Category Archives: reflection

Introducing Tana Ebaugh and the Pioneer Training and Education Consortium

Tana Ebaugh and I met when we both began our journey at The SIT Graduate Institute in 2007. Since then, our lives have had the good fortune of intersecting in terms of ambition and location: teacher education in Daegu, South Korea.  Over many coffees, Tana and I would dream of a space where teachers from around the globe could come together to share a common understanding of teaching and learning. Now, Tana, and her colleague  Zhenya Polosatova (please see Mike Griffin’s excellent interview with Zhenya on his blog, ELT Rants, Reviews, and Reflections), have created this space in the Pioneer Training and Education Consortium (ptec).

And so it is with great honor and joy that I share with you this interview where Tana tells us a bit about herself, gives us a glimpse into ptec, and shares with us her hopes for teacher education. 

Tana, can you tell us a little about yourself?

Tana in actionI came to teacher education via a diverse collection of fields: electronics, microbiology, photography and graphic design. Each of these areas contribute to who I am as a teacher and a teacher educator. I have taught mostly adults in Thailand, the US, and in Korea. I believe that the learner is as important as the learning, and that as an educator in the classroom I need to involve them in the both the content and the process of their learning. Sometimes I am the holder of knowledge, but most often I see myself as a guide, a facilitator of learning.

How was ptec born? 

It starts with the professional relationship that I developed with my colleague, Zhenya Polosatova, in the winter of 2011—a meeting of education beliefs, of joy in learning, and in working with others. In the summer of 2012 we were contracted to write a TESOL certificate program for UCC Center, a teacher training organization in South Korea. Once our project was complete we realized that we had a valuable training tool that could reach beyond its original mandate. Putting that together with other trainers we know and respect, and developing a network to reach out to teaching organizations/institutions and education ministries seemed a next logical progression. This means that ptec is a space for trainers/educators and organizations/institutions to meet. It is a starting point for delivering and developing learning-centered, contextualized training and education for teachers.

If you could choose three words to describe ptec, what would they be and why?

Evolving. We are still building the concept, modifying it to more effectively connect trainers/educators with organizations. We are still clarifying what ptec is and what it is not. To borrow from the design field, you could say we are a boutique style consortium. We are a niche of trainers and organizations that cares deeply about learning, that is interested in context sensitive trainings and workshops, that realizes the preeminence of culture in all that we do vs. being a job site with everyone in mind. Consortium. We choose to be a consortium because we want to build community between organizations and trainers and learners, not just be providers. Focus. As with our Consortium at large, our blog is focused on training and education issues vs ESL/EFL teaching per se. We focus on student learning through teacher education and development.

One of ptec’s offerings is a TESOL Certificate course. What would you say makes your TESOL curriculum stand out from all the other teacher training programs?

Tana

Our TESOL curriculum is based on core principles that are carried through to the level of trainer plans. Our major accomplishments are that the course is competency based and has built-in needs self-assessment sessions so that it can be modified during the training itself to meet each particular group’s needs, e.g. Korean teachers of English, new teachers, administrators. Through the use of these needs assessments and the ongoing use of the learning log (a documentwhich details the competencies that may be covered during the course), the course participants develop an awareness of their knowledge and skills and actively engage in reflective practice. The course is geared for both native and non-native speakers, with materials with which A2 level (*see below for links)  language learners can actively engage.

If someone is interested in getting involved in ptec, what can they do?

As a potential Member, you need to be: 1) a certified trainer, e.g. CELTA and SIT’s licensure programs, or 2) in the process of being trained up, or 3) be recommended by at least two ptec members who you have trained with on a course. You must be an active reflective practitioner that is comfortable working in community and enjoy modifying courses/sessions/workshops to meet the needs of individual groups of participants. As a potential Alliance, you are an organization that partners with ptec Members to deliver and/or develop courses/workshops, or purchases ptec courses from individual ptec Members. It is easy to get in touch with ptechttp://pioneerconsortium.com/contact-us/

What are your hopes and dreams for ptec and teacher education in general?

