IATEFL 2018: Labels – not the way forward! – Adrian Tennant

Adrian Tennant is a free lance teacher trainer, writer and consultant who works in a lot of different contexts world-wide. He plans to talk for 15 mins and then have time afterwards to discuss things. His talk is on labels.

Last August, he watched a programme on BBC called Without Limits. BBC had put together 6 disabled people to travel round Vietnam sightseeing and trying out things. One with autism, one who had lost an arm, one who had lost her legs. While he was watching that, he was a bit queasy by the whole idea and then one of the participants said they weren’t sure whether to take part as originally the title had the word disability in it while they prefer difability – different ability. Likewise “non-native” means lacking, not being something.

He saw a quote on Fair List, written by Allport – The human mind must think with the aid of categories….Once formed, categories are the basis for normal prejudgment. We cannot possibly avoid this process. Orderly living depends upon it.

Adrian asks if we should have disorderly living then. He doesn’t think orderly living depends on categories and labels. They are divisive. They are social constructs to create categories of us and them. He also thinks positive discrimination is an oxymoron. The only examples he has come across, particularly in education, have failed. E.g. universities in South Africa have dropped from being ranked in the top 2 or 3 to much much lower. So we need to be careful about how we go about trying to removing bias. It’s not that he doesn’t believe in equity, he does, but castigating people because they are a certain thing and it worries him.

We had to discuss gender. It can be a spectrum or you can say there as many genders as people who say they identify as x gender say they are. Adrian went on to say a mixed ability class is stating the obvious. There’s a couple of groups advocating things like gender equality and native-non native equality. In this case you are still categorising and labelling using the same kinds of labels being used all along.

He wants to propose a new framework. Which is “Do you have the competency to do the job?” = subject knowledge, communication skills, patience, compassion… what they don’t need is to be a particular gender or nationality. As a profession, we are still wedded to labels. By using labels, you are setting people up in those constructs, which perpetuates the issues. What competencies do you need to be a good conference presenter? Something new to offer, able to tailor to the audience, confidence, self-assurance, charismatic.

For the rest of the talk, there was discussion about blind selection (an example was how the number of female players in an orchestra doubled when the selection was done blind) and about labels with negative connotations (reluctant reader). One lady said she had been approached to do a plenary because the conference in question didn’t have enough female speakers. The question being “do you only want me because I am a woman then?” . I couldn’t get a word in edge-ways but my feeling was that it’s all very well having a competency approach but the characteristics we came up with in terms of what you need to be a good presenter are things that you need experience of presenting in order to develop them. And if traditionally a certain segment of the population has been favoured, they will have developed those competencies more so than people who haven’t had the opportunity. However, this all seemed to be more about selection than labels as such. I think labels are useful, personally. It’s how we use them, the connotations we attach, the prejudice we attach that is the issue. Otherwise, it’s all vocabulary and we need vocabulary to discuss issues. 

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IATEFL 2018: English teaching in the post-truth era – James Taylor

My first session for Wednesday is James’s talk about English teaching in the post-truth era, conveniently located in the same room as my own talk which was in the first slot of the day. 

This isn’t about teaching students to think, or teaching them politics or make them think like us. It’s is, however, useful, to provide them with tools to enable them to interact with this media in a way that they can make informed decisions.

In 2016 a survey showed that 44% of American adults get their news from Facebook. So adults are mainly sharing these stories around without questioning them. They are just as much in need of these tools as young people. People make assumptions, put 2 and 2 together and make 10. (Or, daisies + mutations = Fukashima) In a study using the mutated daisies image was so powerful that the source was ignored. 40% students argued that the post provided strong evidence because it was taken near the power plant.

Distinguishing what is true from what is not true is an important skill. Exposing fake news, being aware that there is fake news, is key. In the future, we may see videos created of people saying things that they have never said – technologically becoming possible. So the issue that we find with images and text will be seen with videos too.

