20. Notes from ELT Conference on Teacher Development

20 06 2011

These are notes prepared during the VI International & 42nd Annual ELT@I Conference on Teacher Development held at VIT University, Vellore, South India -16th to 18th June 2011

On Teachers

• In sixth Century India, teachers were accepted in society. They were respected for their knowledge and voluntary poverty. In the Gurukula, they took care of the children like their own family members. An acharya was one who reads, who learns and teaches what one has learned. His job was 24X7

• Today’s teacher teaches a set of students for one hour a day, and serves as a kind of knowledge manager.

On Teacher Development

• Teacher development is not related just to individuals or institutions, but civilization.There are several ways of developing professionally: Learning from workshops and experts, reading journals, reflecting on own teaching, peer mentoring and constructive feedback after class observation, constantly relearning and even re-inventing how to learn.

ELT in India

• The problems ELT is facing in India today include among others : Huge numbers; Limited resources; Not enough trained teachers; Unmotivated/un-motivating teachers; Boring books; Little exposure to standard varieties.

• Three reasons which paves the way for the deterioration of standards of English are 1. A move towards focus on introducing curriculum in the mother tongue 2. The entry of Hindi 3. Reservation of jobs for those who learn in the regional language.

On becoming a professional

• Some ways of becoming a professional include the following : Enjoying what one does; Keeping open to opportunities outside; Networking with others; Evolving own methods; Acknowledging own ignorance; Reading more; Efforts put for personal growth; Concern for the community; Care for the spark in the eyes of the student; Commitment to the profession; Engaging in research.

• The defining character of effective teachers would include: A passion for teaching, a concern for the learner, an urge to enhance own pedagogic competence, one who triggers thinking in learners, is eminently adaptable, empathetic and teaches for life and beyond.

• Training in technology can go a long way in becoming a professional. The expected model of training in technology for most teachers can have three phases: 1. Hands-on-training in face-to-face mode 2. Follow-up online training 3. e-mentoring and online support .

Questions for teachers of English

• Teachers of English need to ponder on the following questions : Is ELT a profession?; Does belonging to one makes one a professional?; Can one ever say one has become a professional and can stay so?

On creativity

• To Einstein the mysterious was the source of creativity. In the Upanishads it is stated that where there is creativity, there is progress. But the tragedy of India is that a major portion of the curriculum (aping the west) does not help in nurturing creativity possible through nurturing the left and right sides of the brain.

• To instil creativity in learners, teachers ought to understand what creativity is. Creativity doesn’t begin with the mind but with the heart. To nurture creativity in children enable them to develop the ability to see common everyday things in a fresh light.

The hallmark of good writing

• Communicates, uses only essential words, and the writer has the passions which comes out in the writing, follows logically from sentence to sentence and from paragraph to paragraph.

The future of learning

The future of learning is likely to result in the following ten Paradigm Shift :

1. Pedagogy : Didactic models to constructivist

2. Networking : Connectivism

3. Literacy : From Print to working in mutiliteracies

4. Heuristics : From client server to Peer to Peer

5. Formality: From hierarchical power centricity to informal learning

6. Transfer: Applying social networking skills and concepts from personal life to professional.

7. Directionality: From push to pull in dissemination of knowledge (Eg. RSS feed

8. Ownership : Proprietary vs Open Sources

9. Sharing: From guarded copyright to Creative Commons and fair use

10. Classification: Taxonomic to folksonomic