Tony Gurr

Archive for the ‘Teacher Learning’ Category

How Good Are Your TEACHers?

In Classroom Teaching, ELT and ELL, Our Schools, Our Universities, Quality & Institutional Effectiveness, Teacher Learning on 07/07/2016 at 10:29 am

 

This is one of the first questions I ask when I sit down with a School Director or Teacher Trainer to develop a new PD (or CPD) initiative at one of our many Schools (both State and Private) and University Prep Schools (Hazırlık – also both State and Foundation) here in Canım Türkiyem.

Questions (Joseph O Connor quote) Ver 03

It’s not a bad question to kick off with, if you believe (as I do) that the talents, skills and savvy of language teachers is one of the critical determining factors in determining the level of LEARNing and success that LEARNers ultimately achieve.

 

Some TEACHers do not like it!

 

I guess that is because they assume I am only talking about the quality of their language and that I am taking on the role of the judgy-judger Native Speaker (NS) TEACHer – pushing elitism…and native speakerism!

 

I’m not – and my question is wider, closer to the advice of David Crystal:

“If I were in charge of a language-teaching institution, I would want to know four things about applicants: are they fluent? are they intelligible? do they know how to analyse language? are they good teachers? I would not be interested in where they were born, what their first language was, or whether they had a regional accent. There are absolutely no grounds for discrimination these days”.

 

Like David, my question is both about language quality and TEACHing ability – and, for safe measure, it is also about what a TEACHer knows about language / student LEARNing and what s/he does with that knowledge in (and out of) the classroom. It’s a question that touches upon the core ‘Educational Literacies’ that all TEACHers need.

Sith army knife (TG)

 

However, that question of mine is so often boiled down to a Language TEACHer’s knowledge and skills in English – their ‘Disciplinary Literacy’. And, I’ve been asked (a lot more than once):

So, what should the CEFR / GSE minimum level be – for a TEACHer?

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GSE vs CEFR

 

I’ve spent a lot of time thunking this one over, reading journals, and jumping around blogs this year. There are many that are pushing for minimum proficiency levels for TEACHers (including major ELT organisations and those that produce/administer ‘tests’…wonder why, acaba) – especially since the ELT paradigm shift towards performance-based understandings of what it means to ‘know’ a language. There are others who are resisting this idea…for many reasons.

TELLing the truth

 

Just like we would not want our kids to be taught maths by someone that did not know their multiplication tables (or even use a calculator effectively), the vast majority of LEARNers / administrators / parents (esp. parents) want their language TEACHers to be as good as they can be. Undergraduate TEACHers-to-be want their programmes to prepare them to be the best version of themselves before they step into the classroom. Being able to hear the answer to my question is surely the ‘right’ of each and every one of these critical stakeholders.

 

The problem is, of course, we all know (well, at least those that have LEARNed a second language) that language is not a finite or clearly defined entity, which you either know in its entirety or not at all. You do not ‘know’ a language in the same way you know ‘content’ – a poem, mathematical theorem or chemical formula. You can only know it more or less thoroughly. I know many people that ‘know’ Turkish grammar far better than I…but still struggle to win a battle with the Tax Office! I’ve also met many TEACHers with off-the-charts ALES scores (the m/c test all TEACHers need to pass to get a job in a Turkish university – and ‘technically’ the only tool these universities can use to hire their TEACHers)…but cannot have a half-decent chat with me!

 

However, most people seem to agree that language TEACHers need to:

  • be fluent
  • be intelligible
  • know the language they are TEACHing
  • be confident language users
  • know how to analyse language
  • know something about the language their students use (L1)
  • be an active language LEARNer themselves (improving their own language day-by-day)

 

The question, it seems to me, is how exactly a TEACHer (both NS and NNS TEACHers) ‘knows’ these things about him/herself – and how they ‘evidence’ these abilities to others.

What if 06

What do you thunk – remembering, for now, we are are only talking about the language skills / talents (or ‘Disciplinary Literacy’) of our TEACHers?

  • Could we add anything else to this list?
  • Should there be a minimum proficiency level for TEACHers here in Canım Türkiyem?
  • How should we ‘measure’ this proficiency level (do not say ALES)?
  • If not, how can we ‘know’ exactly how good our TEACHers are?
  • Should NS TEACHers here also be required to demonstrate the same proficiency level?

 

T..

Tony (logo new) 260316 ACG

The 2016-17 EDU, ELT/ELL and EDTECH Conference Calendar for Canım Türkiyem…Ver 1.0

In Conferences, ELT and ELL, Teacher Learning on 03/07/2016 at 11:17 am

And…here’s you guys thinking I had died…passed on…ceased to be…expired…gone to meet my maker…kicked the bucket…shuffled off my mortal coil!

 

No such luck…

Tony (logo new) 260316 ACG

…is very much alive and kicking!

 

Having strayed from the path of light (OK…not as much as Kylo Ren) and avoided me bouts of bloggery for as long as I have, I thought I’d re-launch the ‘ole blog with one of the best-selling, regular posts that seems to have been missed the most…esp. over AY2015-16 (so, please stop mailing me and sending FB hate-messages)!