For ptec I wish for Alliances with institutions and organizations that value the learner and the learning process. I wish for members that want to develop in community with other trainers/educators to find a space to meet. I hope that the blog entries to add to the KASA (Knowledge, Attitude, Skills, Awareness) of those involved with learning and teaching through provocative yet sensitive discussion.

For teacher education I think two of the most progressive things we can do are: 1) facilitate a personal relationship to reflective practice. A process that cannot be dictated and all must follow and 2) facilitate a teacher’s KASA: Knowledge, of their content areas and of the teaching process; Attitude, honoring themselves, their students, their colleagues, and other stakeholders; Skills, their practice—actions taken, how they deliver their content, how they interact with students, etc.; and Awareness, of their impact on others, the interconnectedness between teacher-student-content-environment, and their own needs.

With such a vision for teacher education, I am very excited to see ptec out there in the world. If you feel the same way, why not let Tana and Zhenya know? Leave a comment below, or on their website.

* A2 language level links:

Weekly Photo Challenge: A (Satur)day in My Life

I usually enter the weekly photo challenge via my personal blog, but after recording a day in my life, it was clear — once again — that there is a fine line between personal and “professional”. I invite any of you ELT photographers to join in on the fun. :)

I had a surprisingly geeky good time — maybe not that surprising to those who know me– diving into the new textbook of the semester. I read about superheroes and what makes a regular person a hero, and figured out ways to modify the material to make it more relevant to our teacher-trainees. A big thanks to @bora_maren for generously — and randomly — giving me a sample last semester.

Truly enjoying this textbook. First textbook use in 4 years. Blog report to come.
Truly enjoying this textbook. First textbook I use in 4 years. Blog report to come.

It was then time to unveil the results of our #KELTchat poll for the chat Sunday night. Although most of the KELTchat crew was either presenting at (Mike Griffin, John Pfordresher and Alex Walsh) or attending the KOTESOL Seoul Conference, they were ready to spread the news and retweet at the sign of the hashtag – congratulations to Anne Hendler for being the quickest RT draw in town — or Seoul.

The last task of today was reading and giving feedback on the teacher-trainees’ reflections on giving and receiving feedback; yes, quite meta. They wrote this after they did their short experiential lessons called “The Teaching Game”, where teachers teach a 5 minute lesson on anything other than language (i.e.: origami, dance moves, magic tricks…). I learned a lot about how they processed the experience.

Teacher-trainees reflecting on the feedback process, and me giving them feedback on their feedback experience. #meta
Teacher-trainees reflecting on the feedback process, and me giving them feedback on their feedback experience. #meta

What will tomorrow bring? I’m looking forward to tackling this challenge again this week.

The Mirror That Sees Me (a short story)

The following tale was inspired by my experiences at Centro Espiral Mana; in and near La Fortuna, and Liberia, Costa Rica; and during the SIT TESOL course. I hope you enjoy my attempt at creative expression. :)

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There is a mirror out there that has great clarity. Once you look in this mirror, you’ll see your truth reflected. When you first take a look, you may not believe what you see because your heart is too clouded. I have a remedy for this cloudiness.

First you must go to the rainforest. Visit the sloths, the iguanas, the tree frogs, the vultures, the howler monkeys, the flying fish, the scorpions, the fire ants, the toucans, and the blue butterflies.

Eat papaya, pineapple, rice and beans, lemons, mangos, and avocado. Drink the coffee. This is all prepared by loving hands and you will taste the essence of pura vida

You may meet a lovely Mexican woman who shares her traditional dishes with you. A kind lady from Honduras helps her prepare these meals. Accept their food with gratitude as they blend it with love. You need this love in order to see your reflection.

Walk to the river. You’ll meet a dog with no name. He will teach you about unconditional love. All he wants from you is your presence. Be present. Breathe. Feel the earth beneath you.

Swim in volcano water and cleanse your doubts. Make a detour at the healer’s house. It is deep in the jungle. Listen to her words and accept her healing hands.