Key skills for identifying fake news

  • ability to discriminate between a trusted and an unreliable source. Need to be able to step back and make judgements, questioning the reliability.
  • need to be able to recognise when verification is necessary (not enough time to do it All The Time)
  • internet literacy (URLS, links, About section, date of publication) If there are no links, it’s a red flag, why isn’t it linking to another source of information. If there is no information about who is behind the site, historical background, author background/qualification to talk about the subject. Something true 10 years ago may not still be true now.
  • recognising bias – essential for reacting critically rather than taking something at face value
  • Finding a source – finding original source material to find out what was actually said (e.g. in reporting of scientific studies)
  • Cross-checking against other sources
  • Using fact-checkers (lots of good ones online e.g. Snopes)
  • Identifying satire e.g. The Onion, fake, meant to be fake, meant to be funny, not meant to be read as truth. Need to be able to identify jokes!
  • Preventing confirmation bias – i.e. ignoring all the things that go against what you believe. We tend to look for reassurance/to have our opinions backed up. But that creates the echo chamber and you lose access to the truth.

[This is exactly the kind of thing we try to teach our students to help them find good sources for their academic writing! We call it source evaluation. Though not the last three in this list.]

There are lots of resources to help with this. I suggest you look through James’s blog post for these

As English teachers how do we see ourselves? Are we grammar and vocab delivery systems or can we do more than that? We don’t have a subject (e.g. history), we can talk about anything we like. So we can work on these kind of skills in the classroom while teaching language.

 

IATEFL 2018: Social Intelligence for Teachers – Margit Szezty

What is Social Intelligence (SI)?

It is the ability to get on with others, to interact with others, successfully. Based on a deep connection, with yourself (aware of own feelings and emotions) and narrowing the gap between how you think you come across to others an how you relly come across to others. Also based on a connection with others, being aware of how they are feeling, being able to connect with them and tune in to them. In some ways it’s about switching off the autopilot. It is also about impulse control – the gap between impulse and reaction. E.g. in a social situation when you want to respond to something that someone has said, that is your impulse, what you actually say is your reaction. There needs to be a pause between the two.

Surface and deep level features

3 surface-level features (visible – have to do with behaviour and speech):

  • starting a conversation with someone (in itself not so easy sometimes)
  • directing the conversation (many conversations are ritualistic at the beginning, in order to move beyond the superficial you need to direct it rather than letting it happen to you)
  • speaking with clarity and turn-taking (don’t monologue)

Deeper level features

  • Mindsight (able to read other peoples’ emotions – perhaps by facial expression, tone of voice, pace; not just  hearing their words)
  • The ability to hold ideas loosely (being able to cope with ambiguity in conversations and not being disturbed by it. You say something with precision but then you let go of it)
  • Awareness of other people around you, aware that you are sharing time and space with others.

SI has an individual and a group dimension. It’s a property of the individual but it is also the emerging property of a group. You can activate it, then if the group is acting intelligently, they are harmonised and together and a group mind is activated. Margit asked us to estimate how many people were in the room and how many countries are represented, to make us more aware of the rest of the people in the room. In order to estimate the number of countries, you have to have a closer look. In a classroom, asking who is absent can have the same effect (makes them look more carefully at the group as a whole).

<Word association game in groups.> To have a discussion in a group, you need to move into group mode first. That was the purpose of the game.

Why do teachers need social intelligence? Three circles – in the middle classroom. Lots of relationships. It’s important for teachers to know what is going on in the classroom and be able to pick up signs of anxiety, excitement etc and work with it. The second circle is society. Students and teachers move in and out of the classroom into society, where collaboration with others is often required. E.g. workplace, family etc. Learning to work together and collaborate is important. The third circle stands for the living planet. The very carefully balanced ecosystem around that we are part of. One of the most important things are social intelligence is about connection, with self, with others, with the planet (which humans seem to have lost). If we go on endangering it, we are endangering ourselves. It is not our individual activities, it is the cumulative effect, the total sum, which have unintended and ‘invisible’ consequences as we live in a comfortable, convenient micro-world. We need to move into the third level to be more aware of our effect. Social intelligence is intrapersonal, interpersonal and ecological.

