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    The TorqAid article suggests that a successful teacher/trainer/facilitator needs to have a range of expertise and skills which could be taught in a curriculum covering twelve key topics.  From your experience either as a teacher and/or development practitioner, comment on these twelve topics The TorqAid article suggests that a successful teacher/trainer/facilitator needs to have a range of expertise and skills which could be taught in a curriculum covering twelve key topics.  From your experience either as a teacher and/or development practitioner, comment on these twelve topics


    The twelve learning principles or topics encompass both people and technical skills which I think is a good mix. The Torquaid skills required match well with the other training providers’ principles and goals, such as with ELD’s 7 principles. The linkages are attempted below:

    * Torquaid ‘Topic 1 – Know material well’ could relate to ELD ‘nothing is so complex that it can’t be explained’. You can only explain well if you yourself understand principles, applications, exceptions etc.
    *Torquaid ‘Topic 2 – Being clear on what to teach, and to what level’ corresponds to both ELD and LINGO’s principles of relevance and appropriateness of material, with potential links to ELD’s ‘Training should not be hard work’ . This would all come under the banner of teaching what is relevant at a level that is appropriate for the participants

    * Torquaid ‘Topic 9 – Great variety of teaching techniques’ would support ELD’s principle of ‘nothing is so complex that it can’t be explained simply. As well as understanding the material (Topic 1), it is key to be able to be flexible in the teaching approach and to be sensitive to identifying when an approach is not resonating with participants and to adapt. For instance when this happens I tend to use examples followed by activities to reinforce what might have initially appeared confusing. While not necessarily an academic or technical expertise, it is a more objective skill of a good trainer.

    * Torquaid ‘Topic 3 – No substitute for Hard work’, ‘Topic 4 – Planning your lessons carefully’, ‘Topic 5 – Checking everything beforehand’, all remind us to be as prepared as possible to achieve the best outcomes. In some ways this is like project management – planning thoroughly, checking risks, allowing for contingencies etc

    * Torquaid ‘Topic 6 – Understanding Students’, ‘Topic 11 – Being sensitive and responsive to language and culture’ also relate to Topic 4 in terms of preparation and to the ELD principles of ‘responsiveness matters’ and ‘participants are the most important people in the room

    * Torquaid ‘Topic 7 – Teaching with passion, skill, flair and enjoyment’ is an interesting attribute to teach. I would be keen to understand this a little more. Simply if you don’t enjoy it, then you shouldn’t teach it? It would support the principle of ELD – ‘training should not be hard work’. A passionate instructor is inspirational for participants.

    * Torquaid ‘Topic 8 – setting high standards of discipline, earning respect’ is a topic that supports best practice in teaching. There does need to be mutual respect and accountability for the training to be effective and meaningful.

    * Torquaid ‘Topic 10 – getting students to talk, share experiences and gel as a group’ aligns well with ELD’s principle of ‘participants to be involved as much as possible’. It may not always be possible to talk and share experiences as a group; for instance an online course but forums etc can be established for some level of interaction. I wonder about the ‘gel as a group’. This would teach participants leadership, flexibility and social skills but the necessity of learning these may not always be there depending on the context and technical topic.

    Where within the 4 Torquaid areas does pedagogy sit? Teaching expertise is different to subject matter expertise and it could be argued that all the Topics together would deliver good teaching techniques – is that the intention? Things like – speaking loudly, keeping sessions after lunch more active, handwriting, good presentation tips etc. I estimate ‘Topic 12 – measuring teaching/learning outcomes’ falls into this category. Assessments need to be designed appropriately and the teaching topics aligned to them.

    I recently adapted my approach in Solomon Water where the initial intention was to train in Procurement. Having met the staff and got to understand the structure, limitations and priorities, this training was postponed until November when key staff will be in a better position to attend and when the senior members of the management team have been through their own change management processes to buy into the new ways of working. If I had gone ahead as intended, the material would not have been relevant or actionable within Solomon Water and therefore its effectiveness would have diminished.

    The material itself is full of activities and interaction on the basis of learning through doing. While no formal accreditation is included, the proof will be in the application.

    I believe that I have applied the 12 Topics to the material and planning however, only through delivery of the material will I better understand how well it works! We’ll see in November.


