#week2 Mentor a particular teacher to select an issue and develop research questions - and share your reflections please! #week2


Richard Smith
 
Edited

Mentor a particular teacher / colleague to select an issue relating to their current teaching, and guide them to develop research questions for teacher-research. [Ideally, record your conversation – with permission – and listen back to analyse and/or reflect on it]
Share and critically reflect on this experience, from any point of view you like [you don't need to share any recording - just your reflections!]
You can prepare for this by watching the week 2 webinar recording - 
http://iatefl.adobeconnect.com/p8bu48bi02xh/ and carrying out the suggested reading and preparatory activity: https://groups.io/g/Mentoring-TR/wiki/Week-2-%E2%80%93--starting-Jan.-19-%E2%80%93-Developing-topics-and-questions


Nahla Nassar
 

Dear All,

Mentoring one person is not an option for me as I have about 30 participants in my two courses. I had to divide my time between them as they worked on finding a research idea. I asked them to think about their own teaching practices and think of something they have tried and would like to explore or something they want to try and then do their research about. They were given a list of topics which we discussed and they gave presentations about in the first part of the course. These include PBL, PjPBL, digital storytelling, using ICT and cooperative learning. They mostly focused on the practical and more specifically, the easy to research subjects for them. In addition, all of them intend to focus on perception and/or experience of wither students or colleagues. The research questions were not easy for them to formulate and we did not get to finish at least half of the participants' research questions as they kept thinking of other ideas that interest them as I sat down with them for a one on one conversation. I have decided to give another session for final formulation of research ideas and questions. 

Nahla 


Nahla Nassar
 

I am sorry I missed the webinar. I obviously missed the announcement because I opted for a daily summary and I think the webinar announcement got lost somewhere in the summary email. Perhaps you could send us an email reminder a day or two before, please. 


Elizabeth Bekes
 

Hi, Nahla,

All that above sounds to me like an excellent way of approaching topics and research questions. I have a feeling that it is worth our while to spend a little longer on the topics and some more on the research questions, because an AR project that is set up well saves time and effort later (as well as helps avoid misery being stuck in an ill-designed piece of academic work).

I'm sure there will be plenty to discuss as our learning community develops. Perhaps you could share with us the details of an ongoing project that has taken off the ground? There is a separate thread for that called 'Reports on current projects'.

Take care,

Elizabeth


Rossana Piccini
 

Dear all,

As I mentioned in another post, we are on holidays here (summer holidays!) so it is difficult for me to find teachers or trainees available at this time of year. However, I was able to reach a colleague who had expressed an interest in carrying out a research project some time ago and I arranged to meet with him to discuss possible topics and formulate research questions. The thing is that this teacher works as a headteacher and will have no groups of his own this year (the first term begins in March) but will double as a supply teacher regularly. We started exploring aspects of his teaching and duties in order to find genuine questions that would lead to a doable research project. We discarded a long-held issue with adult learners having to sit compulsory exams that had originally got him stuck on his attempt to investigate the topic by agreeing that it was somehow difficult to answer right now, which is what got him stuck in the first place, apart from being something he could do little about at the present time. Trying to get as close to classroom research as I could, I elicited examples of classroom work / contact with students that this teacher has and will have this year and then the topic surfaced: doing supply work, that is, working as a substitute teacher. As a mentor, I think I elicited and asked for clarification a lot and found myself suggesting alternatives and guiding to action rather more frequently than I had expected. Eventually, we got to formulate a couple of questions and he will be working on them, writing them down and discussing them with me before Sunday. 
It seems that sometimes, practising teachers, especially if they are not used to working within a reflective approach towards their teaching, may find it difficult to come up with ideas for classroom-based research and, as mentors, we'll need to explore their perceptions and beliefs (together with them) quite a lot before settling down on a topic and coming up with RQs. For some reason, I was expecting to paraphrase and probe much more than I did. As regards helping this teacher formulate RQs, it seems to me that it went well - he left with some possible questions that were open enough and quite on topic. Let's see how he reflects upon them and formulates them this week and how I can helo him. :-) Thanks!


 

Hello everybody!

