Recent BCTEAL Survey Data: Hearing from Our Members

Aughtry & Cummins
Standard

Karen Aughtry & Jennifer Cummins

This June, we put out a fresh survey among BC TEAL members to discover more about our demographic.

Completion rate for the survey was high. We had forty-six members respond, with over half (twenty-six) from Metro Vancouver. The remainder were eight from the Fraser Valley; four from the Okanagan; three each from the islands and Thompson-Nicola; and one each from Northern BC and other.

Firstly, we were curious about the areas of the sector that our members are from. Surprisingly, none of the responders were TESL students; rather, being a field of such diverse roles and niches, our respondents were from a broad variety of professional positions: The vast majority ranged in careers from LINC instructor, manager, coordinator to general instructors, managers, coordinators, lecturers, and assistant/associate professors. There were two responders who specialized in IELTS teaching and testing, one curriculum manager and case manager, directors, and a recruiter.

Next, we asked about the current employment situation of this diverse group. In terms of percent, 64% are full-time, and 19% are employed part time. Of the remainder, 13% are on contract, and 10% are “non-applicable”.  The vast majority work for one employer.  

We were also interested in the happiness index of our professional membership. Are they happy in their roles, are they surviving, or are they struggling through from one day to the next? Seventy-four percent reported that their current roles are ones they wanted and are satisfied with. Fifteen percent have not attained the position they desire, and eleven percent prefer not to say. Set in the context of 75% having worked more than fifteen years in the industry, there is longevity that speaks to their satisfaction. 

Next, we wanted to know the education level of our membership. Three have Doctoral Degrees, thirty-one have Master’s Degrees, and ten have Bachelor’s Degrees. 

In regard to longevity of membership in BCTEAL, results show that 45/46 of the responders have been in BCTEAL from two to more than ten years. Almost half of those members purchase yearly memberships, whereas a few have two or year memberships, and several have special discounted memberships.

Additionally, many of our members are associated with other professional groups. Although 30% belong solely to BC TEAL, TESL Canada is an added connection for 46%, TESOL International for 26%, and the Canadian Association of Applied Linguistics and IATEFL each have 6.5%. The other 22% belong to unnamed organizations.

Curious as to how much our responders participate in BCTEAL events and publications, we asked, “How have you participated in BCTEAL?” The vast majority (85%) both participate in yearly conferences and in reading newsletters. The next largest rating for participation (66%) is attendance at regional conferences and BC partner events. Many (77%) browse our website and 64% attend webinars or other online events. Of the respondents, 40% have volunteered with BC TEAL for events or positions.

Surprisingly, not many responders utilized BC TEAL’s social media! The highest draw is the Facebook site at 28%, with Twitter following at 19%. Instagram, the Blog, YouTube, and LinkedIn are scarcely visited.

So, what do the survey results say about BC TEAL (besides that only one person may be reading this blog article)?

The higher ratings by responders revealed that their professional needs were met by this organization in terms of professional development opportunities (87%), networking opportunities (67%), updates on current issues in English language teaching (61%), and communication and updates on association activities and events (57%).

Thus, when asked what they hoped to get from BC TEAL membership, “choosing all that apply”, EVERYONE checked the boxes for all the following: networking and professional development opportunities, discounts on conference and pro-d fees, advocacy for the profession, updates on issues, opportunities in leadership and volunteering, recognition, and access to awards and scholarships from the TEAL Charitable Foundation. Thus, it was no surprise in response to the greatest benefit of joining BC TEAL, the above points were reiterated, appreciating the kindred spirit and professional identity that ensues.

Comments from survey participants on what BC TEAL provides for members:

“The greatest benefit is to stay connected to colleagues and see what other institutions are doing, and to contribute to the field through research and teaching expertise.”

“Networking and leadership opportunities”

“To be a member of a professional community”

Even in the best of organizations there is room for improvement, and this information comes from the participants:

 In selecting “all that apply” (and referring only to the highest percentages), 41% wanted more membership benefits, 33% wanted more engagement with the EAL sector, and 28% desired more communication between TEAL and its members. There were many specific suggestions for improvement, which the board will consider.

Comments from survey participants on BC TEAL areas of improvement:

“I’d love to have more updates / info provided by the BC TEAL board and the members.”

“More in person networking events”

“Additional networking and professional development and training opportunities.”

Thank you to all who participated in this survey. Your opinion, interaction, and commitment mean much to the survey committee and board.

Authors’ Bio

Karen has been a member of BC TEAL for over a decade. It is her love of professional development that propelled her teaching from the first steps of tutoring and homeschooling to attaining her undergrad and graduate degrees (MATESOL). After several years of retirement from her EAP position and membership expiration from BC TEAL, she renewed her membership, realizing the value of being part of the community, continuing to learn and give.

