ELTC TD Session “Peer-assisted self-observation” (Will Nash)

On the 28th of November 2018 (which seems a long, long time ago already!), I attended a TD session delivered by Will Nash who is in charge of teacher training at the ELTC. The focus was something which sounds a little odd on first hearing – “peer-assisted self-observation”. A bit of a mouthful and, for me, I wasn’t clear about what exactly it meant/entailed so it’s just as well I attended the session!

According to Will, the ELTC started experimenting with video observation since 2014. In fact, at IATEFL 2015, Will, and David Read who helps manages the technology side of things at the ELTC (in the sense of technology enhanced learning initiatives as vs. troubleshooting “my desktop has frozen” issues!) delivered a session based on these experiments with a focus on identifying suitable technology for use in video observation. (Their preferred set-up was the “Swivl” system which has a stand that holds a tablet or phone and a tracker with microphone that the speaker wears. The stand moves to focus on the location of the speaker and the microphone records what is being said. However, Will was at great pains to emphasise that peer-assisted self-observation can still happen without it and that other things are of much greater importance – as will be seen in the rest of this write-up!) Another ELTC development which connects nicely with peer-assisted self-observation here is the ELTC peer-development team. Hopefully the “how” of this will become clear as you read on…

Having given us some context for this talk, Will talked about different types of observation, asking us to make a list of types we were already familiar with. He then shared a list with us too. Between us all, here are the types that came up:

  • Qualification (i.e. observations as part of your CELTA/ Cert TESOL/Delta/Dip TESOL)
  • Annual (i.e. done by management for quality assurance)
  • Manager-led (e.g. surprise pop-ins, sweeps/walks)
  • Peer Observation (self-explanatory! Colleagues pop in to your class, observe and hopefully there is some discussion around it after and possibly also before)
  • Self-observation (by means of recording audio, visual, or both and analysing it subsequently)

Next we focused in on self-observation, starting with the question, “Why do it?”

Reasons include:

  • it is challenging, as people don’t generally like to watch themselves and especially don’t like to watch themselves make (perceived) mistakes
  • it is more “real” than a formal observation. In other words, you capture yourself teaching as you teach rather than it being based on the more artificial “display” teaching that tends to go with annual observations.
  • it comes from you rather than being imposed on you
  • it is “one of the most successful tools for lasting change in teacher development” (Petty, 2014)

All that said, then, why a “peer-assisted” version of it, particularly?

Well, apparently, the fact that it is self-organised positively impacts the rate of positive change in practice. “Self-organised” activity is when learners or teachers, in this case, get together in communities of practice. These communities of practice are valuable for lasting change. As we all have different levels of experience and have different amounts of knowledge about different things, there is the chance for informal mentoring and coaching to take place in the shape of interactions with people who are more “expert” than you are without them being your manager. This type of learning is a key part of change or transformation of practice. However, it needs to be real-time and embedded in your context to have maximum benefit. (For me, at this point, scholarship circles also came to mind as another example of “self-organised” CPD for teachers by teachers!)

This table is a really interesting summary of how much skill transfer arises from different types of developmental experience:

Of course, it is clear how peer-assisted self-observation ticks the “real time, job-embedded coaching and mentoring in the context of planning learning goals, implementing strategies and evaluating progress” box which yields the highest transfer.

So, it’s a great idea – what tech do I need?

  • A recording device: could just be audio, could just be visual, could be both – depending on your focus. (Of course it needs enough memory and battery to capture the amount of footage you require.)
  • A suitable location for that device to capture what is needed (i.e. where in the classroom will you put it?)
  • Somewhere to store the footage after you remove it from the recording device
  • Software to watch/listen to the footage, exploit it and potentially share it (in the case of peer-assisted)

The ELTC, as mentioned earlier, favours the Swivl System, as it addresses issues with sound quality that often arise when a static recording device is used. (I.e. when you walk away from a static recording device, the sound quality becomes poorer, while with a Swivel, the quality is maintained by the tracker).

In terms of exploiting the footage, we were shown an app called VEO which was developed for teachers and medical students specifically for analysing practice. It works with android and OS and is currently available for free, with the usual scenario of limited features accessible this way. Examples of what you can use it for include tagging key moments, tagging engagement and tagging interaction as you watch back the footage. Of course, this process can be done equally as effectively using a pen and paper. Will was at pains to point out that you can get just as much out of the (peer-assisted) self observation process using the most basic equipment e.g. a tape recorder (capturing audio) and a pen&paper for the follow-up.

