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May 20, 2019
After a year and a half of planning and preparation, it was wonderful to finally meet our April 2019 Postgraduate Certificate in Education international (PGCEi) cohort in Bangkok (see above photo). With the PGCEi programme now fully operational in Asia, I wanted to reflect on the first five day face-to-face induction in Bangkok, to help identify areas for potential development going forward. The reflections below draw on PGCEi team debriefs as well as trainee feedback from the induction review.
Ensuring we connect theory with practice
Throughout the planning, a key tenet of the PGCEi programme has been to keep material as lean, sharp and relevant as possible, tying themes to assessments throughout all modules and marrying theory with practice. Overall, this is something that as a PGCEi team we thought went well. As one trainee commented:
‘What I learnt in the course so far I have witnessed this being applied by my colleagues in the school I'm working at. Linking the theory to the application of teaching’.
One piece of trainee feedback from the induction review centred on having more ‘in class’ activities. Going forward we can perhaps look to create more opportunities for trainees to further engage with practice by teaching small activities in the induction, without relying on a show-and-tell approach. Show-and-tell teaching by teacher educators cannot help prospective teachers to think in more complex ways about their practice (Myers, 2002).
The induction programme
On reflection, the PGCEi team felt that the course overview and assessment session on day three could have been moved forward to day two in order to provide further clarity on the course as a whole. As one trainee commented:
‘Having programme information on the 'first day' of induction would make me feel more at ease with what lies ahead. The majority of us had many questions regarding the course but this was not addressed until day three’.
At the end of the induction programme we felt there was enough time built into the schedule for 1-to-1 questions and to revisit key themes on an individual basis. The feedback on the whole organisation and content of the induction programme was very positive. As one trainee stated:
‘The course was well laid out, well organized, and absolutely full of information. We've been given plenty of access to information about the course, the facilities and services available to us, as well as the tutors (teaching fellows). The sessions were all very relevant to teacher training, and they were engaging and informative’.
Accommodating a range of trainees with differing settings
We found that trainees were at very different stages of their teaching careers. Some were ‘in service’ teachers currently engaged in teaching full time, whilst some were ‘pre service’ teachers just coming into the profession. This variety of teaching experience necessitated flexibility of approach. Going forward we could look at providing options in regard to specific sessions. As one trainee reflected:
‘Provide choice for certain sessions, for example, primary having a phonics session while secondary going into behaviour in depth - have a choice for that for situations where a primary person may be well versed in phonics and may want to dwell deeper into behaviour’.
Perhaps as a PGCEi team, we need to further encourage ‘pre-service’ trainees coming into the programme to more fully reflect on their experiences from outside of the teaching profession in order to utilise skills sets and accelerate learning. ‘One frequently cited benefit of reflective teaching for example; is that students grow in their ability to think and talk critically about teaching and learning’ (Zeichner 1987:572).
Overall, as a PGCEi team, we feel privileged to have met such an engaging and supportive group of trainees and very much look forward to working with them throughout the course of the next year.
Zeichner, K.M., (1987) Preparing reflective teachers: An overview of instructional strategies which have been employed in preservice teacher education, University of Wisconsin-Madison, USA.
Myers, C.B., (2002) in Russel, T. and Loughran, J., (2007) Enacting a pedagogy of teacher education, Routledge, London.