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Understanding our ELT environments (contexts) : a starting point for developing appropriate ELTE goals Martin Wedell School of Education 1.

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Presentation on theme: "Understanding our ELT environments (contexts) : a starting point for developing appropriate ELTE goals Martin Wedell School of Education 1."— Presentation transcript:

1 Understanding our ELT environments (contexts) : a starting point for developing appropriate ELTE goals Martin Wedell School of Education 1

2 Conference title English Language Teacher Education in a Diverse Environment- explicitly acknowledges that ONE set of goals for / one model of English language teacher education unlikely to be suitable for all If we do not understand the main features of ‘the environment’, hard to establish appropriate goals, and so to plan and provide ‘appropriate English Language Teacher Education’ (ELTE). 2

3 Conference themes The Institutional Environment: -A range of more or less multilingual - multi-grade - multi-level - multi resourced English classrooms. The Socio-Economic Environment - a range of more or less mainstream/marginalised communities in different areas, with English playing different roles in local economic development – different English skills perceived to be needed for local employability – different awareness /understanding of terms like ‘global citizenship’. The Home Environment - different areas of the country with different language profiles (English = L2-L3-L4?) and different linguistic priorities, able to assume differing degrees of support from parents and local community 3

4 Understanding diverse educational environments to be able to understand the main features of any educational environment / context, one needs to be able to describe it in a more or less systematic manner. How? Environments suggest PLACES If one asks teachers to describe their ‘contexts’ - a physical PLACE (classroom/school) is what they tend to refer to first. 4

5 Other core components of any educational context As well the main features of the PLACE, any description of an educational context has two further core components These are the beliefs, expectations and behaviours of PEOPLE, both those working in the PLACE, and also some of those those in the environment that surrounds it. AND, since both places and people’s beliefs and behaviours change over time, the point in ( chronological) TIME at which we are describing it. 5

6 Describing contexts PEOPLE IN A PLACE AT (point in) TIME How can we investigate these three key components of any environment, to help us identify the main features influencing how English teachers think and behave in ELT classrooms in that environment’? …and so become able to establish appropriate goals for our ELTE? 6

7 Any educational context (environment) Visible aspects of a context of ‘PLACE’ PEOPLEPEOPLE Invisible aspects of a context of ‘PLACE’ Classroom Classroom cultures- group dynamics School/Institution Institutional cultures Village-Town-City Local expectations of/attitudes to education Region Regional educational cultures Country Socio-political belief systems and their national educational culture Part of the world Balance of power and philosophical positions _________(at a particular point in TIME________ A framework for describing an educational context (Wedell & Malderez 2013) 7

8 influential features of ELT environments More VisibleMore invisible Classrooms and schools that are more or less Multi-lingual Multi-level Multi-grade And that eg: have larger or smaller classes are situated in more or less well resourced parts of the region/country Teachers- leaders- communities in different places with+/-different norms regarding eg: education knowledge learning classroom roles and behaviours And so different perceptions of eg: Importance of English in the local environment Desirable skills that local learners need how to support teaching and learning of English 8

9 9 Some possible goals for ELTE ( Malderez and Wedell 2007) ‘ Good’ teachers? ‘Good’ teaching? Teaching professionals? Reflective practitioners? Technicists? OR Gurus? ( Sharma 2012)

10 10 ‘Good Teachers’ Focus on the person as a teacher - helping a person to become a teacher Trainees’ initial focus develop their TEACHER identity Non-teachers’ focus = personal qualities – knowledgeable, dedicated, patient, kind, humourous, as/more important than what the teacher does

11 11 ELTE for ‘good teachers’ suggests a curriculum that recognises the need to provide trainees with opportunities to develop, eg: Confidence in their ‘teacher identity’ Ability to understand learners as individuals whose feelings about their learning experiences will affect their attitudes to learning English. Interpersonal skills –relating to/advising learners Ability to make their classrooms ‘positive learning environments’

12 12 ‘Good’ teaching Focus on the activity of teaching. Do we think it is A craft? A science? A ‘complex open skill’ – many possible options to choose from at any point in the process of teaching- good teaching needs personal flexibility, creativity and ability to cope with the unexpected

13 13 ELTE to develop ‘good teaching ’ suggests a curriculum that would need to include A craft – opportunities to learn from ‘experts’ A science – opportunities to understand thinking underpinning ‘the method/approach’ and how to use it in the classroom in the expected manner. A complex open skill - opportunities to observe, practice, discuss experiences of, both the ‘parts’ and the ‘whole’ of the skill – through for eg: o experiences of teacher educator modelling o opportunities to ‘try out’ : micro teaching, classroom observation and teaching…

14 14 Professionals Professionals in most societies: Have high social status and good pay Are accountable for what they do Belong to a professional body Have professional training after their initial degree Keep themselves up to date in their field Are autonomous, and expected to use their knowledge and skills to make appropriate decisions in different situati ons

15 15 ELTE to develop Professionals Suggests a curriculum that would try to provide trainees with opportunities to eg: Become autonomous, through being given (some) personal responsibility for their learning, and chances to develop flexible decision-making skills in ‘real settings’. Become well-informed, through providing access to up-to- date knowledge/contacts in their area of learning, and of how to access such knowledge/contacts in future Understand who they are accountable to, and in what ways. AND recognise the need for a coherent system of further training /updating throughout teachers’ careers.