So what *is* important for this process to be effective, if not the latest technological gizmos?

For CPD to be effective, what is important is to start from the question of “what do teachers need to learn?”  Peer-assisted self-observation is no exception. So how to answer this question of what you need to learn? It can be answered by cycles of enquiry into practice. So, you start with evidence of what your students need to know, especially the struggling ones, and from there what you need to know in order to teach them that effectively. Then of course you need to check how you are doing this in the classroom and identify whether it is the most effective way or perhaps not. This usually involves somebody else watching you or in the case of peer-assisted self-observation, watching with you. Finally, if you make changes, you need to then check the impact they have had. Actually, having written this paragraph, this cycle is fairly similar to the one I put forward for use with TD frameworks! Peer-assisted self-observation would definitely fit into it very nicely. An additional useful resource that I didn’t know about when I did my talk, and so isn’t on my list, is Ed Talks whose tagline is “Interviews, discussions, and presentations from thought leaders, innovative educators, and inspirational learners”. Basically, on it there are lots of interesting 5 minute-ish videos that you can watch and learn from.

Here are some questions you can ask yourself:

  • What will improve my teaching and student outcomes?
  • What is my assessment/curriculum/subject knowledge?
  • What is my pedagogical and professional knowledge?
  • Are my methods and techniques in the classroom effective?
  • Can I use an evidence-based enquiry?

To have a clearer answer to question no. 3, you could use the approach/cycle I put forward at IATEFLas part of the identification process. This would help with the first thing on the list of things that need to be in place for (peer-assisted) self-observation to work:

  • you need a clear focus on a purpose area
  • you need to discuss with peers (for peer-assisted) and course-leaders (so they are aware of your plans)
  • you need to book, check and prepare any technology you are planning to use
  • you need to avoid “display teaching”
  • you need to include or at least warn the learners about what you are doing and assure them that the footage won’t be used outside your institution (or, if you do plan to share it more widely, ensure you go through the permission processes required at your institution and in your country)

What can I observe?

You could observe for subject knowledge, classroom assessment (i.e. in-class formative assessment), pedagogical methods/techniques, classroom management and interaction patterns. Apparently subject knowledge is a highly significant factor.

How can I observe?

  • The observation could be holistic e.g. getting an overall idea of your position in the room over the course of a lesson, whether students’ heads are up or down (you could use a speeded up mode to identify these kind of things, which can be interesting). Or, it could be specific, e.g. you could focus on the clarity of your instructions.
  • The observation could be audio only or it could be visual only (sound not recorded or sound turned down).
  • The observation could focus on content i.e. what you do, what the students do, or pedagogy i.e. how you do it.
  • You could do a critical incident analysis. NB this is not necessarily negative! This is critical as in important/highly significant. So you choose an incident that you consider important for whatever reason, which might last perhaps for a minute, and you do a deep analysis of that incident.
  • Learning instructional rounds (Oates, 2012) – so, teachers work in a group looking at each others’ recordings
  • Use these self-observation and lesson analysis forms to help you

How to work with a peer?

This can take place throughout the process: Before you do the observation, you can discuss what you are planning to do and how you are planning to do it. As well as being a useful way to clarify your plans in your own mind through talking them through with someone else, talking to that someone else can also provide useful moral support! Then, after you have recorded the lesson or part of a lesson, there are different ways you can work with your colleague(s): You could watch the recording together, at the same time (dual viewing) or you could view it separately and discuss it subsequently. You could watch in a group (i.e. “Learning instructional rounds”) or you could discuss it with someone who hasn’t watched it! What you are looking for and what you analyse is something you will have thought about and decided on in advance but it is also something flexible – for example identifying a critical incident and running with that instead or as well. You can look at the same recording in multiple ways.

What happens next?

Will suggests using it as part of a reflection and action cycle. So, the next stage might be to evaluate what you have watched and what you have learnt from that process. Having done that, you could do some learning in response to any gaps you have identified e.g. an online course, some reading (see the powerpoint that you can download at the end of the write up of my talk for more ideas for resources to use as part of this learning process) etc. You could also use it as the starting point for doing some action research, not forgetting that you can involve others in this too. You could do further recordings/observations. Finally, don’t forget you could also share the footage with colleagues for them to use (and, who knows, they might share theirs with you too!).