 

As a fair few of you have noted, Canım Türkiyem has still not come up with a way to keep all of us (consistently) informed of the major EDUevents taking place in a given year – so, I guess, it still falls to me…

 

Problem is that…I have jumped the gun a wee bit! There are not many confirmed for 2016-17…good job this is only VER 1.0 and also that I will update the post as soon as I hear of any others.

 

As usual, I’ll kick off with the specific events here in Canım Türkiyem – before moving onto the International (and Regional) BIG BOYS…yani, those conferences that are far too far away (and too expensive for most of us to get to) …unless we work for an EDUorganisation that sends all its TEACHers on an international ‘jolly’ (while all the administrators / managers stay back at home to look after the shop)!

 ELT & ELL Conf Calendar (TG ver)

Here we go…

 

 

  • DATE: Sept 08 – 10
  • LOCATION: Boğaziçi University – Istanbul, Turkey.
  • EVENT/THEME: ITHET 2016 – The 15th International Conference on Information Technology Based Higher Education and Training
  • CONTACT/SITE: http://www.ithet.boun.edu.tr/ 

 

 

 

  • DATE: March 04
  • LOCATION: Radisson Blu Hotel – Istanbul, Turkey
  • EVENT/THEME: EdTech Summit (Eğitim Teknolojileri Zirvesi)
  • CONTACT/SITE: www.edtechturkey.com 

 

Canım Türkiyem (TG Ver 03)

 

As promised…the BIG BOYS! I’ve even added a couple of flipping good ideas for holidays in the States (if you have not made plans, yet)!

 

 

 

 

 

 

As ever, if you overhear a whispered conversation in a dark car park…let me know and I’ll get it up onto VERSION 1.1 – coming soon to a server near you!

 

T..

Why on Earth Do We Need Teacher Training?

In Adult Educators, Classroom Teaching, ELT and ELL, Guest BLOGGERS, Our Universities, Teacher Learning on 28/04/2015 at 5:52 am

Adams Quote (for Steve)

I have had intriguing tidings from some of my final year learners recently.  They are currently engaged in their second semester of “school experience,” where they spend one day a week under the tutelage of their mentor educators in local high schools.  In theory they are supposed to watch their mentors in the first term, and gradually be allowed to assume responsibility for teaching their classes in the second.  In the end they are asked to teach one, perhaps two entire classes on their own.

 Thinkers wanted (blog ver 02 TG)

The idea sounds a practical one – it’s often best to learn the rudiments of teaching from a professional.  In practice what has happened is this:  learners spend most of their time sitting at the back of the classroom watching their mentors undertake a series of repetitive exercises involving little or no language practice – gap-filling, cloze procedure and the like.  They are easy to mark and require the educator to undertake little or no extra-curricular activity.  It’s an easy way to pass the time in class.

Consequently many learners have complained of wasting their time on “school experience.” Not only do they have little or no involvement in classroom activity, but they are introduced to the jobsworth mentality in which educators do the minimum amount necessary to keep their learners amused and collect their salaries at the end of the week.  When the learners are given the space to teach their own classes, they are told to do the same gap-filling activities, as their mentors cannot be bothered to think up anything new.

 21C LEARNing Culture (TG ver 02 upgrade)

I am not in any way suggesting that this state of affairs prevails at every high school; I have encountered many enthusiastic educators willing to challenge existing approaches to pedagogy.  But what proves particularly disconcerting is that this jobsworth mentality is allowed to prevail at any institution.  It suggests that all the teacher training initiatives spearheaded by the British Council, the book publishers and other institutions have little or no influence on the way in which educators handle the day-to-day business of working with their learners.  Resources are spent to little effect – except, perhaps, to encourage institutions to spend more money on glossy textbooks and thereby increase author royalties.

Is there any possibility for change, or at least create the conditions for change?  Institutionally speaking, the prospect is a pessimistic one: many educators are so imbued with the jobsworth mentality that they perceive little or no reason to change their methods.  Even if they wanted to change, there is little or no incentive to do so.  Personal development assumes less significance than the monthly pay-check.  Even if individuals want to change, they will have to negotiate with their superiors, who might disagree with their views entirely.  Why rock the boat when things are going fine?

 Hocam will this be on the test

Perhaps the only workable solution is to begin from the ground up: to find ways outside the institution to set up initiatives dedicated not to teacher training per se, but to investigate methods of learning, both virtual as well as face-to-face.  This might require us to rethink the way institutions work – perhaps technology needs to assume a more important role in facilitating communication between educators and learners.  Much of the teacher training I’ve encountered has been fundamentally top-down in approach; follow the example of the trainer (like the mentor educator), and you too can learn how to work in class.  I’d favor a flipped approach, in which educators tried to listen to their learners and reshaped their classroom strategies accordingly.  Undergraduate learners could be made part of the collaborative process; the insights they have acquired in the three years of their university curricula might prove invaluable in creating new learning strategies.  While jobsworth educators are difficult to shift, there are still opportunities available to create new generations of educators with a genuine and lasting commitment to listening to and learning from their learners.  Who knows – even the learners might want to become educators in the future.