Tools for raising awareness of SI

  • 3 positions and NLP – not physical positions but perceptual positions. Our three main positions are 1) the Me position (as a teacher, this is my lesson plan, this is what I want to do/achieve) 2) the You position, the empathy position (looking around and picking up on others’ feelings. It can be a bit overwhelming.) 3) The helicopter view (The ability to stand back and see the situation – yourself and your students – from the outside. Useful when things get overwhelming)
  • 6 thinking hats – Edward deBono identified six different ways of thinking, each given a different coloured hat. Red is impulsive, gut reaction thinking, White stands for information, collecting facts and figures. Yellow is positive thinking. Green is creativity. Blue is the overview hat (like the helicopter view, the awareness hat)
  • Stories – Margit told us a story abut a deep dark forest with two protagonists. 2 men are lost. One is blind, the other is lame. They have been wondering around for ages trying to find their way out. They meet and start talking. The man with the vision has a thought – sees a powerful, young man, and suggests that he get on his shoulders as he has good eyesight but cannot walk, and together they could find their way out of the forest. This is what happens, and out they go.

Enemies of Social Intelligence

What makes it difficult to be socially intelligent?

  • Fear (of failure)
  • Being programmed
  • Upbringing
  • Cultural influence

Individualism and collectivism can both affect social intelligence/not favour it. One of the biggest obstacles is authority. Being able to think critically is important.

IATEFL 2018 Queering your pedagogy: teachers’ queries out of the closet – Giovanni Licata

Giovanni is head of TT at IH Rome Manzoni.

Task 1: We had to a look at a picture of his hand and discuss what we could tell about him from the photo. (He plays a guitar, is left-handed, is married, likes rings… maybe… we will see…) Task 2: Complete the statement “I have nothing against LGBT people but..” The reason for this slide is that sometimes we talk about queering pedagogy but are teachers really ready for this? The question is “Can I come out?” The answer appears to be “You can! But don’t be ostentatious!” He had a conversation with someone who had nothing against… but doesn’t see why we always have to talk about our partner etc etc. Yet she was doing the same thing… Enter…

Heteronormativity

“Heteronormativity consists of those structures, institutions, relations and actions that promote heterosexuality as natural, self-evident, desirable, privileged and necessary” Cameron and Kulick, 2003. E.g. There are lots of interviews asking straight actors what it’s like to play gay characters but not vice versa i.e. gay actors playing straight roles.

Two main things involved in teaching and LGBTQA+ teaching materials.

  1. Inclusive materials
  2. Teacher attitude

1999 – Thornbury stated that LGBT people are still in the coursebook closet. In 2013 not much had changed. Ten famous coursebooks: no reference to any sexual orientation other than heterosexual. Some books use the problem approach – lists gay families under issues alongside gun control, prostitution, child abuse…can we see the issue with this? There is also the “mentioning approach” e.g. mentioning uses of the word ‘partner’ and the “Inquiry approach” – let’s adopt a multisexual approach and problematise ALL sexualities.

Unpacking heteronormativity

We looked at a coursebook spread about “Getting married” from Headway. Giovanni had to teach this lesson last minute a couple of years ago. He started with “What’s missing? Talk to your partner” – Older people, same sex people etc.

Giovanni isn’t suggesting we ignore the approaches discussed so far, but wants to add “The GPS Approach” – help teachers get started.

He did a study on teachers’ attitudes towards LGBTQ themes in their classes. The findings were as follows:

Respondents welcomed both an inclusion and inquiry approach as long as they receive training and operate in safe environments.

A teacher with a CPE certificate felt they didn’t have the words to talk to a gay flat mate about it in a respectful way.

The cons they came up with:

 

could be dealt with:

  • in CPD training, by having a seminar on it (rather than the 1000th one on teaching vocab)
  • getting schools actively involved
  • getting publishers involved (!)

A simple task

  1. The others: a simple task – learners to go through their coursebooks and have a look at what’s missing. Then they design a course book page to include these “others”.

Here is a list of “the others” that a young class in Giovanni’s school came up with:

They made some excellent materials including people from their list of others. And no juniors or teens were harmed in the making of this lesson…even when queer themes came up. :-p

Why is all this important?

Morgan (2004) “there is no neutral space in schooling, no ways to insulate oneself from the social consequences of one’s activities” (p176)

 

 

IATEFL 2018: Differentiation at the heart of the inclusive classroom – Emily Hodge

In this session, Emily is going to share some practical strategies for differentiation.