When you you’ve done all that I’ve mentioned above, you’ll notice that some of the haze has lifted from your heart. But there is still a bit more clearing to do.

After a while  you’ll come to a place at the end of the road. Here you’ll meet four teachers. Listen to them. Observe them.

the four guides

They’ll hold up the mirror and show you ways of looking at yourself. These ways may seem unconventional. They are. Trust them.

Now, look into the mirror one more time. The fog has lifted. Do you see? You are more than you knew. You are you.

A Final Learning Statement at Centro Espiral Mana, SIT TESOL

On Friday, the February 2013 SIT TESOL course at Centro Espiral Mana ended. When a course closes here, participants are asked to create a final learning statement, summarizing what they have learned over the four weeks. Some participants wrote songs, poems, or essays, some created visual representations, and others recorded narratives. Each of these creations highlighted the inspiring process that goes on at Centro. Tony Paredes — a teacher from Tarapato, Peru — created the comic strip below. I asked Tony if I could share his learning statement  because I thought it was a great example of how some experienced teachers feel after taking this course. As Tony shows us, it’s truly transformative.

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Week 1 at Centro Espiral Mana, SIT TESOL

Centro Espiral Mana - February 2013

Fourteen teachers from Chile, Panama, Mexico, Honduras, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Peru and Costa Rica are at the Centro Espiral Mana in El Invu, Costa Rica working to achieve their goal of receiving the SIT TESOL certificate. We’ve been here for two weeks. My journey is different from theirs. I’m here training to be an SIT TESOL trainer. Training here has been a dream of mine for a few years now, and I’m happy to say that the experience stands up to that dream (see my last iTDi blog post to read more about this dream). I’m grateful for all the learning and would like to share a bit of it with you.

Looking back on my first week at Centro Espiral Mana, there are three sessions that stand out, and that have set the tone for my time here:  Amanda Rossi’s session on ECRIF (Encounter, Clarify, Remember, Internalize, Fluently Use – a learning framework created by Mary Scholl, the founder and director of Espiral Mana, and Joshua Kurzweil); Roger Ramirez’ session on the experiential learning cycle (ELC); and Mary Scholl’s session on Compassionate Communication (see Nonviolent Communication/NVC). Not only have these sessions set the tone for me, but I now realize they are the foundation of the transformative process participants experience from day one at this center. The themes that run through all these sessions are a focus on the learner and learning, and an integration of this focus within the community of practice that is cultivated here. These themes hinge on the positive regard that each of these trainers hold for the participants and the content of this course.

“You are being ECRIFed.”

“You can ECRIF it.” – referring to other methodologies we may be familiar with.

“You’re going to ECRIF your ECRIF.”

Amanda

Experiencing Amanda’s processing/explanation of ECRIF (see chapter 2 and 3 in Understanding Teaching Through Learning) was when I realized the depth of this learning/teaching framework. It isn’t only about planning a language lesson; it’s a way to approach learning on a larger scale. As I type this, a tinge of embarrassment flows through me because it seems so obvious — but the fact is that it wasn’t. Yes, when I first studied this framework, I understood how this framework focuses on the learner, but for some reason my image of that learner was a student in a language classroom. Perhaps I just put ECRIF next to other frameworks such as PPP and PDP. These are frameworks that have long been promoted in language classrooms, but I have never made the connection between these and real life. Once Amanda said those quotes above, something clicked within me: ECRIF goes beyond the language classroom. It is a model for learning in general, and this is what we experience each day, almost each moment, at this center. We encounter new information. We try to fluently use it, and come back to a place where we have to try and consciously remember what we’re doing. We may internalize a few things, and at some we may come to a place where we can fluently use the skills we learned here. Unlike a language lesson, we won’t experience this within a 50-minute timeframe. Some of us may not even see the end of the ECRIF pattern until we have left these plush green surroundings.  But some day, with enough doing and reflecting, we will finish the cycle, and of course begin it again when we encounter another experience. The cycle never truly ends.

“You’re becoming Deweys. You’ll become your own theorists.”

“You decide where you’re going. We just provide the container.”