 Creativity (Einstein Quote ver 03)

Yet time is running out: frustrations increase.  My fourth-year learners have a disillusioned view of their chosen profession.  For them it is not a matter of learning about the way people think and react, but simply a matter of rehearsing time-honored drills practiced by their mentors.  Perhaps the teacher training institutions and the publishers need to rethink their approach to working with institutions; rather than trying to foist their products on their so-called ‘customers,’ they might be better advised to take a lengthy time out and listen to what people want, especially those at the lowest end of the pedagogical scale.  Otherwise we are simply reinventing an educational wheel which will very soon come off the axle that drives it.

Laurence Raw

Ankara, Turkey – 27 Apr. 2015

The 2014-15 EDU, EDTECH and ELT/ELL Conference Calendar for Canım Türkiye Ver 3.2 (…the Çanakkale “Upgrade”)!

In Conferences, News & Updates (from the CBO), Our Schools, Our Universities, Teacher Learning on 16/01/2015 at 8:32 am

I’ve decided to make a few tiny, tweeny-weeny changes to this year’s Conference Calendar!

8

Betting against canım Türkiyem (1915)

8

Yes, that image is the first one – heck…if Warren Buffett can say something outrageous about the States (and 1776), I thought I’d just borrow his words a wee bit (and apply them to our conferences here in canım Türkiyem)!

“Bizim konferanslar”, here in Turkey, have been getting a pretty good reputation over the last few years…and this year is shaping up to be the same!

8

The second change is that I am not kicking off with the International “big boys” this time around. Yani, those conferences that are far too far away (and too expensive for most of us to get to) …unless we work for an EDUorganisation that sends all its TEACHers on an “international jolly” (while all the administrators / managers stay back at home to look after the “shop”)!

You can find all the major international events at the end of this post.

8

The third change was not really up to me!

With the events this year (well, the ones that have been confirmed thus far) we are starting to see a bit of a “shift” towards…more and more joint events (this is good…cool even!) and a lot more EdTech Conferences (but not as many online or UNconferences as perhaps we should).

For this reason, ’tis no longer just the ELT/ELL Calendar

…but rather the EDU, EDTECH and ELT/ELL Calendar!

8

As usual…big, bad İstanbul dominates the calendar but word has it that a couple more are in the pipeline for “mother Anatolia” (a few schools are still being a bit coy about publishing their dates) – I’ll update this post as and when we get more information on these…I think we got up to Version 6.2 last year!

So, without further ado…here we go:

8

  • I. Eğitim Kongresi (1st Education Congress – Turkish) – 21.Yüzyılda Bir Eğitim Felsefesi Oluşturmak Ve Özel Okullar
  • Antalya, Turkey
  • 28 – 30 November 2014
  • INTCESS15 – 2nd International Conference on Education and Social Sciences
  • İstanbul, Turkey
  • 02 – 04 February 2015
  • 11th ELT CONFERENCEA Portrayal of Great Teaching
  • Çevre College – İstanbul, Turkey
  • 28 February 2015
  • LIF2015 (Language in Focus) – Contemporary Perspectives on Theory, Research, and Praxis in ELT and SLA
  • Caddadocia, Turkey
  • 04 – 07 March 2015
  • GlobELT 2015 – Teaching and Learning English as an Additional Language (with Hacettepe University)
  • Antalya, Turkey
  • 16 – 19 April 2015 
  • edtechİST 2015 – International Educational Technology Conference in Istanbul
  • İstanbul, Turkey
  • 18 – 19 April 2015 
  • AGUSL15Blended Learning into Autonomy
  • Abdullah Gul University (AGU) – Kayseri, Turkey
  • 24 – 25 April 2015
  • 5th BİLGİ ELT Conference  – The Post Method Era in ELT
  • İstanbul Bilgi University (Santral Campus) – İstanbul, Turkey
  • 09 May 2015
  • ICEFIC 2015 (International Congress on Education for the Future: Issues and Challenges)
  • Ankara University (Faculty of Educational Sciences) – Ankara, Turkey
  • 13 – 15 May 2015
  •  UDES 2015 (1st International Symposium on Language Education and Teaching)
  • Nevşehir Hacı Bektaş Veli Üniversity – Nevşehir, Turkey
  • 28 – 30 May 2015
  • 6th T-PLUS Event – The Impact of Training and Development
  • TOBB Unıversity of Economıcs & Technology – Ankara, Turkey
  • 12 – 13 June 2015