Jennifer Cummins is a passionate, creative, and committed instructor in the field of English as an Additional Language. Over the past 15 years, she has worked in a variety of settings, including international education, non-profit work, and post-secondary. She has shown leadership at both provincial and national scales by presenting at conferences, leading professional development opportunities for other educators, and consulting on policy decisions for the provincial and federal governments. Jennifer maintains active involvement in both private and public sectors of EAL education. She continues to look for new opportunities to develop as a leader in the educational field.

Advertisement

#CdnELTchat & #teslONchat Summary: Truth and Reconciliation in #ELT

Standard

#CdnELTchat & #teslONchat summary for June 15 

By Bonnie Nicholas, Jennifer Chow, Vanessa Nino, and Augusta Avram

Like all Canadians, we were horrified by the confirmation of the graves of 215 children at the site of a former residential school in Kamloops in May. Many of us did not learn about the tragic history of residential schools during our own school years. This part of Canadian history was not part of the curriculum.

Since the release of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission report in 2015 and its 94 Calls to Action, all of us working in ELT and particularly those of us who work in settlement programs know that we have the responsibility not just to educate ourselves but also to help the students that we are privileged to teach to learn about the history of treaties and residential schools. This is articulated clearly in Articles 93 and 94 of the Calls to Action. The confirmation of the graves in Kamloops and the almost certainty of more discoveries ahead has given urgency to this responsibility. 

On June 15th, #CdnELTchat and #teslONchat held a joint Twitter chat for English language teachers and admin. Our topic was Truth and Reconciliation in #ELT. This special joint chat was to find ways that we can move forward with the Calls to Action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and work for reconciliation. Because we are all mourning the little ones who lost their lives in Kamloops and elsewhere, and because most of us in ELT are settlers on this land, we started our chat with a reflective thread. We’ve included a slightly revised version of this thread here.

Before we begin, let’s take a moment of silence to remember the 215 children in Kamloops, the 104 children in Brandon, and the many others who were taken to school and never came home. We are greatly saddened by this confirmation and we mourn their deaths. Many of us live on Treaty territories; others live on unceded lands; all of us live on traditional territories of the many First Nations, Métis, and Inuit people who lived here on Turtle Island in harmony with the land before the arrival of settlers. We also invite you to join us in taking a moment to reflect on the land, the place where you live, work, and play. If you have a personal land acknowledgement and if you are comfortable sharing it, we invite you to do so. 

As ELT professionals, we (the #CdnELTchat and #teslONchat teams) recognise our responsibility to work towards reconciliation in our personal and our professional lives. The Calls To Action are everyone’s responsibility. Those of us working in settlement language programs have an additional responsibility to teach newcomers to Canada information about the Treaties and the history of residential schools, as outlined in Call to Action 93 of the #TRC. Karen Joseph, CEO of @ReconciliationCanada has said,  “This is not a time for shame. It’s a time for action. Keep showing up. We have the responsibility. Everyone has a voice. Being an ally means that it’s Indigenous People’s fight, but this fight belongs to everyone who lives in Canada.” 

We accept this responsibility and we recognise the privilege of our position in #ELT. We are grateful for the land that we live, work, & play on. We know that we still have much to learn about what truth & reconciliation mean for us in our daily lives. We know that we need to do this work ourselves and that we cannot ask Indigenous educators to bear yet another burden. We need to be not just allies, but co-conspirators. 

During this chat, we asked participants to share & amplify Indigenous voices, through links to social media, the arts (including videos, books, & music), websites, and other resources. These have all been added to our Padlet, https://padlet.com/CdnELTchat/TruthandReconciliationinCdnELT.  

We know that we must be mindful of our privilege as we do this necessary work. We are grateful to have had guidance & wise counsel from Sharon Jarvis (@romans1v17). Any mistakes we make will be our own, but we know that inaction is not a choice. 

During the hour-long chat, we posed a series of questions for discussion and further reflection.

Q1: What does reconciliation mean to you as an educator? How do you see your role in the process of truth and reconciliation? 

Q2: How “comfortable” or “ready” do you feel to embed the Calls to Action into your teaching? What do you need in order to be more prepared to do this? 

Q3: Can you share & amplify Indigenous voices, through links to social media, the arts (including videos, books, & music), websites, and other resources?

Q4: Take a moment to think about the 94 Calls to Action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Which one resonates with you?  

Q5: Many of the Calls to Action are for governments and the legal system but also for everyone in Canada. The final two Calls to Action were written specifically for newcomers to Canada, so these are the two that impact our approach to indigenisation and classroom teaching. Neither Discover Canada nor the citizenship oath have changed. It’s our responsibility to honour the spirit of the calls to action as best we can with the tools and resources that we have. How can we honour these in our teaching?  

Q6: Call to Action #57: “We call upon federal, provincial, territorial, and municipal governments to provide education to public servants on the history of Aboriginal peoples, including the history and legacy of residential schools, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Treaties and Aboriginal rights, Indigenous law, and Aboriginal–Crown relations.” This will require skill based training in intercultural competency, conflict resolution, human rights, and anti-racism. What can we do within our organizations to advocate for mandated training in truth and reconciliation? 