Finally, to come right back round to where this write-up started, for ELTC’ers hopefully now you can see how the PDS team could be helpful with this type of development? I’m sure they would be more than happy to help you plan your observation goals, watch footage with you and help you analyse it and help you make an action plan based on what you learn. You can also contact the TEL team for help with the tech side of things, the TD team may also be able to help (and/or all the useful resources curated on the portal!) and, of course, you can involve your line manager and programme leader(s).

Maybe having a go with this type of development could be another ELT New Years Resolution for you! Go on! 🙂

 

 

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IATEFL Webinar: Mental Health Training for Employers within ELT

On the 7th July (I know, I know, catching up…) I attended Phil Longwell’s IATEFL webinar about Mental Health Training for Employers within ELT.

He started by talking about research that he did, which he presented at IATEFL earlier this year, from which key things that came out were

  • most people think it’s a bad idea to disclose mental health issues
  • there is fear of reaction in the countries/cultures in question
  • there is still a lot of stigma around mental health
  • a small number people think it is a good idea to disclose in order to draw on support and to challenge stigma

For Phil’s write-up of his research and findings, please click here.

Then we considered stress. Lots of factors can cause it, there are no universal reasons and it is contextual. In teaching, things that can contribute are:

  • workload
  • perfectionism
  • job insecurity
  • meeting deadlines
  • demanding parents
  • large class sizes
  • lack of support/appreciation
  • harassment/bullying

Phil’s mantra to combat perfectionism and related stress is: “Good enough is good enough.”

Burnout is a significant cause of stress. You may feel overwhelmed by workload and expectations, you may feel complete exhaustion and that you can’t go on. There are various signs of it e.g. moaning, groaning, complaining, change in behaviour, over motivation and enthusiasm, absenteeism, missing deadlines, days off, extended sick leave. Acting on automatic pilot, avoiding contact with others and avoiding eye contact. However, none of these individually is in itself a sign of burnout, if a number are occurring over a certain period of time, it may be indicated.

We also looked at depression, general anxiety disorder, bipolar disorder, OCD, psychosis, panic disorder/panic attacks and schizophrenia. We had to identify each based on lists of symptoms. It was a thought-provoking exercise.

Many of these conditions will be hidden to a manager unless they are disclosed. They are “invisible” conditions. Drink, drugs and addictions can have an effect on these conditions. They may be used as coping mechanisms but can actually make things worse. For example, people smoke to relieve anxiety but it can make the anxiety worse.

Then we looked at the ALGEE model for helping people who are suffering from a mental health issue.

Anxiety attacks/panic attacks are most likely to occur at work. The reason they occur is that something persuades the amygdala in the brain that there is danger. Therefore, if possible, somebody who is having one needs to get away from the trigger. If somebody has one, you need to help encourage them to gain control of their breathing again. They can last for a long time. You don’t need to be a doctor/medical professional to help someone. Just being there and trying to help them realise that the threat isn’t there.

Institutions can help support the mental health and wellbeing of their employees in a variety of ways:

“A beginner’s guide to being mental: An A-Z from Anxiety to Zero F*ks given” is a book by Natasha Devon that Phil recommends.

He finished with a quotation from his research:

He also provided us with some mental health resources and his references:

 

Thank you Phil, it was a really interesting and interactive webinar.

I work in an environment that can be very stressful and demanding at certain times – key assessment periods and so on – but fortunately it is also a very supportive environment which to me has made a lot of difference. I think having supportive colleagues is extremely helpful when it comes to mental health. I also think ELT in general has an added layer of complication when it comes to jobs and mental health, in that for many people it involves moving abroad and integrating into a new place and culture, learning a new language etc. Dealing with all of those pressures, wonderful though they can be, is a massive extra load on top of the actual work aspect of it all. For myself, I find that my mental health is better now that I am back home, much as I enjoyed working abroad. I have a much better support network outside work (which I think is important) and I can pursue the hobbies that I love (running and cycling) in the countryside that I love, which is something that I struggled to do while abroad as I was afraid to cycle and lived in cities so running (my kind of running) was very limited. As such, I think it is really positive that mental health/wellbeing is being discussed more openly within ELT. I hope it continues to be the case so that progress can keep being made in this area.

To close, here is a useful set of resources about mental health in ELT from Sandy Millin.