ELT & ELL Conf Calendar (TG ver)8

As promised – the International (and Regional) “BIG BOYS”…

8

  • LeWeb
  • Paris, France
  • 09 – 11 December 2014
  • BETT
  • London, UK
  • 21 – 24 January 2015
  • TACON2015 (21st TESOL Arabia International Conference) – Teaching and Learning in the Digital World
  • Dubai, UAE
  • 12 – 14 March 2015
  • TESOL 2015 – Crossing Borders, Building Bridges
  • Toronto, Canada
  • 25 – 28 March 2015
  • IATEFL 2015 – 49th Annual International IATEFL Conference and Exhibition
  • Manchester, UK
  • 11 – 14 April 2015
  • BALEAP 2015 EAP in a rapidly changing landscape: issues, challenges & solutions
  • Leicester, UK.
  • 17 – 19 April 2015
  • ISTE 2015 – Connected Learning. Connected World.
  • Philadelphia, USA
  • 28 June – 01 July 2015
  • BAAL 2015 – The British Association for Applied Linguistics Annual Conference
  • Aston University – Birmingham, UK
  • 03 – 05 September 2015

8

AND, a little bit of “sauce”:

8

  • LAL4 4th Language Arts and Linguistics Conference
  • Hong Kong, Hong Kong
  • 25 – 26 October 2014
  • Innovate ELT Conference – Now and into the Future
  • Oxford TEFL – Barcelona, Spain
  • 08 – 09 May 2015

As ever, please forgive me if I have missed any (just let me know and I’ll fix it, promise)…if you are still planning an event at your institution, get your skates on and let us all know (with a comment).

8

Take care…sevgili hocalarım!

The 2014-15 EDU, EDTECH and ELT/ELL Conference Calendar for Canım Türkiyem…Ver 3.1 (…even NEWer “Upgrade”)!

In Conferences, Our Schools, Our Universities, Teacher Learning on 23/10/2014 at 2:05 pm

OK – the “quiz”how many differences can you see – from Ver 2.3?

8

I’ve decided to make a few tiny, tweeny-weeny changes to this year’s Conference Calendar!

8

Betting against canım Türkiyem (1915)

8

Yes, that image is the first one – heck…if Warren Buffett can say something outrageous about the States (and 1776), I thought I’d just borrow his words a wee bit (and apply them to our conferences here in canım Türkiyem)!

“Bizim konferanslar”, here in Turkey, have been getting a pretty good reputation over the last few years…and this year is shaping up to be the same!

8

The second change is that I am not kicking off with the International “big boys” this time around. Yani, those conferences that are far too far away (and too expensive for most of us to get to) …unless we work for an EDUorganisation that sends all its TEACHers on an “international jolly” (while all the administrators / managers stay back at home to look after the “shop”)!

You can find all the major international events at the end of this post.

8

The third change was not really up to me!

With the events this year (well, the ones that have been confirmed thus far) we are starting to see a bit of a “shift” towards…more and more joint events (this is good…cool even!) and a lot more EdTech Conferences (but not as many online or UNconferences as perhaps we should).

For this reason, ’tis no longer just the ELT/ELL Calendar

…but rather the EDU, EDTECH and ELT/ELL Calendar!

8

As usual…big, bad İstanbul dominates the calendar but word has it that a couple more are in the pipeline for “mother Anatolia” (a few schools are still being a bit coy about publishing their dates) – I’ll update this post as and when we get more information on these…I think we got up to Version 6.2 last year!

So, without further ado…here we go:

8

  • I. Eğitim Kongresi (1st Education Congress – Turkish) – 21.Yüzyılda Bir Eğitim Felsefesi Oluşturmak Ve Özel Okullar
  • Antalya, Turkey
  • 28 – 30 November 2014
  • INTCESS15 – 2nd International Conference on Education and Social Sciences
  • İstanbul, Turkey
  • 2 – 4 February 2015
  • 11th ELT CONFERENCEA Portrayal of Great Teaching
  • Çevre College – İstanbul, Turkey
  • 28 February 2015
  • LIF2015 (Language in Focus) – Contemporary Perspectives on Theory, Research, and Praxis in ELT and SLA
  • Caddadocia, Turkey
  • 4 – 7 March 2015
  • GlobELT 2015 – Teaching and Learning English as an Additional Language (with Hacettepe University)
  • Antalya, Turkey
  • 16 – 19 April 2015 
  • edtechİST 2015 – International Educational Technology Conference in Istanbul
  • İstanbul, Turkey
  • 18 – 19 April 2015 
  • AGUSL15Blended Learning into Autonomy
  • Abdullah Gul University (AGU) – Kayseri, Turkey
  • 24 – 25 April 2015
  • ICEFIC 2015 (International Congress on Education for the Future: Issues and Challenges)
  • Ankara University (Faculty of Educational Sciences) – Ankara, Turkey
  • 13 – 15 May 2015
  • UDES 2015 (1st International Symposium on Language Education and Teaching)
  • Nevşehir Hacı Bektaş Veli Üniversity – Nevşehir, Turkey
  • 28 – 30 May 2015