I´ve already watched the webinar and read the chapters which I found incredibly useful and guiding. Unfortunately, it´s going to be hard for me to mentor a teacher at this time of the year as we´re on holidays. Anyway I´ll try to contact one or two teachers to help and develop a research question. 
Last year I had several mentoring sessions, but as I´ve already mentioned in some previous comments, it´s pretty hard to lead teachers into research. Most of them have several different groups, some of them do even have more than one teaching place/job, so they´re usually frentically rushing from one place to another. Anyway in one of our sessions I did ask teachers to share a "good classroom experience" and one that was not that good. There were excellent contributions and analysis. 
However, I didn´t take those experience into some sort of "classroom research question" which I should have done and hope to be doing this year. 

Irene


Ravinarayan Chakrakodi
 

Dear all
I've just started mentoring a group of teachers who are participating in an in-service teacher education programme. I began my session by narrating a few critical incidents, as examples, from the previous training sessions. I then asked a few questions to help teachers analyse those incidents and reflect on them. 
Later, teacher trainees were asked to narrate similar incidents from their classrooms. Some of them did that and others were asked to identify some of the challenges they have faced in their classrooms. The session went well but the general tendency was to offer suggestions, give tips and sugest immediate solutions. I explained Kolb's professional learning cycle and talked about the importance of critical analysis and reflections. I've now asked them to be more specific and identify a significant classroom issue and  think of probable research questions.
In the next session, we will look at their RQs and try to refine them.
Ravi


 

Dear all, 

As I´ve mentioned before we are on holidays now (summer break) so it´s been pretty hard to get to the teachers to start, at least, thinking about a RQ. However, there´s always one teacher who wants to do some extra work and cooperate :)

I invited the teacher to take part and start thinking about any side of her teacher that she´d like to research. In this way I came to realize that it´s really hard for teachers to undergo any kind of AR needless to say, start with the process. We had a really good conversation and after moving sideways into different things and making her see what the point and the way to go through this process was, we finally arrived to a RQ!

Now, I´m going to ask her to think about the questions to continue with the process. 

Irene


juliasevy
 

Hello all,
As i have already shared i am working with a group of teachers from the university i work at (UNAE) in Ecuador. We are in the exploration stage of AC. the group of four teachers and 2 students i am working with are still trying to specify the problem the are having in their classrooms. So this week and next week i am observing each teacher, if possible at least 2 times and the students will also observe them and they will observe each other. We are then planning on meeting and discussing our observations to help them figure out what is  the problem they are haivng in the classroom based on their initial ideas. After this stage, hopefully by the second week of Feb. we will be able to start forming the research questions. Our term is currently ending so we will use this coming month to create a good research question, objectives and a plan. they willl conduct research in the new semester. 


Ravinarayan Chakrakodi
 

Some teachers find everything problematic in their classrooms. They are faced with huge challenges such as developing even basic, foundational skills in children. And then the challenges of developing higher order skills, teaching the prescribed coursebooks/lessons, conducting oursebook activities, etc. They find a mismatch between what children are able to do at the entry level and what they are expected to achieve (curricular ecpevtations) by the end of the semester/year. This mis-match, huge gap that exists is a big worry. Where to begin from, what to focus in classroom research, which problem is to be addressed first, how to move from one area to another and ways of integrating different areas of challenges in their research is a hitch. There is a starting trouble, I guess!


SIDNEY MARTIN MOTA
 

Hi there!

I have found a teacher who'd like to do some teacher research. Steps I followed:

1) we set up a meet on Wednesday afternoon (Jan 22nd at 12.30 approx)
2) talked about how classes were going and whether she would like to improve any specific aspect in her teaching and/or about her students
3) after some dialogue (trying to elicit, paraphrase and clarify what it was) we spotted an aspect that she was trying to improve.
4) told her about teacher research as a means to help students and teachers solve "teaching" puzzles and she found it interesting. She'll give it a go!
4) we turned the puzzle into an exploratory research question so that it was easier to explore.

The topic is:

(drum-rolling now........) improving students' autonomy when solving problems whilst doing activities in a foreign language class

why?

the teacher wants them to be able to develop strategies that will make them more autonomous and less dependent on their teacher.

The research question(s)...a first try at least:

What do students do when solving problems autonomously? (explore behaviour=B)
What do students think about developing autonomous strategies? (explore other's perceptions= OT)

we've decided to meet again in a couple of weeks

sidney





Mariana Serra
 

Hi everyone!
                     thanks Elizabeth Bekes for your feedback to my week 1 post! Loved it! 

