Skip to main content

The Future of Professional Learning in TESOL

Earlier this month, the TESOL International Association held a summit in Athens, Greece on the future of our profession. This summit was recorded and can be viewed here: http://www.tesol.org/summit-2017/themes/futurology-recorded-sessions

There were many takeaways from this summit, and I've been following reactions both internally, through the myTESOL online portal, and externally, through the Twitter hashtag #TESOLsummit. Below are some screenshots of tweets that got my attention.



These struck a chord in me because I believe CPD (collaborative professional development) is not the future of TESOL. It is the present! It's what I'm doing right now on this blog and what I have been doing by engaging TESOL teachers and researchers online.

However, online PD is not an option for many teachers, either because of accessibility or personal feelings towards social media and e-learning. On the flip side, accessibility and personal feelings towards massive international conferences keep many teachers away from the annual TESOL Convention. A viable alternative to online and traditional PD is the EdCamp, something that K-12 teachers have been doing for years with great success (Carpenter & Linton, 2016).

What is an EdCamp?

An EdCamp is a type of "unconference," which is participant-driven and inquiry-driven.  There are no plenary, keynote, or other types of speakers.  Every session is a discussion on a topic decided upon by the attendees, which in this case were IEP faculty and staff.  EdCamps were originally designed for and by K-12 educators in the United States. I wrote about this after we successfully held our first EdCamp last year at https://jesl1.blogspot.com/2016/02/developing-successful-edcamp-for.html.

What does the evidence say?

Research on EdCamps is quite new, but the leading researcher seems to be Jeff Carpenter at Elon University.

Last year, he co-wrote an article published in Teaching and Teacher Education regarding educators' perspectives on EdCamps at http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0742051X16300427. This was an exploratory survey-based study that showed high levels of enthusiasm, "a preference among educators for participant-driven, teacher-led PD," and "a strong sense of of responsibility for their own professional learning" (p.104). Because EdCamps are quite new, it's too early to determine any longitudinal benefits affecting teachers, schools, and their students. But is there any evidence traditional PD opportunities have any benefits? I will be following this line of research closely. Right now I have a lot of anecdotal evidence to support EdCamps.

IEP Camps

The timing of the 2017 TESOL Summit on Futurology and our 2nd annual Shawnee Hills IEP Camp was a coincidence. They were only a week apart from each other, but both have reaffirmed my dedication to participant-driven discussion-based professional development. Furthermore, I think IEP Camps would be more beneficial if researchers were invited to understand the day-to-day issues and concerns teachers face. IEP Camps are a treasure trove for opportunities to close the research-practice gap and to promote action research. We look forward to seeing more IEP teachers in our region attend next year.

I strongly support the growth of more IEP camps and other EdCamps associated with English language learning across the country and the world. I've been told that KOTESOL (Korea) will be experimenting with this model this year, and I hope they are successful. I am happy to provide free consultation to anyone who is interested in setting one up. And if my schedule and budget allows, I would even like to participate.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

What Is So Great About Extensive Reading?

I'm collaborating on a research and development project for integrating extensive reading into intensive English programs. After the initial review of the most recent literature, I was quite surprised at the overwhelming positive effects of extensive reading on reading proficiency, comprehension, and motivation. Although I'm still skeptical, I'd like to share the findings with you.

I looked at 17 articles published since 2012. Although this may not seem like much, 3 of these articles were meta-analyses, which investigated a much larger quantity of studies on extensive reading. Only one was not relevant to intensive English programs, bringing it down to 16 articles. Many of these articles came from the 2015 discussion forums in Reading in a Foreign Language. The majority of those discussion forum articles were not empirical studies, but they went in depth answering "What constitutes extensive reading?" After summarizing these answers, this blog post covers the res…

Are you an Open Educator?

Image from https://www.flickr.com/photos/gforsythe/18162314289 What is an Open Educator? According to a recently published article from the International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning (IRRODL):

An Open Educator chooses to use open approaches, when possible and appropriate, with the aim to remove all unnecessary barriers to learning. He/she works through an open online identity and relies on online social networking to enrich and implement his/her work, understanding that collaboration bears a responsibility towards the work of others.

Does this sound attractive for English language teachers? It seems to some who offer courses through or with YouTube. But what does it mean "to remove all unnecessary barriers to learning?" Working for free? Not necessarily. If you read the article, it seems you'd be working on a sliding scale depending on the socioeconomic status of the learners, but this sliding scale is a sliding slope. How can poor le…

The Tao of Praxis

Last week, I started reading The Tao of Pooh by Benjamin Hoff to my daughter as part of her bedtime regimen. I bought this book years ago after a colleague recommended it to me when he learned I was interested in Taoism. Since then I have embraced much of its philosophy, but I stop short of calling myself a Taoist. I didn't realize until now that Taoism has deeply affected my attitudes and beliefs towards English language teaching and scholarship, especially concerning the concept of praxis. Below are some examples.


The passage above comes from Chapter 3: Spelling Tuesday, page 26. It's not a subtle attack on academics, specifically those whose goals are to get published to be accepted among an elite circle of scholars. This is particularly striking to me because, at this point in my life, I would like to gain acceptance among this elite circle, which I perhaps naively equate to tenured professors. However, I strive to make my life's work beneficial to English language te…