8

ELT & ELL Conf Calendar (TG ver)8

As promised – the International (and Regional) “BIG BOYS”…

8

  • LeWeb
  • Paris, France
  • 9 – 11 December 2014
  • BETT
  • London, UK
  • 21 – 24 January 2015
  • TACON2015 (21st TESOL Arabia International Conference) – Teaching and Learning in the Digital World
  • Dubai, UAE
  • 12 – 14 March 2015
  • TESOL 2015 – Crossing Borders, Building Bridges
  • Toronto, Canada
  • 25 – 28 March 2015
  • IATEFL 2015 – 49th Annual International IATEFL Conference and Exhibition
  • Manchester, UK
  • 11 – 14 April 2015
  • BALEAP 2015 EAP in a rapidly changing landscape: issues, challenges & solutions
  • Leicester, UK.
  • 17 – 19 April 2015
  • ISTE 2015 – Connected Learning. Connected World.
  • Philadelphia, USA
  • 28 June – 01 July 2015
  • BAAL 2015 – The British Association for Applied Linguistics Annual Conference
  • Aston University – Birmingham, UK
  • 3 – 5 September 2015

8

AND, a little bit of “sauce”:

8

  • LAL4 4th Language Arts and Linguistics Conference
  • Hong Kong, Hong Kong
  • 25 – 26 October 2014

8

As ever, please forgive me if I have missed any (just let me know and I’ll fix it, promise)…if you are still planning an event at your institution, get your skates on and let us all know (with a comment).

8

Take care…sevgili hocalarım!

Tayyip Bey – You “Tried”, You “Failed”! Thank you for your “Hizmet”…

In News & Updates (from the CBO), Teacher Learning, Technology on 26/03/2014 at 11:14 pm

That last post of mine simply “cried out” for a follow-up…of sorts.

Twitter ban (logo)

It did, you know…

8

As I said, I try not to get involved with “political issues” on allthingsLEARNing – but when those issues interfere with how I “do business” (and…those people I respect, collaborate with and care about…), I feel I just have to stand up and say YETER is YETER!

8

Tayyip Beyyou LOST!

8

Tayyip Bey (Follow Up Post)

8

Plain and simple…

8

And, I did not even need Twitter to help me out…just a few #Tweeps, just a few #Tweachers, just a few #Bloggers – with integrity, intelligence and energy!

Hey, and you know what else?

I did not have pay them (300TL “a pop” is far beyond my means) or “bus them in” (on municipality buses…buses that my “tax lira” pay for).

8

Tayyip (the result)

8

We can “win” even when others “play dirty“!

OK – a small win…but a “real win” nevertheless.

8

That, my dear Hünkarım, is the power of social media!

8

Thank you for your “hizmet“!

But, Canım Türkiyem deserves more, deserves a lot more!

8

‪#‎twitterblockedinTurkey

‪#‎DirenTweachersInCanımTürkiyem‬

‪#‎WhatWouldAtatürkTweetTODAY‬

‪#‎GiveMeMyTwitterBackNOW

8

Tayyip (tied up) TG ver 02

 

8

Thank You for Your “Hizmet”, Tayyip Bey!

In News & Updates (from the CBO), Teacher Learning, Technology on 23/03/2014 at 8:02 am

I have lost the ability to #Tweet… – “legally”!

Tayyip and the Death of Twitter

8…and this is down to one man!

8

Those of you that know the blog…know that I do not usually talk “politics” here on allthingsLEARNing. I have always said politicians have no place in EDUcation…and we TEACHers are far too “honest” to want to get involved in their games.

However, the recent (and ridiculous) attempt to close down the #Tweetiverse is affecting the ability of me and my #Tweachers to LEARN, to SHARE and to COLLABORATE

…and thus  IMPROVE and EXPAND theLEARNing of our students!

8

Take a look at what #RTE’s ban has done to my blog readership in the past few days:

8

Thank you for your Hizmet 01

8

Thank you for your “HİZMET”, Tayyip Bey!

8

Now, this may seem “silly” to some of you – but we are EDUcatorswe LEARN best by “sharing”. I have done a few posts highlighting my own personal feelings on the value of #Twitter in a number of postseven been a bit critical of the #Twitterati meself!

But, we are talking about the freedom of expression here – and our RIGHT to LEARN!

8

I wonder how the ban of #Twitter is affecting real businesses” – the real businesses of very real Turkish citizens (and their families). There are many Turks eating and relying on e-bread to pay their bills and cover their rent these days.

8

Maybe, I shouldn’t whine and cry myself to sleep at night too much – it’s just a blog…it’s just a social media platform!

There are far more serious matters to worry about:

8

Erdoganocrasy

8

We have a saying in Turkish – “Gelebilir…her genç kızın başına“!

8

The DNA of GREAT Teachers – 3 “listicles” you have to read!

In Classroom Teaching, Guest BLOGGERS, Our Schools, Teacher Learning, Teacher Training, Uncategorized on 18/03/2014 at 9:59 am

Last week, allthingsLEARNing offered a bout of bloggery from guest-blogger Steve Brown (Is it all in the Genes?).