And perhaps the most important question of all: We invite you to join us in reflecting on what actions we can and will take in our personal and professional lives to honour the Calls To Action of the TRC and work for truth and reconciliation.

We’ve collected the relevant tweets from the chat using Wakelet, Truth and Reconciliation in ELT. You can also search for the relevant tweets on Twitter using the hashtags #CdnELTchat and #teslONchat.

Jennifer Chow, @JenniferMChow, Augusta Avram, @ELTAugusta, and Bonnie Nicholas, @BonnieJNicholas on the #CdnELTchat team hosted the chat along with Vanessa Nino, @Vnino23, from #teslONchat. Thank-you to everyone who participated. We are especially grateful to the Indigenous educators and knowledge keepers that we have learned from and will continue to learn from. We encourage everyone working in #CdnELT to continue to listen & learn from Indigenous people. 

Thank you to all those who contributed resources to the Padlet, which we hope will continue to be a useful resource: June 15 #CdnELTchat & #teslONchat 

Even if you’ve missed the synchronous part of this #CdnELTchat and #teslONchat, it’s never too late to join the conversation. Please tweet your comments, replies, & resources at any time. This was the last #CdnELTchat before we take a break for the summer. We will revisit this important topic of truth & reconciliation again. 

 

zAB6NaOy_400x400Bonnie Nicholas (@BonnieJNicholas) is an enthusiastic participant in the bi-monthly #CdnELTchat as well as a member of the #CdnELTchat team along with Svetlana Lupasco (@StanzaSL), Jennifer Chow (@jennifermchow), and Augusta Avram (@ELTAugusta). Bonnie teaches LINC at NorQuest College in Edmonton.

 

#CdnELTchat summary for June 1, 2021 (Self-Directed Professional Development with Anna Bartosik)

Standard

#CdnELTchat summary for June 1, 2021
Self-Directed Professional Development with Anna Bartosik

I’ve been using Twitter for self-directed professional development (SDPD) for about 8 years now. I started out just following educators and lurking on Twitter chats; that led to the discovery of blogs, journals and teaching resources. At first, I didn’t know if what I was doing on Twitter counted as PD, but over time, I realized that the learning I was doing on Twitter allowed me to be more responsive to the challenges I faced in my own teaching practice than organized PD did. 

#CdnELTchat was happy to have Anna Bartosik (@ambartosik) share her expertise on Self-Directed Professional Development (SDPD) on June 1. Anna is an English language teacher at George Brown College, instructional designer, and PhD Candidate at OISE. Her research is in self-directed professional development in digital networks. Learn more by reading her blog: https://annabartosik.wordpress.com/

Before we started our discussion, we had a moment of silence to mourn and remember the #215children in Kamloops. #CdnELTchat is also taking the time to reflect and plan a future chat with #teslONchat later this month to talk about what we need to do in order to move forward with the 94 Calls To Action from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and work for #Reconciliation.

Here are the questions that guided our chat: 

Q1: How do you define self-directed PD?

Q2: What do you do for PD? How would you describe your own PD? #CdnELTchat 

Q3: Why do you do self-directed PD? Is there something missing from organized PD that you get out of self-directed PD? 

Q4: What have you done for self-directed PD over the past year of #COVIDteaching? Are you planning to continue with self-directed PD, post-COVID?

Q5: What about some of the newer platforms like Instagram and TikTok? Do you have recommendations on who to follow or suggestions on how to use these (or other) platforms? 

Q6: What kind of barriers might educators face from administrators when they engage in self-directed PD? What strategies can we use to mitigate these barriers? 

You can read the collection of tweets from our chat using Wakelet. Thank-you to Anna Bartosik and the enthusiastic participants who generously shared their thoughts during and after the chat. 

Here are some highlights from the discussion:  

We hope #CdnELTchat can provide the space for #ELT educators across Canada and beyond to continue to reflect on what we’re learning, what we’re finding challenging and what solutions we’ve tried, especially during this time. Use the hashtag #CdnELTchat anytime to connect and to share information of interest to the #CdnELT community. 

#CdnELTchat is a collaborative effort that we hope will lead to more reflective practice for all of us involved in ELT. If you are interested in joining our team, or have any ideas for topics, please send @StanzaSL, @EALStories, @Jennifermchow, or @ELTAugusta a tweet. Our Padlet is also always open for your questions and comments.

Jen Bio Pic

Jennifer is passionate about learning how technology can empower her students. After experiencing how technology enabled her to stay connected as an educator, a parent and an active citizen, she is motivated to find the same opportunities for her students. Twitter: @jennifermchow

 

#CdnELTchat Summary: Decentring Whiteness in ELT with JPB Gerald

Standard

#CdnELTchat summary for May 11, 2021 with Guest moderator JPB Gerald

By Tanya Cowie, Jennifer Chow and Bonnie Nicholas

On May 11, the #CdnELTchat team along with #teslONchat welcomed JPB Gerald (@JPBGerald) as our special guest moderator for a live chat on the topic of Decentring Whiteness in #ELT. JPB Gerald is a doctoral candidate in Instructional Leadership. His scholarship focuses on language teaching, racism, and whiteness. Learn more at jpbgerald.com or by listening to the podcast, UnstandardizedE. We can also recommend his article in the BC Teal Journal, Worth the Risk: Decentring Whiteness in English Language Teaching, as well as his most recent co-authored piece (with @ScottStillar and @Vijay_Ramjattan) in Language Magazine, After Whiteness

Jennifer Chow (@jennifermchow) and Tanya Cowie (@tanyacowiecowie) co-moderated the chat on this challenging and important topic. 