Edit: Half an hour or after I published this post, an email came round from “Juice” – they are the Sheffield uni health and wellbeing lot  – which amongst other things reminded us about the new staff resources for mental health which were launched in May to coincide with Mental Health Awareness Week. Quite a comprehensive resource! It’s not for nothing that I feel grateful to work here.

IATEFL 2018 Forum – effective and personalised: the holy grail of CPD

1. How do you create a culture of CPD?

by Oliver Beaumont from Regent Oxford and Duncan Jamieson from OISE

They see CPD like a big beautiful garden. For greta things to happen, you need the right conditions. Important to focus not only on what you are doing but also on how.

Conditions needed: engage, energise, empower

Engage

What nutrients do you need to engage your teachers in CPD?

The vision, sharing the purpose of thea ctivity. Why is it happening at this time, how does it fit in with teachers’ career path and the vision of the school? Relevance need sto be clear. The environment – set up the conditions of the room so that it is conudicive to CPD, with posters that reflect the methodology in use and flipcharts from previous sessions. Make it a priority, ringfence time. How can you replicate that in your school? Not doing it after hours or in a lunchtime.

Energise

Give teachers a level of autonomy not only in how they deveop but what they develop as well. A level of choice in where they are going to go with it. This gives them ownership over it, making it more likely that they will invest in it and make an effort. Collaboration – try to foster it as much as possible.

Empower

It’s a grand word but purposefully so. Often the part that is missed. It starts with follow up – meaningful action following whatever CPD so that development doesn’t stop at the end of the workshop. Feedforward – looking to the future and looking to help the teacher to develop, coaching them to be better.  Impact – reflect on the impact not just of the training session or peer obs but on the implementation and how it affects learning etc.

Transfer of learning into practice – if you add feedback and coaching into a session with theory and demonstration and practice, transfer increases dramatically.

Three examples of activities

  • Flash training
  • Personalised peer obs
  • Academic flair development programme

Focus not on what but how, this is how to put EEE into practice.

Flash training

Inspired by flash mob – short period of time, full of energy, memorable. Good for busy times. A simple way to do a CPD exercise that doesn’t need a lot of time. You only need 20 minutes.

  • Look at a current practice. (How do you…? How often do you…?) Input some fresh ideas – a few practical ideas or resources
  • Action (What will you do this week with what came up in the session)

The following week for 10 minutes you have reflection – they can reflect on how it went, they can invite a peer in to observe for the specific period where they are doing something and focus on that particular point.

Personalised peer observations

Trying to move away from the lottery element where you go in not knowing what you are going to see, maybe see some good ideas maybe not, maybe put them into practice maybe not.

Decide on a personal focus (what is it that you want to develop in your teaching); construct an observation tool that targets this element; go and observe a lesson using that tool; reflect with peer and design an action plan. (E.g. swap and be observed using the tool you made)

Academic flair development programme

The opportunity to explore beyond a single session:

Progress theory – not just driving for the end goal but when workers (teachers in this case) can see progress, small steps of progress:

Exploring psychology in language learning and teaching – Marion Williams, Sarah Mercer, and Stephen Ryan

If you are looking to create a culture of CPD, focus on the nutrients, focus on the conditions, and amazing things will grow from there.

2. Are we really supporting new teachers?

Alistair Roy, manager of a BC teaching centre just outside Madrid.

Why this topic?

He has been teaching for 12 years, has worked for 6 dfferent schools and had 12 different posts. A lot of change, a lot of coming and going has been seen. Out of those 12 posts, only in 1 of them has there been a proper mentor and mentoring process. 26 – the number of people he has “mentored” in his career apparently. In one year he remembers having 7 mentees at one time, which is basically impossible. In Sept 2017, he started his latest role of manager. He had no mentor or induction. He got a phonecall on Friday and was told to start on Monday. He also had to deal with two brand new teachers when he was also brand new. When he asked other centres for help, he got checklists with things like “Do you have an ID card?” to use with the teachers. Not mentoring. He has since spoken to 24 different teachers about this issue, to show the teacher’s point of view of mentoring.

Do you remember your first day in your current job? Was it overwhelming? Yes. Most common doubts: How do the computers work? Do we use course books? What? Where? What is the assessment policy? Is there an acceptable behaviour policy? Where are the toilets? etc.

Do you remember your first day as a teacher? In addition to all the above the fact that you have never taught a class alone in your life.

Scraps of paper were planted in the audience. Think of them as info, questions, doubts etc teachers have on first day of work. They had to try and hit him with them. 6 hit. So imagine 6 things stuck beyond day 1. The rest: the pieces of missed information.

