- Make constant and effective changes.
- Learn and speak at least one other language.
- Teach less to maximize learning.
- Teach English in at least one subject area.
- Familiarise oneself with new learning and teaching modes.
- Ensure learning outside the classroom.
@theteacherjames took this point to mean CPD which, as he said, nobody should disagree with! Most participants agreed that good teachers always try to engage in reflective practice and make tweaks and changes as a result. Indeed, Adrian Underhill gave a talk on this very topic last year.
So, as @adi_rajan said, the real question is not whether change is good (that's a given), but why many teachers can't or won't commit to change. We all know teachers who teach the same thing in the same way year after year. @jo_sayers suggested that the word 'constant' would put some people off and that it would perhaps be better to replace it with 'regular'. @pjgallantry went further and asked whether we need to constantly reinvent the wheel, to which @theteacherjames responded by saying that he interpreted #1 as meaning a constant evolution as opposed to a constant revolution.
At the end of this part of the discussion, the vast majority of participants agreed that, whilst implementing ongoing and effective change might be challenging, it is preferable to doing nothing and becoming sedentary. We do, though, need pauses between changes - a time to reflect, look, listen and think.
Amongst the general flag-waving in favour of learning another language, @JonnyLewington sounded a note of caution, reminding us that everyone learns differently and that we shouldn't draw too many conclusions from our own learning experiences.
@jimscriv told us that his watchword here is Adrian Underhill's, 'The least that is enough'. It doesn't mean, 'Don't teach'. It could mean, 'Teach a lot'.
@AlexandraKouk pointed out that many teachers feel guilty if there is even a short stretch of silence in class - that they aren't 'doing' anything, but as @kevchanwow said, this is, in fact the best kind of teaching. Perhaps, students need to be taught to appreciate this kind of approach, though, as some of them demand more explicit instruction. This is clearly necessary at times, but the question is when, how and how much?
Perhaps the key skill is knowing when to 'teach', when to 'guide', when to 'question' and when to 'leave space'. (@Charlesrei1) As @pjgallantry said, 'we should focus on smart teaching, not lots of teaching - focussed, observation-based, learner-centred.'
- Engage students by giving them interesting ideas and links (via @MarjorieRosenbe)
- Set homework which requires students to research websites in English (via @jankenb2)
- Allow students to choose their own topics to research and projects to work on in their own time.
- Get students to record responses in English to tasks.
- Recommend podcasts for students to listen to.
- Do an inventive dictation exercise as in this example (via @hartle)
- In a multi-lingual environment, have a tandem programme whereby students are paired with a native speaker of a language different to their own and they have to spend time together speaking in English (via @MarjorieRosenbe)
- Set group project work (via @AlexandraKouk)
- Encourage students to continue classroom discussions via Facebook, for example.
- Use Edmodo as an extension of your real classroom.
- Apply flipped classroom principles (via jankenb2)
- Phone them late at night at home. Repeatedly. Talk at length in English. :-) (via @jimscriv)
The plan was to write this summary in collaboration with my friend and colleague, Lesley Cioccarelli (@cioccas). We both took part in the early chat and read the transcript for the late one, and intended to get together in a virtual way to write it up. However, time constraints for both of us (and the fact that I'm a bit of a control freak!!) meant that I'm solely responsible for what you have just read. I hope I have done justice to what was a stimulating and fast-moving couple of hours and I hope Lesley will agree to work with me on future collaborative projects!!