ELT'oSpHere

Aslı Saglam's Blog about CPD in ELT

Blogging: An Adventure in Professional Development

June23

At the IATEFL 2015 Annual Conference I gave a presentation about potential contribution of blogging to professional development in a forum. It was the first time that I participated in a forum and it was a very enriching experience because all presenters focused on blogging from different perspectives.

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With the advance of technology and proliferation of Online Communities of Practice blogging has become a promising form of continuous professional development for the networked educators. Many researchers, educators and bloggers concur blogging may bring about opportunities for cooperative learning, connecting, sharing, and reflecting. I have been an avid blogger for more than 5 years and my blog had witnessed and accumulated accounts of my journey as a learning teacher. This presentation described a case study which explored posts of an academic blogger who had been utilising blogging as a form of professional learning and presented an approach which other educators might employ as a means for their professional development.

Affordances of Academic Blogging

Potential opportunities afforded by academic blogging involve exposure to insights and experiences of others in the blogging community, engagement with professional learning and networking. Blogs are instrumental for professional development because they enable networking which is an important asset in the digital age. It is often remarked that sharing-dissemination of information- is an important responsibility of the modern educator. In addition, blogs can support professional identity development by making one’s particular values and perspectives and thinking public and explicit (de Moor & Efimova, 2004 in Luehman, 2008) and by developing social alliances and affinity groups. Networked educators bond through shared practices, goals, endeavours, and interactions that support identity development (Gee, 2001, in Luehman, 2008). Furthermore, blogs provide opportunities for reflective practice which is characterised as “a process of internal dialogue facilitated by thinking or writing and through external dialogues and reflection together with others” (Gee, 2001, in Luehman, 2008).

Reflective writing was considered the major form of reflective action within reflection-on-action, that is reflection before or after teaching. The 5Rs Framework is suggested as an effective implementation strategy guiding reflective practices and triggering reflective writing (Bain, 2002).

Table 1

The 5Rs Framework for Reflection

5R Framework What is it? Critical Questions to Ask
Reporting A brief descriptive account of a situation / issue (ie. the reflective trigger) What happened, what the situation and issue involved
Responding Your emotional / personal response to the situation / issue etc Your observations, feelings, questions about the situation
Relating Personal and/or theoretical understandings relevant to the situation / issue Making connections between the situation and your experience, skills, knowledge and understanding
Reasoning Your explanation of the situation / issue Explaining the situation in terms of the significant factors, relevant theory and/or experience
Reconstructing Drawing conclusions and developing a future action plan Your deeper level of understanding about the situation- issue that is used to reframe reconstruct your future practice and further develop your understanding of professional practice

 

Using a case study approach, my study aimed to examine the content of 30 blog posts to ascertain the role of written reflection in improving my professional knowledge and my teaching. Guided by Hatton and Smiths’ framework (1995) for Levels of Reflection, content analysis traced verbal manifestations highlighting hints of change in pedagogical beliefs and practices.

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Figure 1 Hatton and Smiths’ Framework; Levels of Reflection (1995)

Findings

Blog posts which were categorised under “descriptive reflection” usually listed reasons why topic of the writing could be a challenge, referred to relevant literature, explored own professional practices and portrayed professional and personal reasons to instigate action. Blog posts bearing qualities of “dialogic reflection” often highlighted the process of making deliberate connections between my pedagogical beliefs and classroom practices. Some blog posts were identified as “critical reflection” because they triggered constructing and reconstruction of my understanding of realities of teaching and thus leading to a development of a deeper understanding of my own teaching as well as devising future action plans.

Conclusion

Blogging appears to offer a potentially rich and transformative means of continuous professional development since it may empower critical analysis for reflection. Consequently this dialogic reflection, sharing and cooperative learning may transform pedagogical beliefs and practices.

In sum, I think I learned a lot as a professional from reflective blog writing and I was happy to share my retrospective case study with other colleagues at IATEFL 2015.

You can find further details in my slides below.

Insights from Richard Kiely

October17

Prof.Richard  Kiely gave a webinar that was organised by British Council Turkey and delivered a plenary speech on “The learning of new teachers in TESOL” at Marmara University International Symposium, “Foreign Language Education and Its Applications in Prep Classes” last week.

His book on course evaluation was one of our course books at my doctorate program at Yeditepe University, and therefore, it was my pleasure to meet him at the conference.

He kindly accepted to answer a few questions.

  1. 1.       You looked relaxed and totally in control when you were presenting virtually on ADOBE Connect and I know that it was your first webinar. What did you think of this virtual event? Do you think webinars, on-line communities of practice and MOOCs  could be the future of teacher education?