Today we have a follow-up guest-post from Cas Olivier (all the way from Harties“, a small resort town in the North West Province of South Africa). I never actually got to Hartbeespoort on “my walkabouts” around South Africa – but now I have a reason to do so…next time.

Cas (guest post slide) 01

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The story of how I bumped into Cas in the blogosphere is a funny one!

8

About 8 months ago, I was desperately looking for some new images to “steal” for one of my own posts on “GREAT TEACHers”. Yes, I know…some of you “hate” this phrase – but, come on – who among us all does not want their students to say something like – “Tony Hocam is a GREAT TEACHer”?

go on, tell the truth now!

8

Well, I was at a total loss – couldn’t find anything new to steal…sorry, “inspire” me! I had got totally fed up of using “brains” and “mirrors”!

I had lunch with my big, little girl and told her what was going on (actually, she wanted to know what all the “swearing” was about…the foul language that had been pouring out of my study all morning)!

Expletive (four)

I mentioned that I had overdone the whole “brain” thing – but I (still) liked the notion of “organic” TEACHing! She looked up and said “Dad…what about DNA – that’s cool”!

I jumped up…kissed her…and ran back to the study!

8

Not five minutes had passed…and the wave of obscene expletives began againbloody Google had spat out Cas’ book The DNA of GREAT TEACHers (spat it out straight in my eye it did) and I hated him almost immediately…with a passion!

Expletive (sixteen)

Hey, I am human – get over it! Least I’m honest…

8

You see…the same thing had happened to me when I “invented” (yes, I also “steal” ideas from me daughter – I am THAT daddy!) the term ASSESSment Literacy back in 2011 (I still “hate” Richard Stiggins…not really!) LEARNing, CURRICULUM and EDUCATIONAL Literacy, however, are still “mine” (and my big, little girl had nothing to do with them…that time it was “Dexter”, my dog…who will soon have a blog)!

I calmed down…and started “stalkingCas via his website-cum-blogLEARNingDESIGNs – could he be my long-lost brother (my dad had spent time in Cape Town, Durban and the Free State in the late-40’s), acaba?

Cas Hocam – I know you were born in the Free State…but, when exactly WERE you born? I want a date…and a pregnancy calendar!

 

I fell in love with the sample chapters that Cas was so generously sharing on his blog – I liked the complex simplicity of his THUNKs…and the common sense those thunks were screaming at me!

I forgave him (!)…got in touch via mail…and, his first act of cyber friendship was to send me a copy of his book. 

Paying It Forward is alive and well…in the “Harties”!

8

Cas and I started chatting about him doing a follow-up to Steve’s post – and although neither of us are fans of “listicles” (TY – Kevin Stein aka @kevchanwow in the big, bad Tweetiverse) he thought it might be fun…to do THREE of themin one post!

So, over to Cas!

DNA Question (for Cas)

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The DNA of GREAT teachers are described from a plethora of vantage points and they all have merit.

My vantage point is my latest book: The DNA of Great Teachers in which I use the ‘DNA-concept’ as metaphor to explain teaching paradigms and explain how teachers’ genetic teaching make-up influences their mindsets and teaching practices.

Once I started to “decode” teaching-DNA, I began to understand more and more about what made GREAT teachers so GREAT!

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GREAT Teachers (for Cas) 01

Let’s start with beliefs – and my first “listicle”:

 

The 10 Beliefs of GREAT TEACHers

  1. Teaching means to facilitate learning.
  2. Lesson planning means converting the curriculum into learning challenges.
  3. Their main tasks are to guide and support students.
  4. Are firstly followers and then leaders.
  5. Teaching is like developing new medicine. It must be based on patient needs and not the design preference of the manufacturer.
  6. The momentum of great teaching is maintained by questions asked by both themselves and the students.
  7. When students are not learning as expected, they change their approach.
  8. They cannot teach learners anything, but can make them think.
  9. Learning always starts from the known and progresses to the unknown.
  10. Lesson must cater for ‘short-legged’ and ‘long-legged’ students.

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As Tony might say – have a THUNK about it.

How many of these reflect your understanding of your own DNA? How many of them are beliefs – that walk-their-talk in your classrooms? Are there any in there that you might disagree with? Why / Why not?

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GREAT Teachers (for Cas) 02

The second of my “listicles” is more focused on the classroom (I’m not that sure if that term is growing on me or not)!

Before you read mine…What would your own Top 10 List include?

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Questions (Joseph O Connor quote) Ver 03

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The 10 Things That GREAT TEACHers “DO” in the Classroom

  1. Determine the learning status of students and then become leaders to guide their learning.
  2. Manage their classes through good relationships.
  3. Deviate from their lesson-plan to enable students to gain quick learning-wins.
  4. Provide learners with scaffolds to work out their own answers.
  5. To achieve productive silence in a class, they ask questions. To achieve productive noise give students an activity to do.
  6. Use at least 5 teaching methods.
  7. Never give answers to questions. Rather provide students with scaffolds to enable them to work out their own answers.
  8. Ensure learners are acknowledged and feel clever.
  9. Ensure students master logical, critical, creative and big picture thinking skills.
  10. Encourage learning risk takers to speak their minds.

