Richard Smith writes …
The EVO2018 on classroom-based research (particularly designed for teachers in relatively ‘difficult circumstances’, but open to all) officially got underway a week ago with opening-up of a website page encouraging the 240 registered participants to describe their classroom and, in a separate task, a recent success in their teaching. They were also invited to watch and comment on videos from the British Council’s ‘Teaching in Low-resource classrooms’ video resource.
The second week’s website page was launched today with a webinar hosted by Paula Rebolledo and Richard Smith in which they explained how to develop a research focus and identify research questions. During the coming week participants will share their own concerns and research questions via a Google+ community and receive mentoring – this year twenty-five mentors volunteered to be on hand to offer guidance, though participants will also be interacting with one another as critical friends to clarify problems and questions. The next webinar (about research methods) is on Saturday 27th January at 3pm GMT. All – whether registered or not – are welcome to the Adobe Connect online webinar room kindly loaned by IATEFL Research SIG. And all are also welcome to join the EVO’s Facebook group and interact there.
Review by Sal Consoli:
Edited by Richard Smith, Amol Padwad and Deborah Bullock. London: The British Council, 66pp. Online: https://www.teachingenglish.org.uk/article/teaching-low-resource-classrooms-voices-experience
This book was inspired by the recognition that in many countries around the world English is often taught in ‘low-resource’ classrooms, and therefore what mainstream research and published pedagogical materials offer is not entirely suitable for such contexts. Indeed, there are few training materials which are derived from and which reflect such ‘low-resource’ classroom realities. Thus, this book intends to make a step towards bridging this gap. The stories and accompanying reflective tasks included in this volume can be used informally and adaptively by teachers for reflection on and as part of their own practice as well as for discussion in teacher groups/associations or in-service workshops. They could also be used in formal teacher education for trainee-teachers who may work in difficult circumstances.
The key actors behind the development of the book are teachers from Bangladesh, India, Nepal and Pakistan who took part in a five-day Hornby Regional School in Kathmandu, Nepal on ‘Teaching in the Low-Resource Classroom’. The workshop itself was directed and facilitated by Richard Smith with Amol Padwad and Jovan Ilic. (For a sense of what went on in the school watch this short video.)
The book accompanies – and is linked to — a set of video-recorded oral presentations by teachers, with accompanying questions for reflection and discussion which focus on success in low-resource primary and secondary classrooms. In these presentations individual teachers share recent experiences which they regard as ‘successful’. There are also presentations centring upon materials and methodology in low-resource classrooms, managing low-resource classrooms and diversity in low-resource classrooms. These presentations were an opportunity for groups of teachers to share ideas for good practice which they had gathered from other teachers at the school in relation to particular issues which were important to them.
The central theme which emerges from the book and from the video-recorded presentations is that of ‘resourcefulness’ – the teacher and students themselves can be valuable human resources, and this is especially necessary when material resources are lacking. Whilst this does not mean stopping any endeavour to develop better material resources for such settings, it is worth noting that there are already crucial human resources which should not be ignored.
With a focus on teacher-research for difficult circumstances, this TESOL CALL-IS Electronic Village Online (EVO) experience will be live again in January–February 2018, with a large team of voluntary mentors. Mentoring is available to all, and the EVO provides a hands-on introduction to inquiry-based teacher development, especially (though not exclusively) for teachers working in difficult circumstances (large classes, low-resource classrooms, etc.). The five-week syllabus will take participants through different stages of teacher-research, engaging them in practical activities to gradually build their confidence in teacher-research.
Registration begins on 1st January 2018 and activities begin on 14th January, going on until 17th February, requiring a commitment of 2-3 hours per week. There will also be some final presentations by participants online in March. Participation will be absolutely free.
Before we open registration on January 1st 2018, you can, in the meantime, join the Classroom-based research for professional development Facebook group, to obtain updates and reminders.
