Week Eight & Nine: Unit 2 Prep

Two weeks on the same thing? What’s that all about?

These two weeks have all focused on the Unit 2 projects. The first week, or final one before the Christmas break, was really just a chance to dip your feet into the projects and start to think about what you wanted to do. When we returned after Christmas, things stepped up a notch. We’ve been working on specifics of the projects, specifically looking at the independent research project (IRP) and the observation instrument (OI).

Aren’t there three projects?

Yep. There’s also a developmental record project (DRP). This is essentially a teaching journal: you investigate an area of your teaching you wish to improve, do some background reading, and then keep a developmental record of your work in this area over ten classes.

Very interesting. What are you focusing on?

For the DRP I want to look into teaching listening. I remember Paul Hillman at ELA used to say that teaching listening well is the holy grail of teaching. I don’t think I’d go that far, but I would say that it’s an area that we all need to get better at doing. Fact is, there’s lots of research and approaches for doing it better than the test-teach-test approach advocated by coursebooks, it just hasn’t really made its way into mainstream teaching yet. But that’s all on hold until I’m able to step back into the classroom.

So what about the OI and IRP?

For the OI I’m focusing on corrective feedback. I used to call this error correction, but after reading and reflecting on the fact that giving feedback on a student’s errors very rarely means they have corrected the error for the rest of time, I’m opting for this more lenient term. I’m in the process of designing an observation tool to see when teachers do it, what they do, and if anything happens with the mistake afterwards – called learner uptake.

For the IRP I’m going rogue. I want to look at attitudes to sustainability as a classroom topic (both explicit and embedded), but from the perspective of students. There’s a tonne of fascinating and valuable stuff going on in ELT re sustainability, but it’s all teachers and writers and trainers and never any students doing the talking.

What was your main takeaway from this week?

It almost feels like I’m back in the final year of my undergrad years. With some support and guidance on where to go and what to do, but with an awful lot of freedom. It’s exciting, truth be told, especially as I view the projects with the end in mind and what I can use the results for post-Dip.

Were there any lows?

A post-Christmas lull! Truth be told, Christmas wasn’t the most uplifting of seasons this year, but it was still great to have a chance to switch off and recharge my batteries. Except, when I came back they were still only half full. Hopefully The Hub can pick me up a bit.

What about highlights?

Getting back to it! Turning the corner into 2021, I am determined to feel hopeful about the changes and developments that this year will bring. Maybe as we turn the corner into 2022 I’ll have a Dip under my belt!

What’s next?

The first of two modules on Language, with Dan Barber (of uncanny ability fame) as tutor!