The Eaquals 30th Anniversary Conference
The Eaquals 30th anniversary celebrations started in 2020, the 30th year since the foundation of Eaquals but the Eaquals 30th Anniversary Conference had been postponed to this year because of the pandemic. The conference was finally held as a hybrid event in Belfast on October 22st and 22nd, 2021 and we, Deniz K.E., Pınar, Esra, Neslihan, David H., Burca and Jacqueline were able to attend online. You can find the write-ups of some of the sessions that we attended in the following two blog posts.
Opening Plenary Leading in Times of Volatility
Classroom Research & the Whole Teacher
Probing the Principles of EAP Course Design
Language Teachers and Subject Teachers
Exploring the Impact of the Pandemic
Taking Advantage of Your Students
Opening plenary: Leading in times of Volatility by Dr. Joanne Murphy
At the opening ceremony of the EAQUALS Annual Conference in Belfast, Dr Joanne Murphy examined the difficulties of management and leadership in conditions of uncertainty, risk and volatility. She started her speech by putting forward some sample models for leadership and examined them in detail in her speech. Here are the leadership models she talked about:
•The first leadership model that was introduced was the idea of EpicAlly MAD leadership by Rune Toden. Epic part of it represents the idea of leading with energy, purpose, identity, and courage. However, it is not only this, it also includes ‘Ally’ because leadership is something that we do not practice on our own, but we practice together. And Mad simply stands for making a difference.
•The second model for leadership is FRAMING which represents how you frame the world and leadership. It is incredibly important not only in terms of leadership, but also in terms of management. Framing changes over time. The presenter gave the example of Tupperware parties in the past while explaining this model. It was something considered as revolutionary in those days, but today plastic is regarded as something dangerous and damaging for our environment. So, our perception of plastic has been entirely re-framed and that is the power of framing. Leaders can be considered as pathfinders trying to find a way to the future. It is the idea of creating a vision which is so important and that’s why framing really matters in leadership. It includes how you see the world, how you view your leadership, how you see your the role within the organization. While she was explaining the framing model of leadership, she mentioned four basic frames and talked about their properties by giving interesting examples. The basic frames of leadership that she explained were structural frame, human resource frame, political frame and symbolic frame.
•Another leadership model the presenter introduced during her speech was VUCA which stands for Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity (Kinsinger& Walch, 2012) VUCA has come out of a military strategy in terms of management during the Iraq invasion. In this model, the key features are vision, understanding, clarity and agility.
VUCA as a model
•Volatility- speed, volume and magnitude of unpredictable change
•Uncertainty- lack of predictability. The past is not the future
•Complexity- layered or laminated
•Ambiguity- Lack of clarify around meaning, significance, implications
At the end of her speech, the presenter gave the following key tips to help leaders to lead in times of difficulty:
•Sense making (letting go of your existing models of the world)
•Discouraging risky behavior
•Building social network of leadership
•Resource availability (human and material)
•After a short coffee break, Dr Joanne Murphy also had a Q&A session and answered the questions from the audience and online participants on how to lead in difficult times.
Resilience: What it means for Organizations, Teams and Individuals by Dr Joanne Murphy, Queen’s Management School
This was a useful session, focusing on the importance of personal and organizational resilience, which have become even more significant in the last two years. Dr. Joanne Murphy defined resilience as the ability “to bounce back from an external shock”; the ability to come back from “something, which knocks us off our equilibrium”; the ability “to protect ourselves from environmental risks”; and the ability “to manage risk that allows the organization to cope with things that are happening outside it”.
Based on research with young people in primary and secondary schools, Dr. Murphy stated that resilient people are individuals who are autonomous, independent and have a positive social orientation. She highlighted the role of acting independently rather than reacting to the environment, controlling emotions and impulses, and framing challenges as opportunities as three protective factors in people’s ability to be resilient. Dr. Murphy discussed how we can build our resilience through:
•the decision to observe a situation rather than reacting to it,
•the internal story we tell ourselves (we need to be friends to ourselves), and
•scaffolding of support (building a team around us).
Dr. Murphy added that organizational resilience is “having the capacity to anticipate, prepare for, respond and adapt to incremental change and sudden disruptions in order to survive and prosper” and added that it is all about how we manage risks. She also referred to the research by Denyer* (2017), who stressed the importance of foresight, insight, oversight and hindsight in resilience.
Among other issues raised were the idea that we cannot continue to expect people to be more and more resilient as we also need to look at ‘the system’; the vulnerability of organizations; and the idea that while we try and protect our children and fix things for them, we are not helping them build resilience.
* Denyer, D. (2017) Organizational Resilience: A summary of academic evidence, business insights and new thinking. BSI and Cranfield School of Management
Classroom Research and the Whole Teacher by Alan Pulverness
The Eaquals 30th Anniversary Conference took place between 21-23 October, 2021. The event was run as a hybrid event. I had the chance to attend the conference online, and watched several presentations. I would like to summarise a session by Alan Pulverness on classroom research, as it is an area that in the SL we give a lot of importance to.
In his talk Alan Pulverness focused on classroom research and how it is connected with concepts of humanism and the centrality of the learner. He described the teacher’s role as ‘an evolving participant in the learning and teaching process’. Classroom research enables the teachers to adapt and improve techniques, teaching practices and the learning environment as a whole. Pulverness believes that classroom research is a humanistic way of teacher development, which is very similar to the way that we view teacher development in the School of Languages.