On one occasion he gave a checklist to a T and most of the answers were I don’t know. Information overload had occurred.

Were you assigned a mentor? What should a mentor be?

  • a carer
  • a teacher (a leader)
  • a friend
  • not a soldier but a colleague
  • same level as you

A person who guides and supports by building trust and modelling behaviour

In one role, in a regular school, his induction programme lasted for the whole first year. He had an actual real mentor. Was one of the best things that happened to him ever. The mentor was in the same department, had a weekly 45 minute meeting built into the schedule. He was observed 9 times in the one academic year. Had the chance to observe 4 peers. He had a structured training programme provided and a training record that he could take with. He was given a bi-annual appraisal.

In the next role, a private language school. There was…none of the above. He was given in-house training from unskilled owners (never done a CELTA). He was given a contract and “the talk”. Then told to go teach FCE and Advanced. He didn’t know what they were.

91,7% of the people he spoke to have never been given a mentor.

What makes a good mentor?

  • good communicator
  • well organised
  • approachable
  • available
  • honest but fair
  • diplomatic
  • understanding
  • objective

What should a good mentor do?

  • make time
  • share experience
  • set a journey
  • be curious
  • be inquisitive
  • help the mentee self-assess
  • share
  • reflect

What can managers do?

  • invest – not just economically
  • dedicate time and resources (give teacher and mentor time to talk together)
  • support
  • understand (don’t forget what it’s like to be there)
  • a good teacher is your best resource (if you don’t keep them, you’ve got nothing)

After 5 years, 91% of teachers who have a good mentor stay in the profession. That falls to 71% if they don’t have a mentor. Quite a distinctive difference. Highlights the importance of a good, structured mentoring programme.

3. Personalised Development Groups: A framework for collaborative, teacher-led CPD

Josh Round and Andy Gaskins

Personalised Development Groups is shortened to PDGs.

  • Research underpinning approach
  • What are PDGs and how to do they work?
  • Evaluation – how personalised and effective are they?

Traditional approaches are one size fits all, the focus is decided by the manager or trainer (top down), easy for participants to consume passively, probably not much follow up, minimal impact on practice.

There is a lot of research available now on the importance of CPD and its impact on improving student outcomes. Need to make this clear to the teaching team, is not just a tick box thing.

E.g. of research

(Josh highlighted the highlighted words.)

Need to move away from transmission of knowledge and skills to something more collaborative. reflective development, creating learning communities.

A fresh approach to CPD

They wanted something less top-down. They would always have a person at the front talking, who gets more out of it as they had to prepare it. They wanted everyone to get more out of it. It was always Friday lunchtime and then it was the weekend all was forgotten.

Instead: less topdown and fragmentary and more personalised.

PDGs

Pathways – broad areas of interest for groups to work on (some their ideas, some from the teachers – areas that would benefit the school or teachers were looking for more support or to refresh their practice) e.g.

Running the sessions: a balance between freedom to take ownership and support/structure to make it more beneficial.

6-8 teachers pr group, given a framework (the action research cycle) but left to the group to decide how to do this. Everyone gets involved.

Action research – qualitative and descriptive, observing what’s going on in the class, reflecting on that, implementing some kind of change.

  1. question (not easy, some groups took a few weeks to get going – useful to give prompts to help them get started, possible ideas to explore for each of the pathways.)
  2. Small change (take ideas into the classroom, doesn’t have to be huge, very narrow, very focused – decide what to do)
  3. implement (do what you have decided to do, be transparent about it, tell your learners what you are doing)
  4. observe (questionnaires, observations, interviews, teacher diary – simple things)
  5. reflect (talk about what you’ve done in your group, think about what to do next)
  6. repeat

How did it work? How was it received? (Evaluation)

They started doing this in Sept 2015, now in the 6th cycle, it’s been established, got going, has become a norm. They have done some staff surveys after the first cycle and at the end of last year.

  • 83% of t’s and 96% agreed it was effective
  • space and time to explore something they are interested in
  • take away practice ideas and experiment in teaching practice
  • In the first round a lower number thought it helped them discover new resources but in the last round 100% agreed.
  • High rates also for agreeing about it making a more reflective teacher and improve confidence/skills

Why do they sometimes not work so well?

  • absence or sickness
  • lack of structure
  • some members do not contribute much

Enthusiasm of early adopters can have a positive effect, that is what you hope for  to sway more reluctant ones.

