Shifting Paradigms in Teacher Development for the Next Generation - Tesol 2014


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This presentation describes a number of CPD projects carried out in a Binational Center in Brazil, aimed at dfferentiating professional development and moving away from traditional TD, towards innovative TD.

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Shifting Paradigms in Teacher Development for the Next Generation - Tesol 2014

  1. 1. SHIFTING PARADIGMS IN TEACHER DEVELOPMENT FOR THE NEXT GENERATION Isabela Villas Boas Kátia Falcomer Casa Thomas Jefferson – Brasília - Brazil
  2. 2. The Institution – Casa Thomas Jefferson  50-year-old, non-profit English language Teaching Institute in Brasília, Brazil  242 teachers – mostly non-native speakers with a teaching load of between 20 and 36 hours a week  Around 17,000 students of different age and profiiency levels  Students range from Very Young Learners to Post- Advanced
  3. 3. The teachers # of Years Percentage of CTJ teachers (total: 242) 1 – 5 61.5% 6 – 10 09.5% 11- 15 12% Over 16 17%
  4. 4. Yearly teacher appraisal system Planning Assessing Investment in academic development Professional attitude and commitment Attention to rules and procedures Interpersonal Dynamics Language, content, culture and digital literacy Instructing Learning
  5. 5. Traditional professional development Top-down decision-making A fix-it, prescriptive approach Lack of ownership One-size-fits-all techniques Fixed an untimely delivery methods Visionary professional development Collaborative decision-making A growth-driven approach Collective construction Tailor-made techniques Varied and timely delivery methods Diaz-Maggioli, G (2004) Teacher-centered professional development. Alexandria, Va.: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.
  6. 6. The innovations Projects Audience TEFL Seminar All teachers Mentoring First-semester teachers; sometimes second-semester ones Weekly workshops for newly-hired teachers First-semester teachers Senior Teacher Project Teachers with over five years in the institution and good evaluation results / trainee teachers Peer mentoring Senior teachers who successfully completed the Senior Teacher Project / first-semester teachers Mini-courses led by teachers Senior teachers Blogging All teachers
  7. 7. A local TEFL Seminar 1st TEFL Seminar in 2001 Open to the teaching community Ts have the chance to select what to focus on; presenters select what to present about Past - Talks and workshops given mostly by academic coordinators and supervisors and a few senior teachers Present - Mid-career and even some novice teachers feel encouraged to present
  8. 8. Presenting for the first time at the CTJ seminar served as a springboard to my professional development. After my first experience as a presenter, I became much more confident and got up the courage to develop more projects and share them with other teachers. Since then, I haven’t stopped presenting in local, national as well as international seminars. To my surprise, I ended up developing a taste for delivering presentations and it all started in a CTJ seminar. I believe the attendees at CTJ Seminars are really demanding. Thus, by presenting in such event, you feel more capable to speak in public and you do have to prepare yourself some time before by reading articles and rehearsing the presentations. Therefore, all the preparation required to develop Seminar presentations had a direct impact on my professional development.
  9. 9. The CTJ Seminar was indeed my first experience as a presenter. I sent a proposal because I felt I had interesting things to share in relation to the interpersonal dynamics between teacher-students. Presenting at the CTJ Seminar contributed to my own reflections about teaching practices, it is always interesting to hear what people have to say about our opinions and experience and reflect upon them.
  10. 10. A mentoring system for newly hired teachers Newly-hired teachers have very specific needs How it was in 2003 / How it changed in 2007 The mentors’ role Differentiation within the mentoring system
  11. 11. Statement Average The mentoring system was important for my adaptation in the institution. 4.6 The mentoring system was important for my development as a teacher. 4.7 I felt supported by my mentor. 4.8 I learned something new from my mentor. 4.7 15 teachers Fully disagree 1 2 3 4 5 Fully agree
  12. 12. It helps with the adaptation into the school, both pedagogically and professionally; it gives a feeling of safety knowing someone’s there for you. It really makes teachers feel supported, since they have a chance to improve before actually being evaluated. Knowing that you’re not being judged or assessed counts a lot to build rapport with coaches and the company team. I can ask for help; dealing with difficult situations gets easier because you know where to find support.
  13. 13. Weekly sessions for first- semester teachers Created in 2012 to complement the mentoring More in-depth focus on pedagogical and bureaucratic aspects Creates a learning community among the teachers hired each semester How topics are selected
  14. 14. Topics Learning styles Teaching grammar in a communicative context Teaching writing Teaching reading Pair-work Teaching very young learners The brain and language learning Setting clear objectives for your lesson Technology in the classroom Movie segments to assess grammar goals (based on a coordinator’s internationally acclaimed blog)
  15. 15. The sessions definitely helped us teachers develop a collaboration spirit among ourselves. I felt like we all stuck together in order to overcome the difficulties that each one of us had. Interpersonal relationships were strengthened, which makes it easier to share experiences, both positive and negative. The training helped me have a sense of belonging and become integrated into the school. It created a close-knit group of people who felt they were on the same boat. The teachers were given an environment in which they could know each other better and feel comfortable about clarifying doubts with each other, as well as sharing ideas and solutions for issues.
  16. 16. Senior teacher project The 5 phases in T’s professional development (Huberman,1989) 1. Exploration and stabilization 2. Commitment 3. Diversification 4. Serenity or distancing 5. Conservatism and regret “If teachers are able to realize their aspirations, they tend to enter a phase of serenity”
