Tag Archives: trainer

The 2021 CIEP conference: The editing educator

This year’s CIEP conference was held online, from 12 to 14 September. Attendees from all over the world logged on to learn and socialise with their fellow editors and proofreaders, and a number of delegates kindly volunteered to write up the sessions for us. Sheila Korol reviewed The editing educator: What you need to know about teaching editors, presented by Erin Brenner.

Feedback, kindness and humility

Feedback, kindness, and humility were just a few of the keywords that stood out in Erin Brenner’s session on what you need to know about teaching editors.

Having started her own business, Right Touch Editing, in 2005, Erin has been training other editors since 2012. So, speaking from ample first-hand experience, she presented on how teaching can lead to both more income and a deeper understanding of our own editing craft through building relationships with students.

Who’s the best editing instructor?

The first part of Erin’s session addressed knowing whether we’re ready to teach. Since editing takes time to learn, her advice was that editors should have at least two to three years of solid experience first in order to consolidate their understanding of editing procedures, tools, and publishing processes.

Since public speaking is also likely to be a skill we don’t use much in our editing lives, Erin advised on ways to gain experience and confidence in this area. This might be through recording and reviewing your presentation style, joining a group like Toastmasters, or giving short and free talks to small local groups.

A point Erin stressed early on was what she viewed as the ‘right traits’ helpful to both editing and teaching. These include:

  • Humility: accepting we will never be perfect and we will make mistakes
  • Kindness and patience: giving our students time and space to struggle and learn
  • Firmness: setting deadlines and teaching students to be accountable
  • Open-mindedness: accepting that multiple solutions exist and recognising all good work.

How do we teach?

In the second part of her session, Erin explained the importance of editors knowing not only the right content to share with students but also the means of elaborating on and organising information in a way that will help students better retain knowledge in their long-term memory. Some of the key techniques she shared for accomplishing this knowledge transfer include:

  • Low-stakes testing: breaking down knowledge into frequent, smaller tasks such as quizzes, skills practice, and participation to reduce student anxiety
  • Modelling: anonymously sharing both right and wrong work produced in the class
  • Giving detailed feedback: identifying and explaining problems and how to solve them
  • Praising: always encouraging, motivating, and building students’ confidence by frequently pointing out their correct answers.

Where to find teaching opportunities?

Compared to a few decades ago when few options existed, editors today have a multitude of teaching opportunities through several different teaching platforms, timelines, and institutions. Teaching turnover tends to be high in many regular programmes, so the demand is certainly there for interested editors. Places to look for work include colleges and universities, professional training programmes, and editing organisations. Other ideas include searching job boards, cold-calling editing programmes, or networking with instructors. Additionally, more and more editors are now creating and marketing their own individual programmes. It’s worth noting, too, that editors can always reach out to a wider range of language-related fields such as communications, journalism, and marketing.

Overall, if you’re an editor thinking of branching out into teaching, Erin’s presentation was filled with thoughtful and practical ideas to start you on your way.

Sheila Korol is from Canada and an Intermediate Member of the CIEP. An experienced English literature teacher, she lives in Hong Kong where she has set up shop as a freelance proofreader and copyeditor for independent authors, academics, and educational publishers.

Find her on LinkedIn or Twitter.

 

About the CIEP

The Chartered Institute of Editing and Proofreading (CIEP) is a non-profit body promoting excellence in English language editing. We set and demonstrate editorial standards, and we are a community, training hub and support network for editorial professionals – the people who work to make text accurate, clear and fit for purpose.

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Posted by Abi Saffrey, CIEP blog coordinator.

The views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of the CIEP.

From terrified to trainer

By Cathy Tingle

I never planned to be a trainer. I hate speaking in public. My voice is soft and I’m prone to saying ‘um’ and ‘er’ as I struggle to articulate my thoughts. When I get going, I trip over my words. I certainly don’t have what you would call the gift of the gab.

As part of my job, I’d run a couple of courses years ago, fuelled by youth and, I don’t know, luck. Since then, I’d been made redundant, moved city, had kids, and lost confidence the way you do when you’re at home all day interacting with small children and a screen.

So imagine my feelings when I received an email in August 2018 from Margaret Aherne suggesting I take over two of her copyediting courses.

If you’ve not been on one, Margaret’s courses are a treat. Her Publishing Scotland ‘Welcome to’ and ‘Further’ courses in copyediting and proofreading were exactly what I needed as I started out in editing in 2014. She was clearly an expert, vastly experienced, but hilarious with an endearing nerdy slant (keen on steam trains, bus shelters, that sort of thing). Her exercises were masterful – thought through and clever. I signed up for all her Edinburgh courses. Afterwards, we kept in touch by email, and I was secretly hoping she’d write a new course I could attend.