We’ve collected the relevant tweets in a new #CdnELTchat Collection, Decentring Whiteness. You can also follow the conversation (although in reverse chronological order) on Twitter by searching for the hashtag #CdnELTchat. Thanks to everyone who shared their ideas either synchronously or asynchronously post-chat as we explored what decentring whiteness might mean for all of us working in ELT. These are the questions that guided our discussion, along with some of the responses that were shared. 

Q1: What should we do when colleagues push back against confronting issues of #racism in language teaching?

  • Gerald suggests we start by asking questions about their resistance; build and strategize with colleagues; be willing to take risks in solidarity with others.
  • Ideas from participants: keep going; exemplify; keep learning and educating ourselves; keep the conversations open; talk to ally leaders;talk about why this is important; be aware of the space we occupy; make anti-racist work impossible to ignore.

Q2: What needs to be done in teacher education to prevent future educators from reinforcing #whiteness in #ELT? 

  • Gerald suggests looking for new voices and scholars in ELT, and challenging the assumptions that there is one standardized English. 
  • Ideas from participants: White teacher-educators need to acknowledge whiteness and what it means in ELT; hire more diverse teacher-educators; get rid of training materials that reinforce the white-dominant and white-default narrative; normalize examination of power structures in teacher education; revise the curriculum to include critical anti-racist approaches; go beyond the minimum requirements for certification; de-colonize the curriculum from within; educate ourselves by diversifying what we read and who we follow on social media; question everything; intercultural and anti-racism training.

Q3: What is the role of #ELT professional associations in decentering whiteness in this industry? 

  • Gerald says to start by diversifying conferences and publications (including social media); use “white” and “racism” where needed; bring in PD from racialized members.
  • Ideas from participants: have more racialized folks on boards (and examine why Black folds are not already there), have racialized folks speaking at every conference; ensure that our associations represent all sectors; recognize self-directed PD (including informal PD like #CdnELTchat).

Q4: Should (white) #ELT teachers try to convince their students that native-speaker Englishes are not a good goal to aim for? If yes, how can we facilitate that without marginalizing students’ perspectives?  

  • Gerald suggests framing their language as perfectly valid, deemphasizing required testing practices, and (long-term) eliminating the native speaker construct.
  • Ideas from participants: teach students that communication is the goal; show that we value who they are; include a variety of authentic voices in our classroom materials; eliminate discussion of native-speakerism from our classrooms; share statistics that show language diversity among Canadians.

Q5: How can racialized educators who work with mainly white colleagues and supervisors advocate for change in their organization and ELT? 

  • Gerald suggests finding people around the world who will support you, and then find white people who will actively support you by taking risks. 
  • Ideas from participants: Have a support group that can listen and heal together; white colleagues need to not take up the space for racialized colleagues; not expect those same racialized colleagues to do all the heavy lifting; organizational commitment to anti-racism work is essential.

Q6: Teaching ‘academic language’ is central to ELT, but some scholars have argued that the idea of academic language is racist. What are your thoughts about the role of academic language in ELT? 

  • Gerald suggests that yes, its role is to “pathologize the racialized and their language practices”.
  • Ideas from participants: ask whose language? and whose rules?; question the staticicity of academic language; redefine what academic language means today; introduce critical applied linguistics and critical EAP approaches in the curriculum.  

This was a challenging topic, and one that we need to reflect on and then revisit, more than once. #CdnELTchat is a collaborative effort that we hope will lead to connections, learning, and a more reflective practice for all of us involved in #ELT. Questions are collected in advance of each chat on Padlet, and then 5 or 6 are chosen for the hour-long chat. Our Padlet, Questions and Topics for #CdnELTchat, is always open for comments. If you have any ideas for topics or have comments about #CdnELTchat, please send @StanzaSL, @BonnieJNicholas, @Jennifermchow, or @ELTAugusta a tweet. Please connect with the team if you are are interested in guest moderating a future #CdnELTchat. 

And in these challenging times, remember to practice self-care. Feel free to reach out and check in anytime with your colleagues in #CdnELTchat.

zAB6NaOy_400x400Bonnie Nicholas (@BonnieJNicholas) is an enthusiastic participant in the bi-monthly #CdnELTchat as well as a member of the #CdnELTchat team along with Svetlana Lupasco (@StanzaSL), Jennifer Chow (@jennifermchow), and Augusta Avram (@ELTAugusta). Bonnie teaches LINC at NorQuest College in Edmonton.