Humanistic approaches to teaching and learning involve the following elements and principles:
●Respect for the learner
●Learners as individuals
●Education as a process of realising individual potential
Alan Pulverness touched on the concepts ‘Transmission Teaching’, where the learner is a recipient of knowledge, and how in the current era of ‘interpretation teaching’, the attitude to the learner and the learning has changed and shifted to a view in which knowledge is seen as a process and perceiving learners with a capacity to extend their existing knowledge. These also relate to the distinction between the terms ‘Banking Education’, where the teacher 'deposits knowledge’, and ‘Dialogic Education’, where the relationship becomes much more democratised. In accordance with this shift in the perception of teaching and learning, our understanding of teacher development has also shifted.
Teacher Training vs Teacher Education
Alan Pulverness referred to the work of Carse (1987), who made a distinction between training and education:
For ‘teacher development’, Pulverness shared the following definition by Glatthorn (1995):
...the professional growth a teacher achieves as a result of gaining increased experience and examining his/her experience systematically.
Pulverness described teaching as a process of decision-making. In any given lesson, there are many moments of decision-making that draw on the teacher’s experience, technical competence and the teacher’s ability to read the room and react to what is happening in the classroom at any given point.
Classroom research as teacher development
Pulverness shared some frameworks that have been described in literature. He started with the classical framework for the process of action research, although he also said he does not believe that the framework necessarily has to be strictly adhered to:
1.Identifying a general or initial idea: identifying an area that the teacher is concerned about, aware of or interested in – this does not necessarily have to be a problem in a negative sense.
2.Reconnaissance or fact finding
4.Take the first action step
7.Take second action step, repeat cycle as needed.
Pulverness asserted that the framework is an iterative process that can go on for cycle after cycle.
An interesting concept that Alan Pulverness referred to was practice versus praxis. He claimed that for action research, there must be praxis rather than practice. He explained that praxis is informed, committed action rather than just successful action. In this sense, action research is not just a pragmatic solution to an immediate problem. It is more considered, more theorised, and more dedicated to a continuing process of development. Action research is also informed because other people’s views are taken into account. Another important characteristic of action research is that it is committed and intentional because it is argued in terms of values. It leads to knowledge from, and consequently, about educational practice. It is theory that emerges from practice rather than being imposed upon practice.
Pulverness shared some other frameworks (E.g. Easen, 1985; McKernan, 1991; Kemmis & McTarggart, 1988) by some other educators, all of which emphasise the characteristics mentioned above and the process of action research consisting of a ‘spiral of such circles’.
There are three necessary conditions for an effective process of classroom research:
-Viability: It should be doable. Don’t tackle issues you can’t do anything about. It should be something that is susceptible to change – not beyond the capability of the teacher to change.
-Discreteness: It should be something small-scale and relatively limited. It should be susceptible to investigation.
-Intrinsic interest: It should be something that the teacher and/or the students are interested in or have to be involved in. It could be on an area of great relevance and importance to you or your learners.
For data collection, Pulverness listed the tools that the teachers might like to exploit: field notes, audio recordings, learner diaries, questionnaires, teacher diaries, video recording, interviews, sociometry, photographs, documentary evidence, case studies and observations. He also highlighted the importance of triangulation of data.
Pulverness emphasised that classroom research is what good teachers do instinctively. It was great to watch an expert talk about teacher development and classroom research as two things that go hand in hand and that complement each other.
Probing the Principle of EAP Course Design by Conrad Heyns
Conrad Heyns’ talk focused on the process of how Centre for Academic Language and Literacies (CALL) at Goldsmiths, University of London redefined its principles of course design while they were preparing for the BALEAP accreditation. Within CALL, there are four courses: international foundation certificate pathways, graduate diploma pathways, pre-sessional English and academic language development. These courses aim to prepare international students from all over the world for studying in the UK.
The BALEAP Accreditation Scheme is a peer-review quality assurance and quality enhancement scheme. While preparing for the accreditation, CALL started reviewing the principles that informed their course design. In order to do that, they organized several staff meetings and asked the staff to come up with their own definition of EAP and to reflect on the institution itself. Upon further reflection, discussions and research they formulated their course design principles.
The first design principle they agreed on was authenticity. Since they believe that learning occurs best in settings as authentic as possible, they wanted to provide interactions that are not artificially constructed, and are socially and contextually meaningful to students. To this end, they contacted departments for appropriate texts and asked them to compile glossaries. They also made alterations on the tasks and activities by allowing students to engage in task and activity types they would most likely be exposed to in their departments. Some examples of these tasks and activities include seminar discussions and poster presentations.
The next course design principle was social interaction and collaboration. They offered students social activities around London. Through these activities, they formed better social relationships. They also invited guest speakers from the departments so that students can have better ties to the departments they will be studying in the future. They also benefited form online quizzes and discussions. In order to ensure collaboration is embedded in the course, they changed their final speaking assessment to a group presentation and a seminar discussion.
Another course design principle they worked on was scaffolding. To better prepare students for their final writing assignments or for their future studies, they started to focus more on scaffolding students’ work. To this end, they used authentic texts, had discussions related to these texts and asked students to keep reflection journals. They also evaluated not only the assignment itself at the end of the course, but also the drafts students submitted in the process.
Their last course design principle was genre. They found out that sometimes even when the language level is at an appropriate level, it is difficult to work on some authentic texts. They believed the reason could be partly due to genre-specific knowledge. They involved different departments and the library to identify different text types. In order to raise students’ awareness of genre, they introduced different text types and exploited them in class. They also invited staff and students from specific departments for talks and Q&A sessions.
All in all, in preparation for the BALEAP accreditation, they were forced to review their principles and practices. This process enabled them to revisit their beliefs, principles, materials and eventually their course design. It also enabled them to align their teaching practices and assessment with their course design principles. Conrad Heyns believes that going through an accreditation process is an excellent opportunity for institutions to pause, reflect and make informed decisions for the future.