 Yes, it was my first webinar, so thanks for observing that I looked relaxed. It was not my first tele-conference, so I am accustomed to speaking to groups via the computer. Perhaps two factors facilitated my relaxed participation: first I was in my office at Marjon in Plymouth, UK, my usual workplace, and second, I was speaking about a topic area and research study with which I am familiar.

2.       What should ideal pre-service and in-service teacher development encompass in your opinion? How do teachers learn best? How can teacher experience turn into expertise?

Difficult questions, and really important ones: all institutiona and governments would like the ‘magic bullet’ to address these questions. In my view there is no magic bullet, in terms of a technique, or single course design. The focus is on developing the people, and this is likely to be achieved in a social learning situation:

where novice and expert do things together,

talk about what they are doing,

the experts shows and talks through,

with the novice observing and asking for tips and explanations,

with opportunities for the novice to practice, which is evaluated in a constructive way,

and a desire for a high level of achievement becomes part of the novice’s plan for life.

 

This kind of process ‘furnishes the imagination’ (Kiely & Askham TESOL Quartlerly Sept 2012)

 

3.       In your research study “Trinity College London Cert TESOL Impact Study” you examined the impact of a four-week teacher training programme. You mentioned the significance of “performance in professional identity, which has the potential to lead on-going, situated learning”. Can you further expand this point?

I supppose the key point from our research participants is the extent to which they wanted to know, to be good at TESOL, to identify with the kind of practices they had come to admire. It is these affiliating goals which shape the identity.

 

4.       What were some of the other striking findings?

Many findings, but one striking one was the challenge of dealing with the range of materials in TESOL work contexts. Especially where e-learning platforms and the internet are taken into account, the task of becoming familiar with available materials is a huge one for novice teachers. Many wanted to select their own materials, not just follow the coursebook, but were overwhelmed by the range available. An additional issue here is the time required for scanning electronic resources: we just cannot do that (listen to or read through  materials such as videos, for example) as efficiently as we can printed materials.

 

5.       Finally, in your opinion how can research (in-class as well as following the literature) contribute to teacher education?

My basic position – pro teacher research – is informed by two axiomatic points:

  1. We are in a post-method period in ELT. Teachers have to develop their own practice, which involves iunderstanding what works for them in their different classroom contexts. Research is a tool which can help teachers in that understanding.
  2. What teachers do when they teach is complex – too much going on in classrooms for teachers to remember everything and use what happened in the normal cycles of reflection and improvement. Research provides tools to look more closely at classroom interaction, such that teachers become more aware of the features of their practice, and over time develop professionally by extending what works well, and minimising what does not seem to work well.

Thanks a lot for your time and I really hope that you enjoyed your trip to Turkey.

I look forward to returning to Turkey – I met such fascinating people.

Hi-Tech Approaches to Teacher Development

May28

Yesterday with my lovely friend Elif (Soltay), I gave a workshop at a joint event of  IATEFL Teacher Development SIG and Learning
Technologies SIG at Yeditepe University.

The Conference happened to be a fabulous event with superstar keynote speakers, involving Scott Thornbury, Lindsay Clanfield, Duncan Foord, Gavin Dudeney, Graham Stanley, Nick Robinson among many others.

Furthermore, there were many workshops loaded with highly beneficial ideas for the interaction between educational technologies and newly emerging forms of teacher training networks (e.g. CoP, VIA, EVO…etc.).Many thanks go to Burcu Akyol and her team for organising such a stimulating and fruitful event.

Our session was entitled “Hi- Tech Approaches to Teacher Education”. Our purpose was to showcase possible chances for teacher professional development on the internet within the frame of constructs in the TPACK framework from Mishra and Koehler (2006) in Graham, 2011. So on one hand there is teacher’s cognition and on the otherhand, there is effect of technology. Our beloved colleagues supported us by voicing their opinions on VoXoPoP. We asked them whether they received any training about using educational technologies in ELT either in pre-service or in-service training and whether they use technology in their classes. This is what they said:

Discussion » Welcoming remarks and Asli’s reflection 🙂

Also, we would like to thank the participants of our workshop who crowned our efforts with their positive feedback.

 

INSET; Imagining Never-ending Support for Education of Teachers

March8

I hope that you liked my explanantation for what INSET stands for :))

In my mind I have a metaphor for in-service training (INSET) which is that of a beehive. I think that a beehive represents the benefits and rewards that could be associated with an effective INSET such as working together towadrs and aim cooperatively. In the end there is honey…

But also there are some points to consider in order to have the optimum conditions for a group to share common goals and walk towards the same direction. Therefore in my mind INSET has the picture of a beehive.

