.
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5 Responses to Teacher training and development: Whose knowledge is it anyway? (part II)

  1. Jen P says:

    Hi Willy

    Thanks for the great ideas suggested.

    I really like the idea of keeping a portfolio of good lessons and materials. I also watched David Crystal’s interview on IATEFL re: recording our own lessons and showing colleagues a clip of the lesson that went well – I think this would give teachers who feel ‘inexperienced’ and ‘undertrained’ the confidence to share and feel valued.

    • Willy says:

      Hi Jen
      Thanks for leaving a comment!

      Everytime someone mentions video recording lessons, it reminds me that this is something I really should do, and which I’ve been postponing for actually no good reason. My school (SGI) just got a flipcam for the teaching staff, I’ll try and use it as soon as possible.

  2. Hi Willy,

    Some great ideas here.

    I have given a few conference talks and I have found that they really stretch my undersatanding of whatever subject I am talking about.

    I have recently started my blog and got involved with leaving comments on other people’s blogs. I have to say that it has been a tremendous experience and I only wish I had started it ages ago.

    I am currently running an informal training course in Curitiba and most of the people on it have little or no experience. I am going to have a session looking at how they can develop portfolios to improve their job prospects.

    Thanks for taking the time to respond to comments from your previous post.

    • Willy says:

      Hi Stephen

      Firstly, thanks for always coming back when there’s a new post and commenting. It’s good to keep in touch with people teaching and training in Brazil; I always wonder if once I moved here and started to ‘operate’ more under UK norms, my ideas are still transferable to the Brazilian context, where in fact nine tenths of my career took place.

      The portfolio thing dawned on me after seeing architects doing it as part of job applications. I tried it myself for some teacher training jobs and it worked well. But regardless of job seeking, I enjoy collecting my “top of the pops”, in can bring a good sense of achievement.

  3. Pingback: Posts you might have missed (because I wrote them elsewhere) « Authentic Teaching

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