 

#CdnELTchat Summary: Building Community in Online Classes

Standard

#CdnELTchat summary for April 27, 2021
By Bonnie Nicholas

As we continue with online  teaching and learning, I think all of us have discovered the importance of building community in the online spaces that we spend so much time in. I suspect that we have all also discovered that it’s more challenging to build a community in an online environment than in a face-to-face class. #CdnELTchat hosted a Twitter chat to talk about this ongoing challenge.

During the one-hour conversation, we discussed the following questions. We hope that the questions and tweets will provide material for reflection, even for those who didn’t participate in the live chat or the asynchronous post-chat tweets. Our hope is always that #CdnELTchat will lead to more reflective practice for all of us. This is why we collect the tweets and share the summaries afterwards.

Q1: What does community-building mean?

Q2: What should we be mindful of when we design community-building activities for synchronous classes?

Q3: What considerations are important when we design community-building activities for asynchronous classes? 

Q4: What F2F community-building activities have you adapted for an online environment? Have they worked well in the online space?

Q5: How is building community online different (or the same) from the physical classroom? 

And a question for further reflection, that we didn’t have time to discuss: What advice might you give to your pre-pandemic self about building community? 

We talked about the importance of building trust, knowing our students, humanising our classes, and creating safe spaces for everyone. Here are some suggested readings and resources from the chat: 

This is the seventh year for #CdnELTchat. During that time, we’ve hosted almost 100 chats on a wide range of topics in ELT, as well as a number of informal check-ins since the start of the pandemic. We are always open to having guest moderators join a chat and share your passion for a particular topic in ELT. Fill in this Google Form, post on our Padlet, or contact us through Twitter: Jen Chow (@Jennifermchow), Augusta Avram (@ELTAugusta), Svetlana Lupasco (@StanzaSL), or Bonnie Nicholas (@BonnieJNicholas). 

Use the hashtag #CdnELTchat anytime to connect and to share information of interest to the #CdnELT community. The best thing about using social media like Twitter for self-directed PD is that you can choose to actively participate or just lurk. Both are equally valid choices.

#CdnELTchats chats are held about every second week, usually on a Tuesday evening. Please let us know if you have an idea for a topic, a suggestion for a guest moderator, or if you’re interested in moderating a chat on a topic in ELT that you’re passionate about. Reach out to a member of the #CdnELTchat team: Jennifer Chow (@Jennifermchow), Augusta Avram (@ELTAugusta), Svetlana Lupasco (@StanzaSL), or Bonnie Nicholas (@BonnieJNicholas). We hope that growing your #PLN and connecting through social media will lead to more reflective practice for all of us. 

Please join us for our next chat on May 11 with special guest moderator, @JPBGerald, to discuss Decentring Whiteness in #ELT. For links to his podcast, @UnstandardizedE and more of his scholarship on Whiteness, Racism & Language teaching, got to https://jpbgerald.com/. Please add your questions to our padlet.  

zAB6NaOy_400x400Bonnie Nicholas (@BonnieJNicholas) is an enthusiastic participant in the bi-monthly #CdnELTchat as well as a member of the #CdnELTchat team along with Svetlana Lupasco (@StanzaSL), Jennifer Chow (@jennifermchow), and Augusta Avram (@ELTAugusta). Bonnie teaches LINC at NorQuest College in Edmonton.

 

#CdnELTchat summary for March 30, 2021 (Teaching and Learning Vocabulary in #ELT)

Standard

#CdnELTchat summary for March 30, 2021
Teaching and Learning Vocabulary in #ELT
Jennifer Chow

#CdnELTchat brings together #ELT enthusiasts to discuss topics of interest twice a month on Tuesday evenings at 6 PT / 9 ET. On March 30, we had a chat about “Teaching and Learning Vocabulary.” 

Vocabulary development is one of the most important components of language learning. Knowledge of vocabulary enables us to understand and communicate with others. What are some effective approaches and strategies that help learners with vocabulary acquisition? 

To guide the discussion, we posed questions that #CdnELTchat community members contributed on our Padlet, https://padlet.com/BonnieJean/CdnELTchat:

Q1: How do you address vocabulary development in your classes? What vocabulary teaching strategies do you use? #CdnELTchat 

Q2: What is the role of lists in teaching and learning vocabulary? How do you decide which words from the unit or activity you are teaching to include? Is there a tool you use? #CdnELTchat

Q3: What strategies can students use to turn passive vocabulary into active vocabulary? Do you have any favourite activities you use with your students? #CdnELTchat 

Q4: How can we support independent vocabulary learning strategies?  #CdnELTchat 

We’ve collected the tweets from our March 30th chat in Wakelet, but here are some of the highlights from our discussion:

  • Use a vocabulary notebook, index cards or Quizlet to encourage autonomy
  • Get students to notice and use collocations, lexical chunks, and patterns 
  • Provide repetition and rich input in context to increase vocabulary retention
  • Use word lists, like the General Service List (GSL) and the Academic Word List (AWL), as a tool to help students prioritize and focus on words and expressions that have high currency
  • Provide opportunities to personalize vocabulary to increase retention by creating an emotional connection

Thank-you to our participants for sharing so many useful resources and tools that support vocabulary development. These have been collected in a Google Doc, Resources for Vocabulary Development in ELT

We hope #CdnELTchat can provide the space for #ELT educators across Canada and beyond to continue to reflect on what we’re learning, what we’re finding challenging and what solutions we’ve tried, especially during this time. Use the hashtag #CdnELTchat anytime to connect and to share information of interest to the #CdnELT community. 