At the end of the cycle, they do feedback presentations. So you (manager) finds out what has happened. Each group really wanted to tell/elaborate/share – each group gets 30 mins. Everybody gets to participate. Also promotes new, stronger work relationships and ongoing conversation about teaching.

Every second Friday at lunchtime, groups meet. But also in lessons, in the classroom, in your planning. It isn’t tidy, it’s a bit messy, needs getting used to. Teachers make two choices from range of pathways and you try and get people in first and second choice. Takes some time to get going and take off.

jround@stgiles.co.uk

 

IATEFL 2018 “No-one told me that!” Top tips for new trainers – Beth Davies and Nicholas Northall

Last session for the day was with my CELTA tutors from days of yore and it really was like a trip down memory lane as well as giving me plenty food for thought. 

This session is for people who have been trainers for one or two years.

Five main areas:

  • Transitioning from treacher to trainer
  • input sessions
  • spprt with lesson planning
  • obs and feedback
  • dealing wtih trainees

We started with a gap-fill to make us think about what new trainers need to do. (See handout for details.)

Next we ranked possible features of an input session from 1-10

A sample of the possible features given

Depends on the context and who the trainees are – whether CELTA or Delta. All have some importance.

Support with lesson planning

We discussed a list of reflective questions.

A sample of the questions

These questions are things to think about. E.g. look at the plan before the lesson rather than doing both at the same time. `

Board game

Then we played a board game with dice and counters, in which we had to say whether we agreed or disagreed with the statement in the square we landed on and why.

A sample of the statements on the game board

Role plays emphasising people skills

The role plays, our final activity, were very detailed, setting up a situation and giving us instructions. I’ve not got any pictorial evidence, but basically in pairs A was the trainer and B was the trainee (taking it in turns) and we role played discussions in which we had to deal with issues that might crop up during a course (in fact they have been harvested from various courses over the years!)

The goal was to think about what we would do in that situation, basically like looking at case studies. You need to be able to cope with various situations that come up.

It was a great session, very action-packed and thought-provoking.

Here is the handout we were given:

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 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

Preparing for IATEFL 2018 (paragraph blogging)

I first came across the idea of paragraph blogging because Sandy Millin gave it a go and I read her blog regularly. Given I am using bullet points, this isn’t technically a paragraph BUT it is a much shorter post than I am usually given to writing, so I think that is in keeping with the general concept, one which I may revisit post IATEFL as it is about the only way I will have time to publish anything for the next couple of terms!

Usually my preparations for IATEFL include asking and answering the following questions:

  • What will I see (peruse the programme and highlight far too many things – how many can I squeeze in?)
  • Who will I see? (make plans to catch up with a bunch of people)
  • What/where will I eat? (are there any eateries that are me-friendly i.e. cater for vegans? If not, where is the nearest supermarket? Thank goodness for self-catering.)
  • How will I decompress? (Any nice spaces for walking or running to alleviate the effects people-heavy nature of conferences on an introvert?)
  • How do I get from my accommodation to the conference centre and back again? (study Google Maps and pray)
  • Who is covering my classes at work? (Make sure they have everything they need to do it easily)
  • Have I packed my data cable? (Where did I put it after the last conference???? In a safe place…)

This year, I am adding the following questions:

  • How many essay outlines can I give feedback on via Turnitin while I am at the conference? (There are up to 30 – if all my students submit – being submitted on Sunday and I have two weeks to mark them in. One of those weeks is IATEFL. The other of those weeks is one in which I will need teach all my classes, mark up to 80 listening exam scripts, or two groups worth + double marking, and do all my ADoSing duties as I have been made an ADos for this term and next term.)
  • Can I finish marking all the reading and writing practice exam scripts (x30) on the train on the way down South? If so, will there be time also to look at the conference programme and my talk (which I prepared, thankfully, late last year but need to review)?
  • How best to organise my time at the conference to maximise on good sessions, catch up with people, keep up with marking and decompress as needed (and ideally fit in some eating and sleeping too!)?
  • How much extra admin (e.g. tutorial timetables, speaking exam timetables, meeting notes, checklists, draft emails) can I do this week to save myself a few headaches in Week 3 (a.k.a. the crazy week awaiting me on my return)?

To anybody attending IATEFL this year, or to anybody who has attended IATEFL in the past, what questions do you ask and answer in preparation? 🙂