Definitions of INSET

There are various focus points when scholars provide definition of in-service training (INSET) courses. Cited in Bayrakci (2009),
Locke defined INSET as continuum of the teacher’s education upon receiving their certification, highlighting the life-long learning aspect of teacher training (p.10). Cimer et. al (2010) reported Bolam’s definition which perceived  INSET as a series of training
activities that engage secondary and primary school teachers and principals, and these professional endeavours are intended to further their professional knowledge, skills and attitudes in order to provide children with more effective instruction. Also INSET is commonly perceived as teacher training which aims to bridge discrepancy between theory and practice as well as operationalizing
the curricular innovations.

Professional development and INSET

After pre-service training, many teachers feel the need for further training because teacher knowledge is multi-faceted demanding life-long
learning and pre-service training is often inappropriate to provide the teachers with real-life skills in the class. Keiny (1994, In Simsek 2007, p.32) defined professional development as “a process of professional growth” and claimed that professional development requires teachers to examine their practice in order to build their own theories of teaching. Simsek (2007) cited the following to stress this continuum:

“Lange (1990, p. 253) states that teacher development is a term used in the literature to describe a process of continual, intellectual,
experiential, and attitudinal growth of teachers. This growth is caused by the pre-service and in-service programs teachers attend. However, development is when teachers continue to evolve in the use, adaptation of their art and craft.
It is the continuance of that evolution that teacher education programs seek but rarely establish” (Simsek 2007, p. 32).

Knowledge for Teachers vs. Teacher Knowledge

Connelly and Clandinin (2000, In Simsek 2007) make a distinction between knowledge for teachers and teacher knowledge. “The
teachable knowledge is labelled ‘‘knowledge for teachers’’ and can be identified, put into a curriculum, taught so that it becomes an inherent
characteristics of the teacher, and may be tested”(p.32). As teachers gain experience in the profession this kind of knowledge merges with teachers’ self-perception and their personal practical knowledge. Simsek (2007) equates this transformed knowledge, teacher’s personal practical knowledge, ‘‘teacher knowledge’’.

Why is INSET important?

According to Cimer et. al (2010, p. 31) “teachers are provided with the knowledge and skills required for teaching in schools during their pre-service education. However, there is no pre-service education or training programme that can offer a codified body of knowledge or recipe to warrant success during the teaching career in different contexts. Therefore, in order for teachers to accommodate changes and innovations and to keep informed about developments in education, they need to be educated during their career too”.  In this sense, in-service training (INSET)
courses are of vital importance not only in catering for gap in teachers’ knowledge but also in introducing changes and innovations to teachers and facilitating change.

Do you have INSET courses at your institutions? If not, what could teachers-US- do to support development? How?

Would you agree that INSETs benefit us in terms of professional development? Which conditions are necessary for optimum environment that is conducive to learning? It would be great to hear different voices.

 

 I hope that you share your experience… 🙂

 

 

References

Cimer, S., Cakir, I. And Cimer, A. (2010) Teachers’ views on the effectiveness of in-service courses on the new curriculum in Turkey
European Journal of Teacher Education, 33 (1), 31–41.

Bayrakcı, M. (2009). In-Service Teacher Training in Japan and Turkey: A comparative Analysis of Institutions and Practices. Australian
Journal of Teacher Education, 34(1), 10-21

Simşek, H. , Yıldırım, A. (2001). The Reform of Pre-service Teacher Education in Turkey.”Challenge and Change in the Euro-Mediterranean Region: Case Studies inEducational Innovation”, 411-432

Six Impossible Things that Teachers Do

January24

Six Impossible Things that ELT Teachers Do

In “Alice in Wonderland” one of the best scenes is when Alice talks about “the six impossible things” to gain her strength when she faces her biggest challenge (a fierce fight with Jabberwocky)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YhzLsBpIj84

 

Don’t you have some difficult and challenging moments in the classroom when you need to stay focused to cope with them? I do.

So, I decided to make my own list of six impossible things that teachers do to aid me in those moments.

  1. Identify the needs, interests, language difficulties (L2 learners of English lack basic interactional competencies) and learning styles of the students and cater for these.
  2. Select, introduce and exploit suitable materials for improvement of language (not only
    to be used in class but also for out)
  3. Assess progress of the individual students and the whole class
  4. Keep affective filters down by fostering positive group dynamics (cooperation, mutual respect, confidence…etc.)
  5. Encourage students to be life-long learners and take responsibility of their own learning.
  6. Help students develop learning strategies.

What do you think? Don’t we make the impossible happen? What else are there that you would like to add to the list suggested
above?

In “Tasks for Language Teachers” Parrott (2006,np.30) outlined roles of teachers as diagnostician, planner, manager and
provider. I would like to suggest one more: The Miracle  Maker

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