What you’ll see below is my idea for a session at TESOL 2017 (it’s actually the text of my proposal). TESOL’s enormous annual jamboree is happening just up the road in Seattle this year.This is kind of exciting though I can’t quite wrap my head around the idea of actually heading HOME rather than some hotel at the distant end of each marathon day. This will be my 6th TESOL convention if I’m counting right, and only the 2nd one I’ve submitted something for.
Last year’s workshop was good fun and, we thought, a solid success. So this year I’m again collaborating with colleagues on a session concerned with reflection on an initial teacher training course. But I also wanted to do my own thang, so I also submitted something a bit different, something I felt really came from my heart.
We find out whether or not the proposals are a go for TESOL at the end of October (on Halloween, I believe…spooky!). I’m posting this here in the hopes that I might get a little bit of feedback from peers in the meantime and, well, because the very act of sharing helps me further process a thing, too, whether or not any feedback occurs. And whether or not the session is accepted, it’s something I’d really like to keep thinking about and act on experimentally in ever more more concrete ways.
So thanks for checking it out! You’ll find some question prompts at the bottom of my post which perhaps might inspire you to respond. It’s something I imagine many people can relate to. Please share ideas, comments, questions or anything else in the comments section! It’ll all help with developing the idea further and inform my session (on the off-chance my poorly written proposal actually makes it through the evaluation gauntlet!).
The Power of Informal Collegial Conversations for Teacher Development
(A 45-Minute “Dialogue” Session)
Programs of teaching workshops, class observations, and supervisory feedback provide valuable tools for change, but a simple conversation with a fellow teacher can also actuate significant growth and spur development. Why? How? Dialogue participants will share experiences and explore ways to capitalize on conversation for organic, personalized teacher development outcomes.
In an increasingly complex and dynamic global ELT industry, interest in practical and effective approaches to teacher development continues to grow. While demand ensures barriers to entry remain low for novice teachers and initial teacher training courses remain quite short, there is wide recognition that in-service continuing teacher development is crucial for improving instructional quality as well as providing dedicated but low-paid teachers with opportunities for rewarding personal growth.
The aim of this session is to outline, explore, and practice a particular way of teacher development that is not often recognized and exploited for its potential: teachers’ “collegial conversations”, the informal but focused conversations with peers anchored by a description of a recent critical incident, an articulate or off-handed reflection on a particular or general classroom challenge or success, or a request for an opinion on a future instructional decision teachers naturally initiate. Dialogue will focus on sharing personal perspectives on the role these conversations have played in feeding, fueling, and organizing participants’ own teacher development from an internal source, and how encouraging, facilitating, even ‘training for’ them could form the basis for an innovative teacher development program.
Drawing on the Vygotskian perspective on all learning as socially situated and jointly constructed, Underhill’s ideas about teacher development as personal development and the role of groups in developing self-awareness, and Edge’s well-developed Cooperative Development (CD) framework for development, the presenter will outline a proposed model in which conversation forms the cornerstone of a radically context-sensitive, participant-appropriate, and needs-focused teacher development program before participants are prompted to debate, discuss, question, and co-construct ideas for possible collegial conversation-based models for teacher development work.
- Do you value informal conversation with peers as a real source of profession development? If so, how does this source compare to organized/official sources?
- Where and how do these conversations and interactions with peers happen?
- What was the last “collegial conversation” you had and how did it/might it impact your ongoing development, even in a subtle way?
- Have you heard of Cooperative Development (CD) before? Tried it?
- What would you hope to happen in a session like the one described above?
- Do you think it has any chance of being accepted? Wait, don’t answer that! 😛
By the way, I’d like to mention that I’m happy to see TESOL tweaking the old “Discussion Group” session type to give it more of a sense of fluidity (personally, I don’t really like the term “roundtable discussion”, it sounds stiff and formal). Peer-to-peer, hoorah! 🙂
Jonny Ingham shared this account (by Lizzie Pinard) of a CPD session which embodies the exact thing I’m exploring: here: https://reflectiveteachingreflectivelearning.com/2014/03/24/cpd-and-a-cup-of-tea-in-the-sunshine-go-on-give-it-a-go/
And in the comments section of that post, Jonny Ingham mentions that the session was inspired by this post on “Be the DOS” here: https://bethedos.wordpress.com/2014/03/18/its-good-to-talk-isnt-it/
Oh, and one last thing: I’m just gonna park this here! 🙂
Hope to see you soon Carol! 🙂