16 16 Reflective Practitioners A view of Teachers as RPs. Suggests the need to focus on developing teachers’ (trainees’) understanding of why they do what they do when they do it. emphasises the importance of the THINKING behind the teaching behaviour, and views teachers as people who ‘think about’ their professional behaviour, and through such ongoing thinking continue to ‘learn teaching’. sees ‘learning teaching’ as a process of lifelong learning.

17 17 ELTE to develop Reflective Practitioners Suggests a curriculum that tries to provide trainees with opportunities to eg: develop noticing and observing skills observe and experience teaching spend time, alone and with others, thinking and talking about what has been observed/noticed/experienced and its implications for their understanding of teaching and their future teaching behaviours. learn how to access other people’s thinking, now and in the future, – literature – networks - conferences and how to evaluate – integrate-adapt or reject such thinking.

18 18 Technicists A technicist is someone whose role is primarily to carry out plans devised by others. Education systems might see technicists as a desirable goal for ELTE where Human / material resources limited Emphasis within the system is on accountability and standardisation Trainees might also see being told exactly what to do as desirable in the short term, in helping them develop the confidence to ‘feel ‘ like a teacher.

19 19 ELTE to ‘produce’ Technicists Suggests a curriculum emphasising opportunities to eg: Learn about / thoroughly understand the thinking underlying the syllabus and the materials that they will be expected to use. Develop the behaviours and skills needed to ‘cover’ the syllabus content, carry out whatever in-class activities that the syllabus expects and help learners to pass exams. BUT, if we acknowledge that teaching takes place in ‘diverse environments’, is a solely technicist goal for ELTE likely to prepare teachers adequately?

20 Teacher as Guru (Sharma 2012) Teacher as a person who Constantly strives as a person and a teacher – professional- reflective practitioner- a lifelong learner (of teaching) Has a commitment to the growth of students -a reflective practitioner- good teaching- good teacher Has a commitment to learning – good teaching –good teacher- reflective practitioner Has a concern for society –professional - good teaching-good teacher-reflective practitioner 20

21 ELTE to develop ‘Gurus’ Suggests a curriculum that provides many of the learning opportunities previously discussed Learning in the training ‘classroom’ Learning in the school ‘classroom’ Learning through ‘books’ and through contact with ‘experts’ Learning through ‘noticing’ what happens in clasrooms, and learning through trying out in practice Learning through thinking about issues alone Learning through discussion with colleagues and tutors Teacher Learning as an ongoing (lifelong)process 21

22 ELTE for diverse environments If the aim of our ELTE is to prepare teachers to work in diverse environments, Then, before deciding on goals for the ELTE curriculum in a particular local or regional environment, teacher educators need to try to understand the main features of the visible and invisible context of English language education in schools and colleges in their environment…. and use this understanding to develop ELTE curricula that will prepare trainee English teachers to be confident and effective in their (future) workplaces 22

23 Understanding teacher education contexts- why bother? The conference title, and ELT discourse today in India more generally (NCF 2005, NCF for Teacher Education 2009) suggest a desire to change (some of) what currently happens in the diverse classroom environments in which ELT in India takes place. 23

24 whether the desired changes become widely visible in Indian ELT classooms, will ultimately depend “ on what teachers do and think – it’s as simple and as complex as that” (Fullan and Stiegelbauer 1991:117), ELTE implicitly assumes that it can influence what teachers do and think. Its influence is likely to be greater if trainees can SEE that the ELTE curriculum they follow ‘fits’ the working environments they (will) find themselves in. Understanding the main visible and invisible features of the teaching environment is thus the starting point for developing ELTE curricula.that make sense to Ts and so perhaps affect what they do and think. 24

25 References Fullan, M and Stiegelbauer The new meaning of educational change. 2nd ed. New York: Teachers College Press. Malderez A and Wedell M Teaching Teachers: Practices and proceses.London.Continuum Sharma A.K Revamping Teacher Education : issues for reflection. In Visions of Teacher Education in India : Quality and regularity perspectives Vol 3. annex 3(i). Delhi. Ministry of Human Resources, Department of School Education and Literacy. Wedell, M and Malderez A Understanding language classroom contexts: The starting point for change London. Bloomsbury 25

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