Taking up the mantle

But it wasn’t to be. Family and health stuff meant that Margaret couldn’t make the trip (always by her beloved train) from Bristol to Edinburgh any more. So, did I fancy taking on her Publishing Scotland copyediting courses? Denise Cowle would be running the proofreading ones.

Me? She must have confused me with someone else, or mistaken my shiny-eyed interest (I was a bit of a Margaret groupie) for training ability. But … what an opportunity. I replied with an update on my work and what training I’d run before, adding: ‘I do feel very green and inexperienced compared to you!’ It didn’t seem to put her off and we arranged a meeting.

In the meantime, I almost bottled it. One evening it became crystal clear. What I was I thinking? I could barely string a sentence together with my own family, let alone a set of delegates. I’d never manage Denise’s capable, clear and confident delivery (for I had checked her out on YouTube talking about semicolons). I’d email Margaret and tell her I couldn’t do it. And I did. She was incredibly understanding but gave me the night to think about it and the chance to confirm my decision in the morning.

In the morning, I felt … OK. Still a bit scared, but all right. So it was on again, and I met Margaret a few weeks later in Glasgow, where she talked me through the content of the course and assured me she’d give me advice and guidance whenever I needed it. I hugged her goodbye. It felt like I had been anointed.

Five steps

And so began the long countdown (of around six months) to delivering my first day-long course. What did I do to prepare? Here are my tips for going from terrified to trainer.

  1. Familiarise yourself with the content. Nothing makes you confident like knowing your stuff. So I made sure I was completely au fait with everything in the course. I looked out for extra examples and other material that could augment the learning points. Becoming familiar with the content also involves anticipating questions. The course included a section on grammar and punctuation. What if the delegates asked hard questions at that point? Time to raise my game. When the opportunity arose, I volunteered to take over ‘A Finer Point’ in Editing Matters from Luke Finley.
  2. Read a book. Sounds like a cop-out, doesn’t it? But it will give you a chance to get your thoughts in order. It will also make you realise that your situation is far from unique. I read How to Own the Room by Viv Groskop, which contains case studies of well-known women speaking in public. The book told me: ‘You can’t get around fear. You can only go through it. And the way to go through it is to speak in public and get more used to it.’ Argh. Was there no other way?
  3. Talk to an experienced trainer. I went to see someone my sister knew who had decades of training experience. He gave me some great ideas for icebreakers and tips for dealing with questions. He also pointed out that nerves are a bit of vanity, aren’t they? The day’s not about you. Above all, though, he listened to my concerns, was encouraging, and told me the story of when he found himself dry heaving from nerves in the toilets of No 10 Downing Street before running a training session. So.
  4. Practise. Viv Groskop said it. The best way to feel better about the whole thing was to do it, or a version of it. So I put myself on the rota of people that give the welcome and notices at church, to get used to being confronted with expectant faces and hearing the sound of my own voice. The most useful experience was when I didn’t realise I was down for one Sunday, turned up as the service started and was told: ‘Thank goodness you’re here! We didn’t think you were coming!’ So I had to get a lightning brief and just go out there and do it. My slightly breathless delivery, some of it on the verge of giggles, was complimented. Coming across as human obviously worked.
  5. Make the takeaways good. I wasn’t kidding myself that the delegates would hold on to my every word, and I wanted to relieve a little of the pressure on my performance, so I made sure that there was an exhaustive resources list and prepared a ‘keep in touch’ sheet so I could email everyone with the presentation. This would also be useful as a vehicle for answering any questions that completely stumped me. I could say, ‘I can’t answer that now, but I’ll look it up and let you all know’.

And that was all I could do in the time I had. I was still nervous on the day. I always am. I’ve done three training courses now – two whole days and a half (with Denise running the other half) – but the more training I do, the more I enjoy it. After coming home from the first day-long course I had to have a lie down; the second time I went out in the evening. So it must be getting easier. Comments from the delegates have been positive. One made me laugh: ‘Cathy is nice and quite funny’. Only ‘quite’! Looks like I still have a way to go before I’m a Margaret.

Cathy TingleCathy Tingle is a CIEP Advanced Professional Member, based in Edinburgh. Her business, DocEditor, specialises in non-fiction editing. She runs ‘Introduction to Copy-editing’ and the copyediting section of ‘Further Copy-editing and Proofreading’ for Publishing Scotland. Like Denise Cowle’s ‘Introduction to Proofreading’ course for Publishing Scotland, both courses attract three CIEP upgrade points and are offered at a discounted rate for CIEP members.


In March 2020, the Society for Editors and Proofreaders (SfEP) became the Chartered Institute of Editing and Proofreading (CIEP).


Photo credits: laptop on table Patrick Robert Doyle; chairs and flipchart Kovah, both on Unsplash.

Proofread by Alice McBrearty, Entry-Level Member.
Posted by Abi Saffrey, CIEP blog coordinator.

The views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of the CIEP.