Observation Debate: Helpful Frameworks?

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

What is your view?

Arguably frameworks can restrict development by becoming a (limiting) tool for assessment or development in observation – a kind of tick box, check list that does not adapt well to individual needs and limits development to these defined areas.  However this assumes a use of them that is very narrow.  On the other side frameworks with competencies across many areas can help to support staff in self-assessment and guide teachers/ trainers to take control of their own development and assessment.  It can also help to clarify and standardise what is being evaluated in assessment of performance. 

The BC and EAQUALS frameworks help to meet two different needs, the BC one dealing with development that comes from different professional experience, opportunities and training and the EAQUALS one dealing with the detail of teaching / training competencies.  I feel both these types of framework (whether these exact ones or other similar versions) can be useful in encouraging and guiding assessment and development of teaching and training.  However that is my opinion – what do you think?






You can read these two frameworks (as pdfs) here:

British Council Agenda for Continuing Professional Development

EAQUALS Framework for Teacher Development


These are intended as starting points from which to proceed. We would love to hear your comments, ideas and suggestions.

So to get the ball rolling:

– on what grounds do you feel frameworks are useful / usable?

– do you feel these two frameworks are workable/adaptable to the IH London context?

– would you find them personally helpful or not and why?

– do you feel there are any issues raised by the implementation of a framework to aid teacher development?

– and please add any more questions you feel are pertinent!


One Comment

  1. Melissa says:

    Thoughts following the EAQUALS consultation thingy yesterday
    A very experienced trainer once said to me, “You can train a monkey to pass IELTS”.

    Descriptors, competencies, phases of development are all very well but at the end of the day it’s very difficult to fit someone into a box. I’d rather my managers, mentors, et al thought outside of the box.
    In fact, I’m not sure I like being boxed up at all.

    As you pointed out, the negatives “assume a use of [the framework] that is very narrow”. And yet narrowness is precisely what is entailed in pithy one-size-fits-all phases of development.
    For example, after my five years teaching in China – large classes, no materials, no internet – I had developed my ability to design tasks and materials up to phase 6 (THE BEST!!). However this is only one bullet point in the box and I certainly wasn’t developing in any rounded linear fashion – certainly not according to the EAQUALS descriptors (or shall we call them criteria?). Anyway, I didn’t fit in the box. But funnily enough, I could’ve told my manager that. Odd that this whole system seems at face value designed to guide. You mention it “can help to support staff in self-assessment and guide teachers/ trainers to take control of their own development”. Just ask them! At best, put the descriptors on the wall for all to see, but don’t use it as a tracking system. Let’s leave that to the post office!

    It seems nonsensical that people cannot identify their own needs. There may well be elements of practice that a development observation or wider reading may help me re-examine. i.e. I haven’t noticed something, but an abstractly worded set of boxes seems unlikely to provide clarity.

    “a wide range of language functions, forms and communication issues relevant to lesson objectives in the TLP for a fairly wide range of level and learner needs”
    “all main formal and functional aspects of language and communication across all levels”

    … and besides, I couldn’t say that now. And I doubt TEFL gods such as Martin Parrott could either. How wide is your wide? Is it as wide as my fairly wide? But I do know I don’t feel confident in a CPE class because I don’t feel I know my grammar well enough.
    Now which statement is more useful for a director of studies? The one from the box or the one from the teacher? … hmmm?

    The danger of this panacea of competencies is how they may be used as a crutch by managers – particularly newer ones – to substitute for real dialogue and concrete personalised objective setting. We’re all aware of how demanding a director/manager’s job is. Bearing the workload in mind it’s not hard to imagine what a consequence of instituting these frameworks would be…
    And even regardless of how they are instituted, there will naturally be a perception that these authorial statements come from above – and a certain amount of mistrust that they might be misused.

    For Christ’s sake, even God gave Moses just the ten – why do we need thirteen competencies with a further six stages in each!? Use your brain!

    And is there an end point to this development? Having reached the lofty heights of level 6 across the board can I sit back on my wheely chair and revel in my own mastery, my closeness to deity?

    I think at the end of the day when we talk about empowering teachers to develop themselves we need to recognise individual personalities, their teaching identity and factors outside of their work that contribute. All of these things lie outside these boxes. Afterall, we’re not monkeys, we’re people.


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