“We try to create an environment where feedback is a gift.”

Roger

Roger’s ELC session was the missing link that I had been looking for quite some time. Hearing such confidence and wisdom behind these beliefs helped me understand what I had been so curious to see in action for the past five years. Coming out of my MA studies, and having done the online section of this training up process, I created my own ideas around reflection and the ELC. I tried my best to implement this into our teacher-training course back in Korea, but I always felt I fell short. Making the connection between what Roger was saying and the session on ECRIF, was eye-opening. The ELC gives us the tools to look at the learning process from a bird’s eye view: we hover above an experience, get a clear picture, and from here experiment with ways to swoop in. In this TESOL course, participants experience ECRIF from many different perspectives, and by taking these experiences through the ELC, they are able to create their own theories of learning and teaching. By combining these two frameworks, a transformative process of learning begins.

Roger also helped me see is that the ELC is part of everything that happens at this center – and this center is its community. When we integrate the ELC with community, this is when experience is celebrated and instigates real change. Participants explore their experiences by bouncing observations, theories and objectives off each other. Through meaningful and compassionate feedback, they learn to see themselves in new ways. The community helps them see things they couldn’t see before.

~ Seeing through the lens of compassionate communication ~

Mary

Mary’s session on compassionate communication was a sweet gift. My biggest reason for coming here was because I was curious to learn how she managed to integrate compassionate communication into teacher education. I saw glimpses of it in the first three days of this course: in the way Roger approached the education of this center; in the way Amanda helped me see the community of Espiral Mana; and in the way Mary spoke to participants. But when I saw how she connected the ELC to compassionate communication another light bulb went off. Because the participants had three days implicitly experiencing the ELC, I think connecting it to compassionate communication created a space for the participants to feel open to the concept. Having already experienced feedback on their teaching, and the empathy and positive regard with which trainers here facilitate the process, participants may have started seeing how compassion is part of the program at this center. As teachers, they also have a sense that being present to their students’ feelings and needs is an important part of teaching. However, they may not have had many opportunities to purposefully see through these lenses. They may not have been given these glasses. Mary gave them these glasses and has set up the space for compassion to come through all they experience here.

I’m excited about getting to the “F” of the learning that Amanda, Roger and Mary have scaffolded for me in these three moments and in all that they do. I am incredibly grateful for their guidance and support.

Related articles:

Carol Rodgers - Defining Reflection: Another Look at John Dewey and Reflective Thinking 

Carol Rodgers - Seeing Student Learning

Feedback in the hallway

During the three years that I’ve taught in this teacher training program, I’ve managed to find a comfortable balance between the two roles I play: teaching Korean English teachers how to improve their writing skills, and also teaching them how to teach writing.  Although this division may seem clearly defined, the teacher-trainees have different needs compared to their students, so making space for these two contexts has always been something I’ve been conscious about.

However, my level of consciousness seems to have shifted this semester. Due to my position in the pecking order, I’ve become the lead trainer/teacher (the previous lead trainer moved back to England), which means I have new responsibilities and courses to teach.

Today I realized how much this has put me off balance.

The Scene

In the hallway between classes:

“Josette, I feel like a mess and I’m depressed. I’m really not comfortable with this essay assignment due next week. I’ve never really seen an essay until this week and now I have to write my own by next Thursday. When you asked us to write a paragraph last session, you taught us step by step so I felt like I could do it, even though I still thought it was challenging. But now I don’t really understand the different elements in an essay and I need to write one so fast. My ideas don’t feel organized. “

The realization

In my head:

“Wow, ___ ‘s right. Could she/he have said that more clearly? That’s amazing feedback. I usually take them through each part (introduction, body, conclusion) much sooner than this. I usually spend a whole class on just one of these parts! I also usually ask them to read a few essays so they can get comfortable with the format. This time I just showed them one essay. Then in the second class I introduced all the parts of an essay and said “write.” Barely any support.* What was I thinking! This is so not cool. And I’m supposed to be a model for their own teaching? Man.