She started by telling a story about her son James who has been living in France for 7 years (with her), he learnt French at school and speaks so well that a lot of his teachers don’t realise he isn’t French. He is at secondary school. He takes an EFL class (!). In September, he had a rubbish day. The teacher said all the students were all A1 and by the year would all be A2 – he didn’t want to be singled out but he was annoyed that the teacher didn’t expect something correct for him. Emily started to think about what she would have done if she were that teacher and about other learner differences that she might have to deal with e.g. these:

Interesting but also overwhelming. How to address these differences that affect learning is a difficult area. Early in her research into this, Emily came across a quote. “Differentiation is simply attending to the learning needs of a student or group of students rather than the more typical pattern of teaching the class as though all individuals in it were basically alike” Carol Tomlinson.

We can differentiate in different ways

  • by content
  • by outcome
  • through support
  • with attitude

By content:

Imagine you have worked out through observing learners, some are quicker than others. You might want to group them and give them different length of texts to do but the same task. All three (for example) texts need to be interesting. All tasks need to be equally valid and interesting. You take away the texts before learners are regrouped and answer the questions. Avoid “busy” tasks, make it something relevant and related to what they have been doing, they should be extended. Be careful with your groupings. You need to be quite subtle about it. Group learners at the beginning according to what you want to do with them, using name cards.

By outcome:

E had been teaching secondary students who had been reading about predictions and were going to practice giving predictions using a fortune teller. Her instruction was, you have five minutes to write 8 sentences (to go inside the fortune teller). Not everybody managed to do that. Emily got the student who had only written two to copy them 4 times so she could still take part in the drill (using the FT). A better way to do the task would be to do an open task. “Write as many sentences as you can in five minutes” so that the strong ones will feel motivated to do more and the weaker ones still succeed.

Giving students choice is good – choose which questions you want to answer, choose how many… Enables self-differentiation according to abilities.

Through support:

Going back to Elsa (who only wrote 2 sentences) – maybe she didn’t have any ideas, maybe she was tired, maybe she saw Eloise who had written 8 already and gave up/felt demotivated. To support her: generating ideas together before being set loose on a task is important. Conferencing – go round, feed in ideas and vocabulary. Provide scaffolding. Is it differentiation if you give everybody the support? Yes as students can choose how much of it to access.

Process language – really interesting because if you get teachers to try and activity before you do it in class, you will find a lot of stalling techniques, collaborative language etc. The students need this language to do the task so feed it in first.

However, none of these things will work if you go into the classroom with the wrong attitude. E.g. saying these things:

These imply a fixed idea about learners, a static state, which isn’t what we should be going for. Instead:

Differentiation is about having an open, enquiring attitude to learners, making subtle but important changes to our teaching and reflecting on what we do. If we make an effort to think about individual learner differences, then it gives everyone including the teacher a possibility to learn.

In planning, as much time should be spent thinking through as making things. It’s necessary time spent.

 

IATEFL 2018: “I don’t want to be a manager – now what?” – Lizzie Pinard

“I don’t want to be a manager – now what?” 

I thought I was probably not the only one ever to have uttered these words and this has, in fact, been confirmed on the several occasions that colleagues have asked me what my topic for IATEFL this year was going to be. There are some teachers, myself included, who don’t want to run a language school, who don’t want to run things, to be in charge. We are happy teaching – be that students or other teachers, in the case of teacher trainers. This doesn’t, however, mean we want to stand still. How can teachers progress their careers if they don’t want to be managers? My talk for this year offers one answer to that question. (NB: sadly the answer doesn’t involve lots of money in most cases!)

Career progression in ELT generally goes something like: train as a teacher (often doing that well-known 4 week initial training course!), build up some skills and experience, perhaps do some further training (e.g. a diploma such as the Delta or Dip TESOL),  become a senior teacher or ADoS, build up some more skills and experience (this time also in management)  and eventually move into a managerial position.

My initial suggestion as an alternative to this linear progression is to diversify:

Try some new hats on. A teacher can become a student again, can do some writing, can do some research, can present. This is nothing new, of course. The question is how to systematise this. What to study? What to write? What to present? What to research? This is where, to my mind, the British Council Framework for CPD could come into it.