  17. 17. Senior teacher project An observation waiver for senior teachers with high scores on their yearly evaluations Options: 1. peer observation with a trainee; 2. symetrical peer observation; 3. reflective piece based on class recording
  18. 18. Agency: A teacher suggested a fourth activity: to work on his m-learning blog.
  19. 19. Period # of teachers invited Peer observation Observing a trainee teacher Reflective teaching Total of participants 2/2012 26 3 10 1 14 (54%) 1/2013 24 2 6 1 09 (37.5%)
  20. 20. It was an opportunity to reflect on my own teaching. I could give something back to the institution. It would be an opportunity of learning from my peers. I had one of the most interesting challenges of my career. Actually, I believe it is not easy to be in the observer’s shoes because it requires hard work and critical thinking to analyze the positive and negative aspects of a class. In this project, not only have I obtained information about this type of work but also I have seen new perspectives to enrich my own teaching style.
  21. 21. Senior teachers as peer mentors • Goals – provide novice Ts with the chance to receive feedback from more experienced collegues rather than only from the official mentors – Engage senior Ts in a meaningful professional development activity • Target audience: Teachers who participated in the Senior Teacher project
  22. 22. Statement Average The peer-mentoring system was important for my adaptation in the institution. 4.16 The peer-mentoring system was important for my development as a teacher. 4.04 I felt supported by my peer mentor. 4.16 I learned something new from my peer mentor. 4.25 12 teachers Fully disagree 1 2 3 4 5 Fully agree
  23. 23. Mentors can help fine tune your lesson plans; they are aware of current classroom situations. It was really enlightening, hands-on work; assistance for class planning. A complement, rather than substitution, of the mentoring
  24. 24. I was observed once by the mentor; she never gave suggestions nor sent me a report or something similar. I felt disappointed. I only met with my mentor once and we didn’t have much contact, so the process didn’t actually work as a process. It was not continued. I didn’t think they actually gave me the feedback I was expecting. What they told me wasn’t exactly relevant. The teachers involved should be more understanding, more interested. Millwater & Yarrow, 1997, as cited in Diaz-Maggioli, 2004).
  25. 25. Pros for Mentors Newcomers are welcomed by experienced teachers who are not supposed to evaluate them. There is a lot of sharing and we, hopefully, help them to lower their anxiety. It gives senior teachers a chance to share what they know; it connects senior teachers and new teachers in a professional way; it places commitment to training on senior teachers’ shoulders; it values the expertise of senior teachers; it gives new teachers the opportunity of bonding with experienced professionals; it gives senior teachers the opportunity of reflecting on their own teaching; it exposes senior teacher to different teaching styles. I believe this project is really positive to people who want to become teachers here. The mentoring project really enriches people’s teaching and gives them maturity to face challenges regarding their professional life. Therefore, I only see positive aspects in this project and I hope it continues.
  26. 26. Cons for Mentors Maybe mentors could meet their mentees in the end of the term to talk and wrap up the semester with them. It could be a frank talk about how things were along the semester. Perhaps a clearer idea of what is hoped for from the teacher being observed - what behavior and attitude the institution is looking for from newcomers. I felt I had to observe the class one more time to see if the suggestions were put into practice... But I don't know how practical this would be due to time constraints.
  27. 27. Mini-courses led by teachers The first two rounds (how they used to be, why we decided to change) 2013 – we adopted a bottom-up approach Ts were asked to suggest topics and volunteer to present Ts were paired up (why)
  28. 28. Classroom management Mobile learning Teaching grammar Teaching writing Learning difficulties Teaching pronunciation Teaching teens Task design and digital literacy Teaching young learners Online teaching and learning
  29. 29. Blogging
  30. 30. Blogging Why and how the blog was initiated How and why it has changed By November 2013, 40 posts by 24 teachers and a total of 8,418 views
  31. 31. Summing up the projects Goal of the projects: differentiating CPD Organic process The strengths of the projects outweigh the weaknesses
  32. 32. For us to move closer to Visionary Professional Development, Ts need to be even more involved.
  33. 33. Lessons learnt: transferability to other contexts Teachers at different career levels have distinct needs: novice teachers need more practical, down-to-earth training, mid-career teachers need to be given choices, and senior teachers need new challenges. One way to challenge senior teachers is to engage them in the development of their novice peers. Senior teachers feel valued and respected when they are engaged in differentiated professional development activities.
  34. 34. Lessons learnt: transferability to other contexts New teachers in an institution adapt more easily and perform better when they are part of a learning community. Weekly workshops on topics dealing with these teachers’ immediate needs, combined with mentoring, help build confidence and lower anxiety. An institutional blog to which any teacher can contribute gives professionals a different type of opportunity to share knowledge and caters to the needs of those who are not inclined to give talks or present workshops but who have relevant ideas to share.
  35. 35. Lessons learnt: transferability to other contexts Choice is of utmost importance in any continuing professional development endeavour: choice of topics to address, choice of presenters, and even choice of projects in which to engage. CPD cannot be confined to the institution’s walls; teachers need to be engaged in CPD that connects them with the wider ELT community. Seminars, webinars, and blogs are a means of achieving this goal.
  36. 36. Lessons learnt: transferability to other contexts Agency is crucial in Visionary Professional Development. Teachers need to be able to propose projects that are in keeping with their goals and interests, rather than merely adhere to pre-established ones. The institution has to implement a CPD evaluation system, with surveys to assess the programs’ effectiveness and compile suggestions for future projects.
  37. 37. Images courtesy of