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How many were similar to your own listicle?

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GREAT Teachers (for Cas) 03

List 03now, this is one of my favourites.

None of us are “perfect”…we all have room to grow. But, GREAT TEACHers often take their DNA…and turn it into an “art form”:

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The Top 10 Things that GREAT TEACHers “do” to Improve

  1. Discuss their teaching with colleagues.
  2. Learn from any source to improve their teaching.
  3. Appreciate positive and negative critique on their teaching.
  4. Do not take critique personally.
  5. Keep on looking for better ways to engage students in more creative and challenging learning.
  6. Open to advice.
  7. Willingness to change.
  8. Remind themselves that they should not be the main source of information during lessons.
  9. Keep on looking for ways students can discover and create their own answers.
  10. Keep abreast by reading about teaching.

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Now, here’s a thunk or 2 (again, to “steal”…sorry, to be “inspired”…from Tony)!

How many of you work in schools that give you the “space” to do these things? Schools that create the conditions for “DNA mutation and adaptation” to take place – through LEARNing conversations between LEARNing teachers

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GREAT Teachers (for Cas) 04 (with cover)

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Cas Olivier   –   www.LearningDesigns.co.za   –   casper@mweb.co.za 

Is it all in the Genes? (from GUEST BLOGGER – Steve Brown)

In Classroom Teaching, ELT and ELL, Guest BLOGGERS, Teacher Learning, Teacher Training on 05/03/2014 at 8:25 am

Today’s bout of bloggery is from Steve Brown (aka @sbrowntweets on Twitter).

I first came across Steve when I was pointed in the direction of his blog post “21 Questions for Language TEACHers”. I have to admit I had not stumbled upon Steve’s blog – the very-easy-to-remember(The) Steve Brown Blog” – until Mike Griffin gave him a nod in one of his posts and I kicked meself for not seeing it earlier.

I loved his questions so I decided to stalk his blog pages a wee bit more. When I came up for air, I told him (via Twitter) that I was sorry I had had not recognised his “bloggery genius” earlier – and then asked if he’d be interested in answering a question (rather than just helping us thunk over his – he has just done another wonderful “quiz” for all us teachers, too…take a look)!

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He agreed – and here we are this morning!

THUNKers Wanted (for Steve)

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When Tony asked me to do a guest post on his blog I was flattered, then excited, then a bit scared.

I got (really) scared at the point when he “suggested” I try answering this question:

DNA (LEARNing TEACHer) Blog ver 01

Freakishly scary, right?

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I mean, where do you start? This question isn’t just about what makes a good teacher, but what (if anything) is hard-wired into a person that predisposes them to effective, reflective, developmental teaching.

At least I think that’s what the question is!

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So, let’s start with a definition of a LEARNing TEACHer.

I would suggest that this is a teacher who continues to LEARN throughout their career. Someone who recognises that completing a teacher training qualification does not make you the “finished article”. Someone who realises that there is no finished article.

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Parker Quote (for Steve)

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Someone who constantly seeks ways to…

improve,

develop and

enhance their skills & talents.

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If this is our definition of a LEARNing Teacher, maybe we can identify what qualities such a person needs to have.

They need to be able to take new information on board, to respond well to feedback, to pick up new information and ideas, and to have the technical skills to put them into practice.

LEARNing Quote 01 (Steve)

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Of course, much is made of such qualities in the world of ELT teacher training courses. Trainees are expected to make steady progress from observed lesson to observed lesson, absorbing new information from input and feedback sessions then putting it into practice at the very next opportunity.

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But all that stuff is LEARNable!

Adams Quote (for Steve)

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You can LEARN how to manage a class, how to give instructions, how to do effective boardwork, how to clarify language, how to correct errors. This is what the ancient Greeks called poeisis – the implementation of techniques. You learn what needs to be done, then you do it.

Is that all that teaching involves though? Is it just a matter of following set procedures, using tried and tested techniques?

Sure, you need to be able to acquire those technical skills, but you also need to know when to use them.

Best TEACHers (new ver) TG

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Teaching is an essentially human activity; you’re working closely with real people, and these real people will respond in very varied ways to the techniques you implement.

A sensitivity to these responses and an ability to react appropriately are therefore crucial. This is more like what the ancient Greeks called praxis – action that is informed by a wider context, taking into account the moral, socio-economic or political consequences that your teaching might have, beyond the classroom.

I mean the impact on the students’ lives, and the resulting consequences for society in general.

Resnick Quote (for Steve) TG ver

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In terms of what goes into a teacher’s DNA, therefore, the skills themselves are less important because they are LEARNable. What is more fundamental is an inherent AWAREness of the “implications” of employing these skills.

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But the question isn’t just about a good teacher; it’s about a LEARNing teacher.

So as well as an awareness of what you’re doing, there needs to be something else in the DNA that “drives” you forward, that keeps you “wanting” to LEARN more.