    In the principles to be or become an effective teacher/trainer/facilitator having an over all understanding of these 12 topics i feel is key to a true engagement of those who are involve.

    while the material may be already developed being able to plan and to engage students in achieving the best learning experience is the main objective. Its not an easy thing doing this cross culture though.
    Topics 6 through to topic 11 are a real big factor addressing what skills are needed while being effective cross culturally


    Hi Mardi & Matt,
    Thanks for your comments here. Some thoughts from my end:
    – Interesting, Mardi, you making the link between the ELD, LINGOs & TorqAid material. Not sure about the comment ‘ ‘training should not be hard work’. In my experience the best teachers I’ve seen all work hard (there is no substitute for this). However if they’re well planned, much of the stress can be taken out of it, so they can ideally enjoy at least most of this ! Teaching (certainly in a classroom of kids) is somewhat like being on’s a bit of an act/bluff, so that you’re ultimately in control of them 9rather than vice versa!)
    – In future DRM Module 4’s (Teach like a Champion) I will make a reference to both andragogy (adult learning), and pedagogy (which strictly is learning for children). I have now included in the DRM bibliography at a reference by the Educational Technology and Mobile Learning, on Pedagogy vs Andragogy…
    – There are of course times when things go flat (however well prepared you might be)..those awful silences, and time when the clock seems to grind to a halt. The challenge I think is recognising this as soon as possible, and changing tack. in Vanuatu, when we started off using the diagrams, my wife, who was there, pointed out that they weren’t really getting it (the overall concepts). I was able to therefore switch into a much more participatory exercise (the TST discussing key challenges arising out of the recent drought), which the group was better able to engage with
    – In planning out teaching, it’s important to try and think ahead to the classroom room situation..In many (developing country) overseas locations, it’s much too light to use technology such as data projectors/ power-points. This was why in Vanuatu, we didn’t even bother bringing these, and beforehand had those large diagrams (DRMC/DRR) prepared in Australia (and they at first didn’t work very well as just mentioned !), together with lots of flip-chart paper, markers, Officeworks dots (for the TST), blu-tack etc. That’s why sometimes evening teaching is better, but you then have to check power-supplies, security, mosquitoes & selected bugs/vermin, as well as some people not turning up because of logistics or being too pooped !
    – It’s really important where possible to get to a teaching location the day before, establish good relationships, check everything in the room (so you can deal then with major shocks!), and then have a good feed/sleep before starting the next day reasonably refreshed. Things like this minimise the stress
    – It is important of course to plan out lessons (and student teachers of course have to go thru’ this). There’s obviously a balance between some decent planning, and not making this too mechanistic. With experience individuals will be able to slim this down
    – Interesting comment about teaching things we may or may not like. School teachers of course have to teach some subjects they have less interest in..the good ones (teachers) will look at ways of making these interesting. As development practitioners, we’re probably lucky in that we’re normally called to teach something we have a passion about. Had a thought here to refer people to site which is a simply brilliant site looking at data sources/statistics (eh GNI per capita; under 5 mortality rate etc) ….really helpful for someone like me who finds stats a bit dull normally….
    – Important to have good discipline..not so much a behavioural problem in our development work (fortunately), but time-discipline certain is (eg people saying they are used to ‘Pacific’ time). I think it’s really important not to go down this track (without being over-rigid on this). Anybody can turn up on time if they really wanted to..we found this in Bangladesh on my first project as a Save the Children Field director), where we had to cycle around our five locations each month to pay people (we did monitor more than that I hasten to add !). When their pay was involved, it’s amazing how people can keep to time !
    – Thanks, Mardi, for your comments about teaching in the Solomons, and to you, Matt, for the challenges of cross-cultural teaching. It’s obviously more challenging teaching than in our normal western setting. Using national staff (as long as they’re skilled) can really help here. In our Indian (West Bengal) project as you may have seen from the video clips, our Bangladeshi colleague Rana did such a brilliant job of teaching (all in Bengali) that he ended up doing 90% of it….Similarly in Vanuatu, I was able to involve some of the ACOM staff to help in the facilitation and group work. . .


    I learned a lot of these tips very gradually, the hard way with tutoring! The best tutors and facilitators I’ve seen incorporate these principles to heart. Enjoying both the subject material and teaching your group is very important and that is reflected in its importance to topics 1, 3, 4, 7, 9, and 10. It’s particularly heartening to see a strong focus on good preparation and evaluation in the topics – much better than the often relied-upon university teaching strategy of winging it based on a reading or overall learning objectives. Little things, like knowing the students’ names and pitching the material to their level to invigorate their own passions (topics 6 and 2 respectively) really can make all the difference! Echoing Matt’s comments, I imagine the greatest difficulty with these topics is being able to maintain high standards of teaching in a cross-cultural context, especially if you only have a group for a session or two versus a whole day / several days / a course. Topics 1-5 really shine in such a context; good preparation is key.

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