Training, Education and Development

The three terms are often used simultaneously and interchangeably, yet training, education and development each have their own distinct meaning and application in teaching and teacher training.

Creative Commons
Creative Commons

Training and Development are the two terms which are most often lumped together. A quick search in Google produces millions of hits. Add in education and you get even more hits.

However, if training, education and development represent the three pillars of this area, then what is the difference between each? More importantly: what do these differences mean for Teachers and Teacher Trainers?

Teacher Education

In English Language Teaching, this often equates to an Initial Teacher Training programme, such as the Cambridge CELTA, the Trinity CertTesol and the IH Certificate in Teaching English. It deals with the period of development in which a teacher is learning the basics and is working towards becoming an NQT or a Newly Qualified Teacher.

How much should be covered in such a course is an area of intense debate, particularly in the current climate where many bloggers and trainers are calling for initial courses to be longer and provide more in-depth preparation.

The first years of teaching could also be considered to be part of Teacher Education, as it is during this period a teacher often learns new things which later become part of a their basic teaching abilities.

Teacher Training

The definition and scope of training will vary from industry to industry, but in English Language Teaching it essentially consists of three elements:

  1. Direct Involvement
    Someone, be it a trainer, a colleague or a Director of Studies, directly involves themselves in your teaching capabilities. For example: conducting observations and feedback sessions.
  2. Specific Outcomes
    A training course will always have set goals or aims. Head and Taylor (1997: 1) identify this as a defining characteristic of teacher training, stating training courses always have “an external training agenda.” For example: a training course which aims to better prepare teachers when delivering Cambridge Exam Preparation courses. These outcomes might even be measured against a set of criteria, such as in the Cambridge Delta Module 2.
  3. Set Time Period
    Teachers often associate Training with their Continued Professional Development. While Development is continuous, training takes place in a set period of time i.e. within the length of the training course.


Teacher Development

So far, teacher education and training have dealt with specific and limited periods of time in a teacher’s career. Yet, a teacher is always learning, which is where Teacher Development comes in. Underhill (1986: 1) defines development as the process of becoming the best possible teacher, so much so that a developing teacher is one who is constantly questioning their teaching abilities and looking for ways to enhance them.

For Head and Taylor (1997: 1), development is complimentary to training and is seen as something which takes place alongside it. For me, I would say that development is the connector which joins periods of training together. For example: a teacher who has finished a training course, be it the CELTA or something more specific or advanced like the Delta, then goes back into teaching and puts what they have learnt into practice, questioning and experimenting all the time. This ties in with Kolb’s Learning Cycle and any teacher which is goign through this process/cycle is one who is continuously developing.

What About You?

In your experience and opinion, what are the differences between these three terms? Do you feel there is a strong difference between Teacher Training and Teacher Development? I recently posed the same question on social media and got a wide variety of response, including:

Anything that helps me improve as a teacher, from classes, modules and workshops (such as Delta) to reading in the discipline to observing other teachers or being observed and getting feedback (Jenna Lynn Cody)
Self-reflecting and setting my own goals (Richard Lacy)
I think you can’t really develop without some kind of guidance, i.e, a mentor (Jye Smallwood)
What about you? What is your take on this?

5 thoughts on “Training, Education and Development

  1. Teacher trainer focuses more on what the individual is to become (outcomes). Teacher education focuses more on teaching and learning (usually in the context of formal education). And teacher development focuses more on individual characteristics. The three terms are used depending on the aspects of professional learning one wishes to emphasize.


  2. Nice and interesting post. I am not sure most people would agree with you on the definitions but I’ll just speak for myself. I think a course like CELTA is much more on the training side of things. I also think that’s why they call course participants trainees. Perhaps I should explain myself more I think it is training when u.offer a way of doing things and expect this way to learned

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Mike! I used to think of “trainees” as being Celtees but then when I started this Teacher Training course and did some reading as part of it, the term trainee just seems to be used for anyone who is being developed by someone else: either in a direct or indirect way.


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