The interpretation

  • Maybe I did this because during next session (starting in one week) I won’t be teaching my usual writing methods class, so I tried to compensate for that loss of hours by combining that syllabus to this session. This took away some of my usual essay intro/teaching time.
  • Maybe I read their abilities wrong.
  • I haven’t asked for my usual feedback so I really don’t know how they feel about my course so far.
  •  Maybe I took into account the feedback I got from last semester’s participants when some said the course was “too slow”.
  • Maybe I just thought that was enough exposure for them to be able to write an essay.
  • Maybe this person is the only one who feels this way.
  • Maybe I’m super tired and have been spending too much time staying in the office writing observation feedback and feedback on other writing assignments. I’m not giving myself space to plan and reflect as usual.

More possibilities? I’m sure.

Now what?

  • This participant and I have sent texts back and forth. We are going to work through this together. They will send me an email this weekend with what they’ve come up with and we’ll go from there.
  • I’ve written this post. I really needed the space to think about this interaction. Typing this description and interpretation has given the relief and distance I need to look forward.
  • I still need some time to think about how I approached all this and how I want to change things in the future.

All I know is that I am grateful for this moment in the hallway. Lately I’ve felt like I’ve been so focused on tasks and projects beyond the classroom. I’ve also sensed that I was becoming complacent about my roles in class. I felt these things, but haven’t been doing anything about it. This little hallway feedback was just what I needed to start.

*I consciously avoided the term “scaffolding” thanks to the reflections in my first iTDi class with John Fanselow. :)

Note to self and whoever out their cares about such geeky things: This was the fastest blog post I’ve ever written: 30 minutes.

The difference between love and a stick

Each semester, I get to know our course participants via dialogue journals. I’ve written about my apprehension in giving this assignment in past (The Bittersweetness of Dialogue Journals – Take 2), but this journal entry, written by Mr. Go Jong-hyun, is another wonderful reminder of why I keep doing it.

Mr. Go was kind enough to let me share his entry with all of you. This is especially meaningful considering the topic of my last post, The love stick that motivates (I highly recommend reading the heart-wrenching, yet enlightening, comments).

In response to the question, Who was your favorite teacher? Why was he or she your favorite teacher? How would you like to be like him/her?, Mr. Go writes:

I was asked those questions in the test to become an English teacher several times. Whenever I think about it, I cannot help remembering my old home room teacher whose name was Kyoung-hwa Kim in the middle school. I was second to last in the elementary. I even had to have the supplementary classes for the students of underachievement in the elementary school. I was beaten with sticks, even slapped in my face by some of my home room teachers because I couldn’t do my homework. No teachers complimented me because I was poor at studying. However, I took the head in cleaning up the classroom. When I was a first grader in the middle school, most students shirked their duty during the clean-up time, but I steadily cleaned up my area. One morning, Ms. Kim spoke high of me because I cleaned the classroom diligently in front of the all classmates. She also said I would excel in study. I was panicked for a while, but very happy to hear that. Her compliment changed me. Her positive reinforcement and trust in me got me not to let her down. I studied and tried to be the best student to rise to her compliment. Finally, my score improved very much, and I became a class leader. I can’t forget her, and am in debt forever to her. Kyoung-hwa Kim was and is my favorite teacher always because she was the best example of the teacher.

The compliment and belief of a teacher have wonderful and compelling power to change and motivate students. I teach where there are many naughty and low-level students comparing with the other academic high schools. However, I always try to look on the bright side of them, and believe them. I always made zealous effort to have trust in my students; they can be changed. I believe the power of optimism and trust. I will compliment my students on every efforts, unique talents and strong points as well as good scores like my great teacher, and then students will rise to my expectations.

Thank you so much Mr. Go.