                      I have requested permission from one of the teachers who is taking part in EVO 2020 Classroom-based research for Professional Development to write my post on our mentoring dialogue while guiding her to develop her research questions after having elicited the problematic situation she wants to explore (mentoring conversation: one-to-one conversation by replying to each other in our content site).
- Selecting a topic: It was not difficult for her to identify her main focus which is related to way/s to help her secondary school students use online translation tools for good purposes during her English lessons (thanks Ruben for helping her elicit it, too). 
- Creating research questions: I am guiding her right now to link her pedagogical purpose to research questions, i.e. she is reflecting on the specific questions that would go under her purpose. In order to create her exploratory research questions she is now thinking of questions which explore her own perceptions, her secondary school students' perceptions and perhaps behaviour (esp. her students' behaviour).

                    I believe that an effective mentor-mentee relationship is in essence dialogical. By meaningful dialogues with our mentees we can support and guide them on the way(s) to explore a particular concern. These dialogues encourage engagement with the realities that teachers face in their teaching contexts and provide opportunities during which both of us, mentors and mentees learn and develop.

                    That's for now!
                    Looking forward to reading more reflections! :)
                    Kind regards, Mariana Serra


Elizabeth Bekes
 

Hi, Mariana,

So here we go again, meeting in cyberspace... Yours is a simple and elegant solution, namely, involving someone in our twin course :-). And the topic is so interesting. GoogleTranslate is getting better and better at its job, and I often wondered what kind of a seventh sense do we need to have to be able to spot that our students used googletranslate instead of handing in their own work (because we tend to spot it)... That would be a nice topic for an applied linguist (working on a large corpus).
 
There are two aspects that I did not anticipate when I started mentoring 11 teachers and 5 students about 2 months ago. One is the amount of time that I would spend on this project. I understand that the start-up phase is always more intense and we are also participating in this EVO, but at some point, it would be worth exchanging notes on the mentors' own workload. I'm a volunteer, so I have the luxury of managing my own time, but I am assuming that few mentors do this as a full-time job, and the majority would need to fit in this task alongside their other responsibilities. And this is not just an issue of how well you manage your time as a mentor, but the fact that mentoring is an intense affair, so I honestly admire people who are dealing with a number of mentees.

The other issue is what you're saying about mentors and mentees learning and developing together. In all honesty, I didn't expect to learn as much as I actually did or have done so far, because that process is ongoing. Apart from the activities related to being part of this learning community, I needed to read up on corpus linguistics and the New General Service List, learn about the 'murder mystery' genre for testing critical thinking skills, listen to interviews on vocabulary acquisition and look at the interrelationship of authentic tasks and motivation, etc. Thankfully, there is a lull in our activities at the university and I can catch my breath :-)...


Mariana Serra
 

Dear Elizabeth,
                       thanks for your immediate feedback. Richard, Seden and you are doing an amazing job! Congrats!

                      Take a break and enjoy it :)
                      
                      All the best, Mariana Serra


Rossana Piccini
 

Hi! Well then, we discussed RQs yesterday. 

Topic: Working as a substitute teacher with adult learners. (We call it "supply" work in our institution and it refers to teachers taking over lessons whenever the group teacher is absent. This could be for one class or several ones. It is our institution's policy that students must always have their lesson when their teacher is absent.) As a headteacher, my mentee must coordinate 'supply teachers' and do supply work himself.

Research Questions
(F2F conversation - qs written on whatsapp) ! 😁

[24/1 18:40] aaa fer: How do ss feel when having a supply teacher?
[24/1 18:40] aaa fer: What do they prefer?
[24/1 18:41] aaa fer: What can be done to improve their experience?
Me: the second one may be too general, what do they prefer to do or...?
[24/1 18:43] aaa fer: What do they prefer to do with them?
Me: you mean, what activities they prefer or what kind of work they prefer to do...? We agreed it was the latter.
I liked it that the first question was exploratory enough and we started brainstorming possible ways to collect the data and agreed to continue next week.