That’s all well and good, we have 12 practices covering a range of knowledge and skills but what do we do with this? Well, let’s recognise what it offers us first:

Focus, specificity, ideas. But how to harness these? Here is my suggested approach:

Familiarisation: 

In order to use the framework, you need to be familiar with what it consists of. Download the framework from the British Council Teaching English website and have a flick through so that you can answer the following two questions –

  • What are the 12 professional practices?
  • What are the knowledge and skills within each?

Obviously you don’t need to know the framework by heart, that’s not such a useful skill, but it will help to be more familiar with what is in it as you move on to the following stages of the process.

Identification:

At this stage, you are considering where you are at now, and you can do this in the following ways.

  • Manual  (Ask questions – do I do this? Can I think of concrete examples? How comfortable am I at doing this? Am I good at this? Do I need more work on this? Then once you have identified areas you might like to work on, prioritise them according to your needs/you current context/your goals etc. Where will improvement be the most beneficial to you and your learners?)
  • Digital (British Council TeachingEnglish website tool to help you do this analysis)

Remember –  you are human (you can’t change all the things all at once!)

Exploration:

This is where you –

  • Pick an area
  • Interrogate* it
  • Interrogate yourself and your practice*

(*in the nicest possible way!)

  • Find out what you want to know/change in your practice

In other words,

  • Ask yourself questions
  • Ask yourself more questions
  • Think about the answers
  • Think about how you could start to answer the unanswered questions

Action: 

This is where you –

  • Pick your focus (a question, a theme, a niggle that stands out in your exploration stage)
  • Make a plan  (First…, Second…,)
  • Carry out your plan
  • Monitor the process (keep notes, make adjustments if needed, branch out if needed)

Evaluation:

At this stage, you’re going to ask yourself questions like –

  • What have I learnt?
  • What changes did I make? Why?
  • What effect did they have?
  • Was it anticipated/desired?
  • How do I feel about the changes and results?
  • What next?

In my talk, I took attendees through a step-by-step example of the above process using the “Using inclusive practices” component of the framework. Please refer to my slides (at the end of this post) if you want to do that too. It will probably, hopefully, then make more sense.

I finished off with some ideas of potentially useful resources that teachers might turn to during the above process, before coming to this conclusion:

Click on the above slide to download a copy of my powerpoint.

How have you used the BC framework in your development? Please do share you ideas using the comments box for this post. 🙂

IATEFL 2018 Emotional Intelligence: what makes a manager? (Elena Kuznetsova)

An ironic choice perhaps, given tomorrow I will be giving a talk entitled “I don’t want to be a manager…now what?”, but on the other hand this term (which is all of a week old) I have just started being an ADoS which involves ‘managing’ a small group of teachers amongst other things (again, the irony of this, given tomorrow’s talk, is not lost on me!) and I am hoping I might pick up something useful here…

Elena runs a language school in central Russia, she does some teacher training and emotional intelligence training. She works with people (like most of us) and she helps ELT teachers/managers to develop a friendly learning environment to keep both students and teachers happy, as that is key to success in language learning. She has studied a lot about emotions – how to regulate own emotions and manage them in others – and it’s relevant for working with teachers. Emotions are something that humans have and we have to deal with them in order to do our job better.

The talk structure:

  • What is emotion?
  • What is EI?
  • 4 parts of EI
  • How to develop EI
  • Follow up – do you lead with EI?

Emotion

Emotion comes from the latin for movement, something that moves. The reaction in humans to the environment outside or inside our bodies. Being a manager/coach/teacher, we do not always need to be “happy”. It’s not about being happy or fun all the time. There are no positive or negative emotions. It is a complex cocktail of emotions that drive us in work. We need all emotions to live. “Negative” emotions can be life-saving or help us achieve goals too.

EI is the capacity for recognising and appropriately managing our feelings and those of others. 4 domains: recognising our feelings and those of others, managing of our feelings, and those of others. Being an effective manager is not only about task setting etc but also about rapport, trust, the feeling of team, organisational culture, and how the manager does that is all emotional intelligence competences. The same with teaching in the classroom, we need to build rapport with students, interpersonal relationships have a big effect.

4 basic components of EI

= self-awareness, other awareness, self management and managing emotions of others. The good news is, EI can be trained. The bad news is you can’t jump straight into the fourth component!