#CdnELTchat is a collaborative effort that we hope will lead to more reflective practice for all of us involved in ELT. If you are interested in joining our team, or have any ideas for topics, please send @StanzaSL, @EALStories, @Jennifermchow, or @ELTAugusta a tweet. Our Padlet is also always open for your questions and comments.

Jen Bio Pic

Jennifer is passionate about learning how technology can empower her students. After experiencing how technology enabled her to stay connected as an educator, a parent and an active citizen, she is motivated to find the same opportunities for her students. Twitter: @jennifermchow

 

#CdnELTchat Summary: Reflecting on One Year of Pandemic Teaching & Learning

Standard

#CdnELTchat summary for March 16, 2021
By Bonnie Nicholas

A little over a year ago, on March 11, 2020, our lives were upended when the WHO declared COVID-19 a global pandemic. Most schools and learning institutions in Canada closed to in-person learning soon afterwards, and many of us found ourselves teaching online classes for the first time. As we left our workplaces, I suspect few of us thought that we would still be in the midst of the pandemic a year later.

#CdnELTchat has continued throughout the pandemic, though not just as usual. During the first weeks of the pandemic, we held chats on emergency remote teaching, as well as weekly check-ins for people to drop by and stay connected. As living in the pandemic and teaching online became our new normal, we returned to chatting on a variety of topics. Now, as we enter the second year of pandemic teaching, we took some time to reflect on what this past year has meant to us and and think about the direction of ELT in the future. 

We used Wakelet to collect and archive the evening’s chats, Reflecting on one year of pandemic teaching and learning. You can also find the tweets by searching for the hashtag #CdnELTchat on Twitter. As always, we collected questions in advance of the chat on our Padlet and Jennifer Chow tweeted them regularly throughout the hour of our chat. Jennifer Chow posted questions and those participating in the live chat tweeted their replies. 

Q1: Do you recall when the WHO first declared that COVID-19 was a global pandemic?  Do you remember what your initial reaction was when you first heard that you would be pivoting to online teaching? 

Q2: What is one experience that has impacted you the most during this past year? Q3: How has this year changed your teacher identity and/or teaching practice? How has the pandemic changed the student experience?

Q4: What have you been doing to maintain your learners’ and your own wellness? 

Q5: How do you feel about returning to the classroom in September? What are you worried about? What are you looking forward to? How do your students feel about possibly returning to the classroom in September? 

We remembered how fast we all had to shift to a new way of teaching. Some people are finding that they enjoy online teaching, while others are waiting for a return to a F2F or blended option. All of us have felt some physical and mental strain from the long hours being “on” and on our devices. We discussed the compassion we feel for our students who were forced into a new way of learning, fraught with uncertainty. Most of us felt the stresses of that uncertainty and fear in our own lives as the pandemic continued unabated, while at the same time we felt gratitude to the support offered by our employers and workplaces. Being offered empathy has meant that we are better able to meet our students with that same compassion. While the online environment has opened up spaces for students (especially those who have young children and no childcare), the shift to online has also highlighted issues of equity and access. These are important issues that cannot be forgotten. Working from home has also blurred the boundaries between the workplace and our home lives. Self-care will also be an ongoing issue.

We didn’t get to our final question, but this needs to be addressed, both at a local and a global level. It also invited a larger discussion, what will be the future of #ELT? 

Q6: What guidelines should be in place as we start thinking about returning to the classroom in September? 

#CdnELTchats chats are held about every second week, usually on a Tuesday evening. Please let us know if you have an idea for a topic, a suggestion for a guest moderator, or if you’re interested in moderating a chat on a topic in ELT that you’re passionate about. Reach out to a member of the #CdnELTchat team: Jennifer Chow (@Jennifermchow), Augusta Avram (@ELTAugusta), Svetlana Lupasco (@StanzaSL), or Bonnie Nicholas (@BonnieJNicholas). We hope that growing your #PLN and connecting through social media will lead to more reflective practice for all of us. 

zAB6NaOy_400x400Bonnie Nicholas (@BonnieJNicholas) is an enthusiastic participant in the bi-monthly #CdnELTchat as well as a member of the #CdnELTchat team along with Svetlana Lupasco (@StanzaSL), Jennifer Chow (@jennifermchow), and Augusta Avram (@ELTAugusta). Bonnie teaches LINC at NorQuest College in Edmonton.