Sophie O’Keefe writes:
This year English Australia, in partnership with Cambridge English Language Assessment and with the support of key reference person Anne Burns, marks the eighth year of the Action Research in ELICOS Program. This award-winning program supports teachers to systematically plan, act, observe and reflect on practical approaches to a ‘problematic’ aspect of their teaching and share the outcomes of their research with others.
In 2017, nine teachers from around Australia worked on six projects related to the theme of Teaching, learning and assessing listening. In the colloquium at the English Australia conference, following a brief introduction to the program, the theme and to action research by Anne Burns and Sophie O’Keefe, the teachers who participated will each present a brief outline of the main findings of their research.
This year’s projects explored the following themes:
- How mobile based technologies influence the teaching of listening and student engagement in listening tasks;
- Comparing the outcomes of student controlled and teacher controlled intensive listening tasks;
- SIP and Listen: How does raising awareness of Stress, Intonation and Pausing affect listening skills?;
- Exploring the effects of metacognitive and grammatical awareness on students’ listening of short bursts of speech;
- Using active listening skills to improve listening comprehension in expository discussions; and
- How can teaching phonemic awareness impact on students’ listening (& note-taking) skills?
Sophie O’Keefe is Professional Development Manager, English Australia
Amol Padwad writes:
The AINET International Teacher Research Conference, the first of its kind in India, is being held on 14-15 September 2017 in Nagpur. The event aims to bring together teachers with some experience of and/or interest in teacher research (TR), mentors and leaders who have been supporting TR work in India and overseas, and representatives of various agencies involved in teacher education and training. While many teachers share their TR studies in the conference, several speakers will dwell on issues, challenges and opportunities in TR. There will be some hands-on workshops on different aspects/ skills of TR, which beginner teacher researchers may find particularly useful. In a unique session some mentors will share insights and ideas from their TR mentoring experience. We hope that this event triggers a strong and widespread TR interest and begins the building of a TR community in the country and the region.
For more details, visit http://theainet.net/ainet-international-teacher-research-conference-14-15-sept-2017-nagpur/ or write to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Amol Padwad is Secretary of AINET, the All-India Network of English Teachers.
Exploratory Practice discussions at the Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro (PUC-Rio), 26 July 2017
Report by Cecilia Nobre
The afternoon (see more information here) started with a display of various posters around the patio. Teachers were engaged in talking us through their puzzles and promptly answered all questions I asked. Some teachers were paired up, while others worked individually. Some posters showed pictures of their students, written work or drawings designed by their students.
I had the chance to interview some student-teachers (see the link above for my interviews) and ask them how exploratory practice helped them identify and investigate their own beliefs as well as students’ beliefs and assumptions. One of my favourite posters was about a puzzle where the student-teacher asked “Who are my students” and “Why do they mock each other all the time?”. The student-teacher wanted to investigate why it seemed that their teenage students did not focus in class while they mock their peers.
The second part of the event took place in the classroom where student-teachers, course tutors Ines Miller, Sabine Mendes, Maria Isabel Cunha and visitor-teachers gathered together to share their experiences, some slightly emotional, in taking part in the exploratory practice sessions.
I’m really glad I had the opportunity to attend such event. It was a great afternoon of learning and sharing. I hope to bring some of what I learnt to my future practice.
Today’s Festival event was a conversation chaired by Mark Wyatt about the above three recently published books on/of teacher-research, with Kenan Dikilitas, Sian Etherington and Richard Smith.
The (one-and-a-half hour) recording is now available in case you missed it.
The conversation was wide-ranging,and took in several interesting aspects of teacher-research, as well as how it can be written about. There were participants from Brazil, Chile, India, Turkey and other countries who played an active role in posting questions and comments, several of which were addressed during the conversation. Many thanks to Mark Wyatt for organizing this event, and to IATEFL Research SIG for providing the Adobe Connect room in which it took place.
We’re now looking forward to our next event, which will be a 26 July discussion about teacher-education involving practitioner research at PUC-Rio in Rio de Janeiro, one of the homes of Exploratory Practice. We’ll be tweeting about this @trfestiva and Cecilia Nobre will blog about it here for us. Looking forward to it!