Self awareness – understanding the ability to be aware of our own emotions. Being able to recognise what we feel and hopefully to understand why. It’s a physical reaction, sometimes you can identify the reaction in your body e.g. anger = tension, loud voice, sweating, red face. If you are nervous, your stomach is tense. If you are scared, your heart will race. The problem with self-awareness is that the only way to train it is self-reflection. <We had to do a little activity and then say how we felt after – there were lots of different reactions> Then, write as many words as you can describing emotions and feelings. Mine: Excited, happy, sad, upset, disappointed, amused, bereft, jumpy, agitated, anxious, stressed, relaxed, chilled, angry, frustrated, worried, delighted. The point is that to self-reflect, we need some words to describe our feelings. The vocabulary. There are 3-4000 words that describe feelings. Why do we need it? Emotions are very different and in order to understand what we really feel and proceed with regulating the feeling, we need a fine-tuned tool to name it. If we only have “good” or “bad”, it won’t help a lot. So we need to develop emotional vocabulary and become able to name our emotions. Meditating, writing/journalling, reading. Set a reminder in your smartphone with a question: What are you feeling? Randomly and during the day, when you get the reminder, stop for a second and identify what and why.

Self-management – the problem is, the emotions we feel lead to (sometimes unpredictable) behaviour. Of course we don’t want to do that in the office (or with our family!) <We looked at some situations and had to write what we usually feel and do. Child spills milk on carpet – annoyed but oh well sh*t happens. Overwhelmed but your boss gives you more work – anxious and ‘how the fk should I do all this?’ Etc. Then we had to write down how we would like to react. So for the first, maybe I want to stay calm and not be annoyed. For the second, again I probably want to stay calm. How to get from 1 to 2?

  1. recognise that you are having an emotional reaction
  2. label the emotion
  3. determine what triggered the emotion
  4. choose what you want to feel and what you want to do
  5. actively shift/downshift your emotional state

Then we had to discuss ideas for no 5. Take a walk/step back, talk about it, write down how you feel. We also discussed tendency to avoid confrontation where possible.

Suggestions from Elena:

  • Shift your mental focus
  • Change your posture
  • Smile (looks silly but works!)
  • Give yourself a hug (or hug someone else!)
  • Dance
  • Breathe (count in 1-2, out 1-2-3-4)
  • Watch your language
  • Rituals (e.g. making a cup of tea) – gives you time and possibility to slow down.

If the level of emotion is very high, cognitive level dips and vice versa, so thinking/focusing on something lets your emotional level go down.

Awareness of others (aka empathy)

How can we get an idea of how other people feel? Ask them! Be a bit careful about this – in some places there is no culture of sharing emotions and they may be taken aback if you ask directly. So you could use indirect questions. Never use “If I were you…” because you aren’t and never will be that person.

Managing emotion of others

The algorithm is quite simple. We need to know our goal in the communication and have an understanding of what emotion is required to achieve that. When we regulate our feelings, people will start to mirror. If someone is shouting and you respond in shouting, then the situation will escalate. If you speak in a calm voice, then you can de-escalate it. There are lots of steps that lead from a calm emotional state to a highly charged emotional state and the same is true in reverse. Calm voice, rituals, hugs, smile etc.

  • recognise and understand your emotion
  • that of a partner
  • define the goal reflecting both of your interests
  • choose what emotional state will help reach the goal
  • bring yourself to this state
  • help partner to feel appropriate emotion

The best way is to avoid things getting emotionally charged. Build trust, listen. If someone is upset, firstly:

  • Let them talk
  • Say verbally what you think s/he feels
  • Stay calm, do not rise your voice, control your gestures
  • identify what you can agree with and say “yes” (there is always something you can!)
  • Agree with facts but do not get into details
  • Accept the importance of the problem
  • Show empathy
  • Show empathy again

Elena also showed us a tool called Do you lead with emotional awareness? Which is from http://www.hbr.org Caveat: be skeptical of these tests, it’s not like testing IQ or language knowledge, it’s more about testing your behaviour in different situations, which is influenced by cultural background, upbringing etc. It’s just to have fun with. This test shows your position and majority position and gives you some recommendations of things to look at.

ekuz@interlingua.edu.ru @1expertedu