 

#CdnELTchat & #teslONchat Summary: Designing Inclusive Pedagogies

Standard

#CdnELTchat summary for February 25, 2021
By Bonnie Nicholas

#CdnELTchat and #teslONchat hosted a joint chat on February 25 on the topic of designing inclusive pedagogy. The impetus for this chat was a webinar offered by Jesse Stommel (@jessifer) earlier that day. The event host, the Institute for Humanities Research at Arizona State University (@ihr_asu) welcomed a global audience to the session, and they have also generously shared a recording of the livestream, Designing for Care and Embracing Ungrading. Dr. Stommel has also generously shared his slides. If you missed the opportunity to hear Dr. Stommel live, the #CdnELTchat and #teslONchat teams highly recommend taking the time to listen to the recording. Dr. Stommel offers a clear and practical vision of how we might create inclusive pedagogies in our teaching, as well as some recommended readings. There is much to reflect on in his words and ideas. 

During our post-webinar chat, we discussed these questions:

Q1: What does it mean to have an inclusive pedagogy? What would an inclusive pedagogy look like in your teaching and learning context? 
Q2: Teaching with compassion and designing for care are more important than ever as the disruption caused by the pandemic continues. What does this mean in practice in our classrooms? How can we humanize online teaching and learning? 
Q3: Many of us work in publicly-funded programs. How can we as teachers work within the strictures of our programs to build more inclusive classrooms? 
Q4: How is inclusive pedagogy related to culturally responsive teaching? What could this  look like in #ELT? 
Q5:  How can we advocate for change and for a more inclusive pedagogy for the students we are privileged to teach? 
Q6: What is one thing you will take away from @Jessifer’s webinar and tonight’s chat? 

We’ve collected the tweets from the chat in this Wakelet; you can also read them on Twitter by following the hashtags #CdnELTchat and #teslONchat. Inspired by Dr. Stommel, chat participants shared ideas for building a pedagogy of care, beginning with trusting students. 

  • Welcome learners, starting with the correct pronunciation of their names and their pronouns.
  • Treat learners as individuals, and get to know them.
  • Advocate for and with students.
  • Reflect on our own biases.
  • Model inclusivity in our classrooms; we need to be the change we wish to see.
  • Be mindful about representation in our materials. 
  • Be flexible with deadlines.
  • Apply UDL principles in design; give options wherever possible; attend to accessibility.
  • Continue to connect, reflect, stretch, and learn.   

#CdnELTchat is held about every two weeks; #teslONchat is held monthly. We occasionally get together for a combined chat. Everyone is welcome to participate during the live chat or contribute to the conversation asynchronously.  We hope #CdnELTchat can provide the space for #ELT educators across Canada and beyond to continue to reflect on what we’re learning, what we’re finding challenging and what solutions we’ve tried, especially during this time. 

If you are interested in joining the #CdnELTchat team, or have any ideas for topics, please send Jennifer (@Jennifermchow), Augusta (@ELTAugusta), Bonnie (@BonnieJNicholas), or Svetlana (@StanzaSL) a tweet. We are always interested in bringing in guest moderators! Our Padlet is also always open for your questions and comments. Contact Vanessa (@vnini23) for queries about #teslONchat.

zAB6NaOy_400x400Bonnie Nicholas (@BonnieJNicholas) is an enthusiastic participant in the bi-monthly #CdnELTchat as well as a member of the #CdnELTchat team along with Svetlana Lupasco (@StanzaSL), Jennifer Chow (@jennifermchow), and Augusta Avram (@ELTAugusta). Bonnie teaches LINC at NorQuest College in Edmonton.

 

#CdnELTchat summary for February 9, 2021 (What should we keep doing in #ELT? )

Standard

#CdnELTchat summary for February 9, 2021
Jennifer Chow

It’s been almost a year since many ELT educators have had to make a sudden shift to online teaching. Students and teachers have had a range of feelings and experiences from being overwhelmed and exhausted to finding resilience and compassion. For the past year, we’ve experienced challenges, changes and opportunities. We’ve learned to use new ideas, perspectives, methods and technologies. As we move forward, we should consider how we want to harness the positive changes. What changes have me made that we should continue to do and build on post-pandemic?  

Thank-you to the educators who shared their thoughts about the things we should keep doing in #ELT post pandemic. Here are the questions that guided the #CdnELTchat we had on February 9:

Q1: Are there tools and approaches that you used to use in the F2F classroom that have been successful in the online environment?
Q2: Are there new tools or approaches that you have tried during the shift to online that you will definitely continue going forward? 
Q3: What new knowledge have you gained that you will carry forward in your practice? What would you say is the most important part of teaching and learning in online spaces? 
Q4: What has been your most profound learning during the shift to online? 
Q5: What have you learned about doing assessments online that you want to continue to do post-pandemic?  