Elizabeth Bekes
 

Hi, Rossana,

The topic is excellent for several reasons: the headteacher has a dual identity (manager and classroom teacher) and what he finds as a result of his exploration could affect both the way he teaches and the way he manages (I mean, I'm assuming he is responsible for the institution's supply teacher policy). The 'automatic' reply would be that students don't like substitute teachers, because 'it's second best', disruptive and feels like a token lesson. But what if students like substitute teachers because it provides variety, a new approach, a new style of communication. In life, students will meet different speakers, so getting used to the idiosyncrasies of one teacher may be limiting. Teachers may also feel it's burdensome to take on a new group for one session or a longer period of time, but if the 'headteacher' asked them about this, there may not be full disclosure. This question: What can be done to improve their experience? would assume that the sessions by supply teachers need to be improved (decode: they are not good enough) and this, in itself, opens up opportunities from creating self-contained sets of materials, as a one-off, to an occasion of genuine communication (since there is an information gap between the supply teacher and the adult group members). Whichever way, I think this is a hit. Sometimes we shy away from exploring topics that appear to be transient or marginal, when they are actually an important (and also talked about but not explored) part of school life. I didn't like giving supply classes, but made an effort to make them interesting and engaging for both sides. It's a bit like teaching unplugged and, on occasion, it can be surprisingly satisfying :-) ...


Rossana Piccini
 

Dear Elizabeth,

Thank you very much for your insight! I agree that the topic may unfold in many different directions - and useful and practical ones. Also, you rightly say: This question: What can be done to improve their experience? would assume that the sessions by supply teachers need to be improved (decode: they are not good enough) and you've helped me realise that we should discuss this question further! Perhaps exploring the mentee's perceptions a bit deeper here. And yes, the outcome of this research project may lead to institutional changes and/or other supply teachers' development. I'm excited. Thanks a lot! :-D 


Paola Cossu
 

Hello, everybody!

As some teachers have already said, we’re on holidays in Argentina, which means that it might be a challenge to find a teacher willing to participate. However, I managed to talk to one teacher who had shown interest in research. We had an audio chat through WhatsApp about one of the groups she had last year.

We started our mentoring dialogue by exploring some areas of uncertainty regarding this group. We went over a couple of concerns she had, trying to focus on one of these concerns which would we worth researching, with lots of eliciting and questioning for clarification on my part.  She is mostly concerned about her students not doing the tasks she proposes in the way she expects them (this is what she initially said). As the dialogue went on, I focused on trying to help her narrow down the topic and reflect upon whether this concern she has is related to language use or to the accomplishment of the activity itself.  For the time being, she concluded that it’s a language issue. That is, as she puts it, her students don’t seem to use the language she expects them to use. I proposed trying to explore why this seems to be so, and the first possible research question that emerged from this dialogue is : Why don’t my students use the language I propose for the tasks?  By exploring this, she might get to know whether this is due to, for example, lack of language practice , or something else, such as  the way she gives instructions.  We’ll be working on this during this week.

 

 


Elizabeth Bekes
 

Well done, Paola, yours is the 200th post! :-) ... I'll read it properly later today, hugs, Elizabeth

On Monday, 27 January 2020, 07:35:29 GMT-5, Paola <cospaola@...> wrote:


Hello, everybody!

As some teachers have already said, we’re on holidays in Argentina, which means that it might be a challenge to find a teacher willing to participate. However, I managed to talk to one teacher who had shown interest in research. We had an audio chat through WhatsApp about one of the groups she had last year.

We started our mentoring dialogue by exploring some areas of uncertainty regarding this group. We went over a couple of concerns she had, trying to focus on one of these concerns which would we worth researching, with lots of eliciting and questioning for clarification on my part.  She is mostly concerned about her students not doing the tasks she proposes in the way she expects them (this is what she initially said). As the dialogue went on, I focused on trying to help her narrow down the topic and reflect upon whether this concern she has is related to language use or to the accomplishment of the activity itself.  For the time being, she concluded that it’s a language issue. That is, as she puts it, her students don’t seem to use the language she expects them to use. I proposed trying to explore why this seems to be so, and the first possible research question that emerged from this dialogue is : Why don’t my students use the language I propose for the tasks?  By exploring this, she might get to know whether this is due to, for example, lack of language practice , or something else, such as  the way she gives instructions.  We’ll be working on this during this week.

 

 


Elizabeth Bekes
 

Hi, Paola,

The way you describe it shows that, justifiably, you are treading lightly. The challenge of students falling back on (over)familiar language is, well, familiar. Everything is 'interesting', and everybody is 'nice'. And there is so much entangled here. It would be interesting to see what the students would say, because giving an answer might require some reflection on the students' part (just as well, though). I look forward to hearing more. We often think that our issues belong to our classroom or our immediate context alone, and it's reassuring to know that others are struggling with the same problems. That's the first step - to know that you are not alone :-) ...