Going Meta

Going Meta


I attended the new tutor training at the university this week. It was a great opportunity to meet with others new to the Cert Ed/ PGCE and there were some useful opportunities to share and discuss ideas. However, as much as I usually like the hands on aspect of attending training/conferences/workshops, the section of the day that I took most away from was a presentation on what it means to be a teacher trainer, and how this differs to what it means to be a teacher.

I found the presentation stimulating, informative and most of all reassuring. It made me think about how I view myself as a teacher trainer on the CELTA course and what it is that excites me about teaching on the Cert Ed/PGCE – the idea of working with those new to teaching and supporting them to become professional teachers.

The word of the day for me was metacognition – thinking about thinking – and the idea of ‘going meta’. The key theme was around the importance of supporting trainee teachers in becoming better learners.

I’ve never really understood tutors who take a surface learning (Avis et al 2010) approach to CPD. Those people who want to be told ‘the answer’, ‘the best way’ and ‘what to do’. I really struggle with this attitude as it is so alien to how I view myself and my role as a teacher.

Therefore, I think the thing that excites me as a teacher trainer is that I have the opportunity to work with new teachers where we can talk about the importance of the CPD, of tutors taking responsibility for this and be self-directed, antonymous teacher-as-learners.

course aimsAs a prediction activity before the presentation, we discussed in groups our initial thoughts on the differences between being a teacher and being a teacher trainer. I looked through the module handbook and thought it was interested that ‘develop practical skills in teaching’ was number 5 down the list. I wasn’t aware if these course aims had been listed in a  purposeful order, but I do think it is interesting that the one aspect people new to teaching would associate with teaching (ie being in the classroom) was so far down the list.

The first aim is:

  • Become professional practitioners in Lifelong Learning.

This reminded me of something I tell the CELTA trainees at interview and throughout the course. I tell them the CELTA is not a linguistics course. We will not cover, very deeply, the specifics of how the describe the English language. What we will do is to teach them the skills they will need to be able to research the language for classroom purposes.

When discussing metacognition in class I feel that this is what I am doing, and what I need to continue to do, is  to make this explicit to the trainees. The Cert Ed/PGCE will not tell them all they need to know about teaching and learning – but what is will do is give them the skills of being a professional teacher, which includes having an understanding of themselves as learners and having the skills to be self directed in their CPD.



Avis, J., Fisher, R., Thompson, R. (Eds.) (2010). Teaching in Lifelong Learning. A guide to Theory and Practice. Maidenhead: OUP.




Leave a Reply

1 − one =