We’ve collected the tweets from our chat in Wakelet, but here are some of the highlights from our discussion

  • Students have been able to practice digital skills through blended teaching/learning, and that will be more important as the nature of workplaces change. Students will want to continue studying and collaborating online post-pandemic.
  • Integrating #UDL guidelines by giving students the choice of text, audio, or video responses should continue.
  • Using instructional design by laying out outcomes, inputs, learning activities and assessment for each chunk of course strengthens f2f classes as well.
  • Spending more time establishing relationships and building rapport are important in any environment.
  • Attending to cognitive load for teachers and students by choose a few versatile tools that work for a range of purposes is something to keep in mind post-pandemic.
  • Continue to teach with compassion. Being fair doesn’t mean treating everyone the same. What’s fair is not having the same due dates, but that everyone has a due date that takes into account the differences in unchosen realities. 
  • Teaching/learning online has allowed us to create more flexibility in how we assess, when we assess and what to assess, which allows students to discover their strengths and weaknesses.
  • Covering everything in the curriculum doesn’t not mean rushing through everything to cover all the material. It’s more important to focus on learning outcomes. 
  • It’s important to build on the ideas that emphasize learning over assessing, trust over proctoring and effort over achievement.

We hope #CdnELTchat can provide the space for #ELT educators across Canada and beyond to continue to reflect on what we’re learning, what we’re finding challenging and what solutions we’ve tried, especially during this time. Use the hashtag #CdnELTchat anytime to connect and to share information of interest to the #CdnELT community. 

#CdnELTchat is a collaborative effort that we hope will lead to more reflective practice for all of us involved in ELT. If you are interested in joining our team, or have any ideas for topics, please send @StanzaSL, @EALStories, @Jennifermchow, or @ELTAugusta a tweet. Our Padlet is also always open for your questions and comments. 

Jen Bio Pic

Jennifer is passionate about learning how technology can empower her students. After experiencing how technology enabled her to stay connected as an educator, a parent and an active citizen, she is motivated to find the same opportunities for her students. Twitter: @jennifermchow

#CdnELTchat Summary for January 26, 2021 (What should we leave behind in #ELT?)

Standard

#CdnELTchat summary for January 26, 2021
By Bonnie Nicholas

What should we leave behind in #ELT?

Whether we were ready or not, since last spring COVID-19 has forced almost all of us to become online teachers. For many of us working in ELT, the move to online teaching was a giant leap out of our comfort zone. As the pandemic enters its second year and mostly-online teaching and learning continues, we have an opportunity to think critically about our practices and to reflect on what we should maybe leave behind. This was the theme for the January 26 #CdnELTchat; the follow-up chat is on what we should keep going forward.

These are the questions that guided our discussion: 

  • The pandemic has been called “the great pause”. As we pause many of our habitual activities what have you learned? What don’t you need as much as you perhaps once thought you did?
  • With many of us working from home, we may have abandoned our work spaces. What have you perhaps left at your workplace that you now realize you don’t need to be an effective teacher?
  • Are there any teaching practices that you have left behind? Were you surprised that these practices weren’t as effective as you thought and that you really didn’t need them?
  • Are there things that you would like to leave behind but can’t because of program or funding requirements? How can you reconcile this?
  • Are there attitudes towards learning that you will leave behind after the pandemic ends and we return to a new normal (whatever that looks like)? 

You can read the collected tweets from this chat on Wakelet or by searching Twitter using the hashtag #CdnELTchat. Here’s a list of suggestions that were offered during the chat for what we can think about leaving behind when the pandemic is over:

  • the need to control everything
  • all the paper we thought we needed – and all the photocopying!
  • working so many long hours
  • a physical classroom / a physical workplace
  • rushing to “finish” a course or “cover” the curriculum at the cost of learning
  • the worry that we are not teaching students enough tech skills for workplace success
  • Sunday 11:59 deadlines
  • widespread proctoring and the belief that students must be trying to cheat
  • forcing students to have cameras on
  • teaching without sensitivity or compassion for students’ lived experiences

Do you agree or disagree with this list? What would you add or take away? What is something you know you should leave behind but find difficult to let go? What habits do you need to change? 

Our hope is that connecting through a social medium like Twitter will lead to more reflective practice for all of us. We invite anyone to continue the conversation asynchronously by using the hashtag #CdnELTchat. We hold chats on a wide range of topics every couple of weeks, usually on Tuesday evenings. We’re always looking for people interested in sharing their passion for a particular topic in #ELT by co-moderating a chat or by joining the team. Reach out to Jennifer Chow (@jennifermchow), Augusta Avram (@ELTaugusta), Svetlana Lupasco (@StanzaSL), or Bonnie Nicholas (@bonniejnicholas).

zAB6NaOy_400x400Bonnie Nicholas (@BonnieJNicholas) is an enthusiastic participant in the bi-monthly #CdnELTchat as well as a member of the #CdnELTchat team along with Svetlana Lupasco (@StanzaSL), Jennifer Chow (@jennifermchow), and Augusta Avram (@ELTAugusta). Bonnie teaches LINC at NorQuest College in Edmonton.