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 Doing Professional Development in International EAP: paradoxes, perspectives, best practices Presenter: Ray Bennett York University English Language.

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Presentation on theme: " Doing Professional Development in International EAP: paradoxes, perspectives, best practices Presenter: Ray Bennett York University English Language."— Presentation transcript:

1  Doing Professional Development in International EAP: paradoxes, perspectives, best practices Presenter: Ray Bennett York University English Language Institute

2  Agenda Introductions Experiences Paradoxes and Perspectives Best Practices: an offering Adding to this…

3  Takeaways A more complete (but more complex) perspective on doing professional development in international EAP, its paradoxes, tensions… A set of best practices that you can adapt for your own professional development work

4  Experiences China: Southwest University, Chongqing ( ) Mongolia: University of the Humanities (and others), Ulan Bator, (2006, 2009) Palestinian Territories: Al-Quds University, Abu Dis (2012)

5  Paradoxes and Perspectives I. Who knows what? II. (IN)securities III. Contexts: zooming in, zooming out

6  Paradoxes and Perspectives I. Who knows what? The ‘Facilitator’, ‘Animator’, ‘Resource’ (i.e. ‘us’) Theoretical framework Practical experience (praxis) Contextual comfort The ‘Participants’, ‘Trainees’ (i.e. ‘them’) Theoretical framework Practical experience (praxis) Contextual comfort

7  Paradoxes and Perspectives I. Who knows what? Observation: Collaboration could be the ticket! Paradox #1 Collaboration, yes, but… Psychologically ‘structured in’ is their expectation that we know something we can transmit to them so they can ‘get better’ Psychologically ‘structured in’ is our expectation that we know something we can transmit to them so they can ‘get better’ How do we balance: (i) expectations around our ‘expertise’ (given its context-specific limits); (ii) participants’ evident expertise in their own context; to make REAL a collaborative approach to this work?

8  Paradoxes and Perspectives II. (IN)securities For ‘us’ Confidence in what we do here may be offset by our lack of familiarity with this ‘foreign’ context We are under pressure (self-imposed or external) to ‘make a difference’ here, through PD – to meet that expectation A collaborative approach… hmmmm… loss of control? Proving ourselves in foreign territory – ‘What! They want me to demonstrate teach in one of their classes!!!’

9  Paradoxes and Perspectives II. (IN)securities For ‘them’ Is the ‘expert’ going to watch me? Do I have to prove that I’m ‘with it’ – that I get all these Western-manufactured concepts and practices? Is someone from one of the ‘homes of English’ going to judge me? Will my own English proficiency come into question? Besides, what do these ‘experts’ know about the situation here anyway? They don’t know what I have to deal with.

10  Paradoxes and Perspectives II. (IN)securities Observation: Neither we, nor they, feel all that secure in this situation. And insecurity leads to… Paradox #2 Insecure people can be the worst collaborators: they tend to build walls of false certainties around their feelings. The international professional development situation, whose complexities call for collaboration, is also one in which insecurities arising from such complexities can confound that very collaboration.

11  Paradoxes and Perspectives III. Contexts: zooming in, zooming out Zooming in Personal chemistry, the working relationship, the emotional climate… these condition everything else Playing the ‘exotic foreigner’ is messing with a double- edged sword

12  Paradoxes and Perspectives III. Contexts: zooming in, zooming out Zooming out Historical contexts – Our previous PD experiences; their previous PD experiences – Where’s the baggage? Institutional Context – What constraints are imposed on them by their curriculum, their program, their institution? And what constraints are imposed on us by ours? What issues, on both our parts, arise because administrators with power don’t ‘get’ that language teaching/learning is fundamentally different than physics teaching/learning? Do they see us as aligned with an administration they feel is unsupportive, dense, duplicitous...?

13  Paradoxes and Perspectives III. Contexts: zooming in, zooming out Zooming out The context of the Intercultural underpins, permeates international professional development respect and how it is shown face saved and lost roles of teachers and students significance of age explicit vs. implicit communication modes…

14  Paradoxes and Perspectives III. Contexts: zooming in, zooming out Observation: This is a lot messier than I thought! How many pairs of glasses do I have to bring to this situation Paradox #3 We parachute into a foreign situation in the here and now, relying on our good will and what we’ve learned, wanting to be helpful, but… The parachute has taken us to a multi-dimensional world with invisible holes and sharp sticks along with an Einsteinian bending and looping of time. Dorothy anyone?

15  Best Practices: an offering I. Do all of your homework Learn as much as you can in advance about the situation and context in which you will be working. Try to mine info from multiple viewpoints. Find out who has been the driver in arranging this PD, and how the PD is being presented to participants. Determine what previous PD experiences people have had, and how these went. Try to cultivate a positive attitude among participants by connecting with them in advance – e.g. via a google group.

16  Best Practices: an offering II. Learn to be a real collaborator… and make it happen Accept the desirability, and necessity, for collaboration in this work. Name this collaborative approach with participants, and explain why, as soon as you establish contact with them. At the same time, give them reason to trust that you do bring skills in ELL and in this kind of PD – that you will lead in this collaborative effort. Show in a culturally appropriate way your authentic respect for their professional skills, knowledge, and experience.

17  Best Practices: an offering III. Avoid the ‘expert’ trap Be clear and confident about what you ‘know’, but be ready to revise this as it applies in the foreign context. Get as comfortable as you can with not knowing some things, and feeling like an infant for short periods of time. Be ready to learn from participants. Keep an eye on your own insecurities in this foreign situation. Watch for the tendency to overplay your ‘expert’ hand to compensate for your impulse to scream and retreat.

18  Best Practices: an offering IV. Be a realist: see the project’s scope and limitations Time How much can you do well? How can you deploy the time in your work to achieve a multiplier effect, to achieve the biggest bang for the buck? Extension Use online communication tools to extend the work and its impact. Set up a blog, a wiki... Organize action research projects in which participants can apply PD ideas in their own work, beyond the end of the PD session proper.

19  Best Practices: an offering V. Do careful, customized program design Ask yourself (and others, including participants) what program elements will produce optimal benefits, given what you know about this particular situation. Examples: Group workshops Lectures/Presentations Observations Demonstration teaching Co-teaching Meetings with administrators to support PD participants’ work and advocate on their behalf, as appropriate

20  Best Practices: an offering VI. Be a resource Share your awareness of and access to research, journal materials, online resources, downloadable apps, etc. Note that they may have financial constraints that you, through your institution, can help with.

21  Best Practices: an offering VII. Be a learner as a PD practitioner Don’t overcompensate for the uncertainties and challenges of international PD by shutting down and ceasing to listen, watch, and learn!

22  Adding to this… Comments? Questions? Revisions?

23  Doing Professional Development in International EAP: paradoxes, perspectives, best practices Thank you! Ray Bennett York University English Language Institute y Bennett Graduate Programs Writing Tutor Faculty of Environmental Studies


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