The Creative Joy of Final Learning Statements

In three days, our training course will be over. In these final days, it’s time for participants to look back over their four months together and reflect on what’s been meaningful and what they’ve learned. To help them do this, I asked them to respond to a list of questions Mary Scholl (SIT teacher-trainer) created and kindly shared with me. Below are a few examples:

  • If you were to choose 10 words to describe your experience in the course, what would they be?
  • If your experience in the course were like weaving a beautiful cloth, what would be the threads that hold the cloth together?
  • How would you explain your experience in this course to a five year old?
  • What would your ideal motto be in the future?
  • If you had to sell this course, what would your slogan and ad campaign look like?
  • Go through all of your journal entries from the course. Choose the ones that are most meaningful to you. Why are they meaningful?
  • Make a metaphor for how the course has affected you. Be juicy and deep in your description.

With these questions, they created final learning statements that would then become the front cover of  their learning portfolios. They kept this portfolio throughout my writing course.  I encouraged the participants to be as creative as they wanted, and as you’ll see, they didn’t hold back. During our final learning statement gallery walk (gallery walk explanation coming soon), I was inspired at each turn. I hope you feel inspired too.

Please enjoy the artistic exhbilition of learning!

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Privacy tip: Notice the funky, random strips on some of the statements? To keep the anonymity of my participants, I used the smartphone app Labelbox to cover their names.

Grounded in Reflective Blogging

2012 has been an interesting year so far, and that’s putting it mildly. It’s been full of incredible highs, but also a few unrelenting lows. I’ve been going through some difficult personal stuff: existential dilemma sort of stuff. In the last few months I’ve even heard myself say, “The only thing I’m sure of is that I’m not that sure of anything.” I felt like I had lost my groundedness. I’m happy to say that at least one foot has now secured itself to the earth.

As a teacher, this feeling just wasn’t cutting it. How could I teach when all I wanted to do was float away? A teacher is supposed to be sure. A teacher is supposed to be a tree her students can lean on: rooted.

I’d wonder, “How did I get here? Why am I letting my confidence slip away?”

Then I remembered my blog. Last year, I wrote a post a week. Monday was my day. I’d start writing in the afternoon and there was no way that post wasn’t going to be published before midnight. — And can you believe this was before I understood how to use Twitter? I only figured out the beauty of developing Twitter PLN (personal learning network) in October 2011! But that’s a story for another time.

I wrote about classroom moments that caught my attention during the week. Sometimes I’d write rigorous reflections à la ELC. Sometimes I’d simply share my thoughts on what a participant said or did. I loved organizing tags and categories, and I found playing with my blog’s layout quite meditative.

My blog was where I grounded myself. It was where I reflected. It was where I explored my beliefs and examined my actions. Via these reflections I was developing an understanding of my teaching and of myself. I was growing confidence.

2012 has not seen me blogging to this degree. For the most part, I’ve been neglecting my blog and tending to other matters.

Then it occurred to me: could it be that by not blogging I was creating more lows for myself? Was there a direct relation between my reflective blogging and the confidence I felt last year? I’ve been fascinated by this theory.

I’ve always said that my reflective practice helped me become a more confident teacher, but here I’ve been, barely writing. Of course, many other factors are surely connected to me losing my footing. But could I not be the subject of my own theory? If one gains confidence through habitual reflection, then wouldn’t the reverse be true?

Well, it’s Monday, and here’s my post. I’m not sure if I’m back like I was last year, but I’d like to try. I posted last Monday, and I’m grateful for the amazing feedback I got. This, and other friendly nudgings, definitely encouraged me to try again this Monday. I’m looking forward to testing out my theory, and seeing if I manage to ground myself again.

Our Reflective Community

You know that feeling when everything comes together at the right moment? I’m experiencing one of these moments right now.

A year ago I was asked if I was interested in organizing a “branch” of the KOTESOL Reflective Practice (RP) Special Interest Group (SIG) in Daegu. I said no. I just didn’t have the space in my life, so I turned down the idea.

Well, last Saturday, with the inspiring support (and nudging) of my friend and colleague KongJu (Princess) Suh, I facilitated our first Daegu RP-SIG meeting. A year after the initial request, the moment was right. There are some things that are just stronger than you, and the energy of the reflective teacher’s community here in Korea is one of these things.

