From teacher training to teacher learning

Whenever the performance of teachers in educational centres is evaluated, teacher training appears as a key issue. And it is crucial, simplifying, in two areas. On the one hand, as an indicator of the teacher’s level of competency updating, that is, for their evaluation and professional accreditation. On the other hand, as an instrument for this teacher to expand their toolbox and apply it in their day to day with their students.

Without aiming at judging here the effectiveness and efficiency of the various initiatives that are currently under way in terms of teacher training, what is true is that most of them have pivoted on institutionality and training. By institutionality we mean that they must begin and develop from certain institutions, be scheduled well in advance, have a certain structure and duration or teaching load and, above all, be recognized as such, that is, as teacher training initiatives within a determined scheme of the Administration. By training we understand, precisely, the high formal component of these initiatives and that, by construction, leaves out a very wide range of initiatives and learning opportunities that occur in the margins of the established system of teacher training.

There are reasons for this to be so and we do not want to open this space now to discuss them. Surely we would agree: guarantee a certain quality, avoid fraud (especially economic), etc.

But, that we aim at guaranteeing these principles does not mean that there is only one way for our teachers to learn. Moreover, it begins to be highly dissonant that, while we affirm that an era is opening where it is important to learn to learn, where it is essential to learn throughout life, where we must give tools to our students to be autonomous in their learning (present and future), we keep formal teacher training ase the only practical option: closed initiatives, circumscribed to a time and a space, and highly directed, prefabricated and unidirectional.

Outside the radar of the traditional teacher training, many educators begin to organise themselves in communities of practice and learning (virtual or face-to-face); share doubts and resources in their blogs; participate in edcamps, workshops, webinars or educational hackathons; carry out innovative projects that open up the educational community, and a long list of examples that begin to be not an exception, but a real trend that does not stop winning critical mass.

Are we capable of recognizing and, above all, fostering this type of learning, of high value (because it is not individual, but collective!), but that systematically falls outside what we have usually understood as training of trainers?

Post originally published on 28 February 2018, with the original title De la formació de formadors a l’aprenentatge de formadors in Edubaromentre.cat. All articles published in that outlet and republished here can be read in English at edubarometre.