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Series on education
Teaching the teachers: ways of improving teaching and identifying areas for development
  1. L Millard


  1. 1 Summerlands Cottage, Botley Road, Curdridge, Southampton SO32 2DS, UK

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What does “teaching the teachers” mean?

The term refers to ways of enabling teachers to develop their ability to help students to learn. It can denote a range of activities and have a variety of outcomes. Boxes FB1 and FB2 outline some of these activities and outcomes.

Figure FB1


  • Attendance at courses on teaching

  • Attendance at sessions on aspects of teaching, such as lecturing, running tutorials

  • Having one's own teaching observed and commented upon

  • Observing others teaching (learning by example)

  • Discussion of issues, such as planning and evaluating a session, with a respected teacher

  • Reflecting on one's own teaching and trying to identify what aspects are helpful to students' learning and which are not

  • Studying student feedback, whether written or verbal, to identify what students report as being helpful and unhelpful to their learning

  • Mentoring of a new teacher by an experienced colleague

Figure FB2


  • Better understanding of what helps students to learn

  • Acquiring techniques—for example, on how to encourage participation or how to lecture effectively

  • Gaining ideas on ways of structuring information to make it more accessible to students

  • Feeling more motivated and more able to engage in teaching

  • Valuing teaching more highly

When considering how teaching ability may be developed, it is helpful to bear in mind the breadth of opportunities available and also the varied outcomes which may be sought.

Well motivated teachers convey their enthusiasm to their students and this encourages them to learn.1 Teachers can be helped to maintain their motivation by knowing that they are doing a good job: that they are helping students to learn effectively. By enhancing teachers' understanding and abilities, teaching the teachers activities can help to nurture enthusiasm for teaching in the face of competing pressures from clinical and other demands.

How can teaching the teachers offer opportunities to hard pressed teachers to increase their ability to teach well and enjoy the process?

Medical schools, postgraduate centres, and numerous other providers offer courses on aspects of teaching …

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