Resnick Quote TG ver

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I would suggest that this requires FOUR qualities:

Interest

You can’t LEARN how to be interested in something – either you’re interested or you’re not. So you need to have an interest in the subject you teach, and you also need to have an interest in the whole “business” of teaching and LEARNing.

Motivation

Again, this has to go in the DNA because you can’t LEARN how to want to do something. Desire to take action comes from somewhere very deep down. 

Inquiry

I suppose you could argue that this is very closely related to motivation, but it’s not exactly the same. While motivation is a desire to take action, inquiry is a desire to find things out. You can have your interest piqued or your curiosity raised, but I think that a constantly questioning approach to life, or a reluctance to just accept everything as it is, is something you either have or you don’t have.

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Tolstoy Fish Quote (new ver) TG

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Humility

In order to get better at something, it is important to be able to recognise how bad you are at it. In fact, failures or shortcomings need to be welcomed and embraced as opportunities for development.

We tell this to our students, so we need to demonstrate these qualities in ourselves as well. Humility is certainly something that can be developed, but the ability to equate failure with opportunity is something that some people find very difficult, and others find impossible.

LEARNing and ADAPTATION (Steve)

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I’m not sure I’m doing very well here in describing what the DNA of a LEARNing teacher looks like, though.

Can we visualise it?

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Apparently, regular DNA looks like this:

DNA (Steves Ver)

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You’ve got the four chemicals Adenine, Cyostine, Thymine and Guanine, surrounded by sugar and phosphate.

Maybe the DNA of a LEARNing Teacher can look pretty similar.

Replace the four chemicals with Interest, Motivation, Inquiry and Humility, and surround it all with…AWAREness!

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What if 06

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Of course this is incredibly “unscientific” and I apologise to everyone who actually knows something about DNA. I would welcome any comments from such people.

Trying to answer Tony’s question has raised three related questions for me, which I think I can answer now:

Steves ANSWERS

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Steve Brown

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Back to Basics – “QUESTION Basics”, that is!

In Classroom Teaching, Teacher Learning, Technology on 04/11/2013 at 2:45 pm

DNA (LEARNing TEACHer) Blog ver 01

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I’ve been getting a lot of flak recently for doing so much on all that “bloody TECHnology stuff”!

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Come on…not my fault!

I’ve been doing a few programmes / projects of late that are designed to put the TECH into the EDwithout forgetting the LEARNing – especially the TEACHer LEARNing!

Afterall…

Tech Change (Clay Shirky quote) ver 01

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…and, Clay is a guy I choose not to disagree with too much

(unless it’s about hair-styles)!

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Now, the plan (for this current post) was to look at some of the questions that we (as TEACHers) really need to be asking ourselves as we look at ways to “use” (more) EDtech – to enhance what we need to be doing….to help our students do more with the stuff they are supposed to be LEARNing….with us!

Yes, that’s a mouthful…and a half.

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That’s because we need to be doing more than just “DOing” stuff in the classroom…

Thinkers wanted (blog ver 02 TG)

…we need to be THUNKing DOers – in our classrooms!

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What I was going to do (in this post) was look at a few of the questions all TEACHers need to ask BEFORE they jump on the latest band-wagon or hand over their credits cards to one of the many…

Digital Cheerleaders ver 02

…that are out there – lots of whom (sadly) are TEACHers, too!

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You know, questions like:

LEARNing First TECH Laters 01

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This one is even “sexier” (probably because I stole and co-opted it from Clay Christensen):

LEARNing First TECH Laters 02

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Not only the EDtech you “hire” yourself…what the school also hires – for you!

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Why, Tony?

Why do we need to question everything?

I just want to get on with my job…

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Well, because…of what Uncle Clay (the first one) tells us above – but perhaps, more importantly,

NEW and SHINY

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Let’s look at an example (very) close to home (if you live here in canım Türkiyem):

Fatih Project

I am a Turk now – can say what I want about OUR projects!

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Did it work? Is it working? Will it ever work – if we throw more money at it?

Why not?

DUMB things with SMARTboards (Heidi Hayer Jacobs quote) ver 02 TG

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What’s the price-tag?

Taxpayer

Me thunks…someone, somewhere got some ‘splaining to do – to all us tax-payers!

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Questions, questions, questions…are GOOD!

Never let anyone tell you any different…

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If we start asking these types of questions (about allthingsEDtech), others just start bouncing around and out of the old grey matter:

How does this tech 01

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But, heywhy stop at student LEARNing:

How does this tech 02

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…when we can (also) do so much more with our own TEACHer LEARNing!

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Questions, questions, questions…

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…because we all know (especially if you speaks a wee bit of Mandarin):

Questions (Chinese Proverb) ver 02 TG

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Now, that was what I WAS going to say (in this post)…but I won’t – because a few of you are a bit fed up withall that “bloody TECHnology stuff”!

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So, let’s really get back to “basics”:

What is this

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NEXT TIME…söz!

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