Over a year ago, the RP-SIG was created by Michael Griffin (Mike), Manpal Sahota and Kevin Giddens. Since then, the Seoul RP-SIG, along with Daejeon’s group, has been very successful in raising the awareness of teachers from all professional backgrounds about the concept of reflective practice. Although I’ve supported the SIG by presenting about reflection at a few conferences, the more I heard about what was going on during the monthly meetings, the more excited I got about starting something in Daegu.

what’s the RP-SIG all about?

Seoul RP-SIG meeting (Mike facilitating)

In his article, The Reflective Practice SIG: What Is It? How
Can It Help You?, in the Spring 2012, TEC (The English Connection) News, Mike gives us a clear image of the SIG’s vision.

It seems to me that professional development often amounts to one person at the front of the room telling others how and why they should do something. In the RP-SIG, we try to get away from that and have members come to their own conclusions about their own teaching practices. It was with this vision of professional development in mind that we held the first RP-SIG meeting in February, 2011. The RP-SIG’s purpose is (a) to challenge our perceptions of who we are and what we do, (b) to build strategies to become a more aware educator, and (c) to share and learn through each others’ experiences and beliefs.

Challenging perceptions? Becoming a more aware educator? Sharing and learning through experiences and beliefs? Who wouldn’t want to be part of such a rich community? Mike definitely makes a convincing case for anyone who wants to start such a community of teachers.

Princess’ Daegu KOTESOL workshop on how to teach writing to Korean high school students

This community is what my nudger, Princess, was hoping to see in Daegu. One evening in March over dinner — after we had spent a few hours working on the presentation she was going to give on how to teach writing to high school students — Princess shared her dream of starting a group where English teachers could come together and talk about teaching. At this point, I was more keen about the idea of launching the SIG. We talked and got quite excited about it. But we wanted to be sure we could give it our all, so we decided to think it over and make it happen when the time was right. Three weeks ago, Princess called me and the plans for last Saturday were set in motion.

Model of an RP-SIG meeting

Knowing about Mike’s success in facilitating the Seoul RP-SIG meetings, I wanted to follow his model. He shares the meeting’s structure in the TEC News:

A typical RP-SIG meeting consists of  four parts: (a) ice-breaker – an interactive warming up session to break the ice, (b) check-in – groups of 3 or 4 discuss personal reflective goals, (c) discussion – facilitator leads group discussion to promote reflective practice, and (d) check-out – reaffirmation of personal goals and direction. We hope that members can take the ideas, thoughts, and experiences from the meetings and transfer them to their own contexts.

Since it was our first meeting, the nine teachers in attendance checked-in by introducing themselves and explained a bit about why they wanted to be part of the SIG. A few said they felt like they were becoming lazy in their teaching practices and wanted to feel better about teaching.

We then moved into the discussion part of the meeting where I decided to follow the model I had presented about a few weeks earlier (see An Image of Reflection: learning from my RP workshop). In pairs, we each shared a teaching/learning moment and explored it via the Experiential Learning Cycle. Our partner’s role was to help keep us focused by asking questions that pertained to each stage (ie: description stage – How many students were there? How big is the class? Was it a hot day?). Between each stage we regrouped and discussed how we felt about the process. This was extremely rich in that it allowed us to get a deeper understanding of the process while also getting a deeper understanding of our teaching/learning moment.

The meeting ended with the check-out. We made reflection goals for the month, shared them with each other, and decided we would share the results of our goal regardless of whether or not we were able to accomplish it. The important point is we are here to support each other as reflective teachers no matter what the results.

The beginning for us, how about for you?

So this is the beginning of our reflective community in Daegu! I’m very excited to see where we will go, but more importantly I’m very happy to be part of the larger RP community. Throughout its first year, the RP-SIG has been incredibly supportive, inspiring, and motivating. Teachers now have a place where they can share their experiences and expand there ideas in a safe environment.

I hope this post has given you more clarity on what a reflective teaching community can look like. Maybe you are now also inspired to start your own group. The reflective vibe is quite contagious. If you do decide to start a group, let us know! We’d love to help you out.