TEIS Newsletter

TEIS News, Volume 20:2 (July 2005)

by User Not Found | 10/31/2011
In This Issue...
  • Leadership Updates
    • Letter From the Chair
    • Letter From the Editor
    • Minutes of TEIS Business Meeting
  • Articles and Information
    • Teacher Collaboration for the Achievement of All Learners
    • The Team Teaching Model in an Intensive Program
    • Collegial In-Service Teacher Collaboration as Professional Development: Transcending Traditional Dichotomies
    • Practitioner Action Research: Classroom Research for Teachers
  • About This Member Community
    • Call for Contributions
    • TEIS Leadership Team 2005–2006
    • Teacher Education Interest Section (TEIS)

Leadership Updates Letter From the Chair

By Paula Golombek, e-mail: pxg2@psu.edu

Greetings to all of you in the Teacher Education Interest Section! It seems that TESOL San Antonio was not even over when attention turned to TESOL Tampa! Special thanks to those of you who participated in the convention and our business meeting. From our business meeting discussions, it is clear that our group has a wealth of concerns and viewpoints. We also need to renew our energy and encourage new participants in our interest section. I hope that this effort will be enhanced by our now working electronic mailing list. I want to thank Juyoung Song and Laura Bryant for their help in enabling us to communicate more easily. I encourage you to share news on the e-list, as well as to submit articles for the newsletter.

TESOL 2005

The Graduate Student Forum continues to be a successful endeavor, and we hope to continue to have a voice in its success. We had a well-attended networking event on "Research and Educational Practice," cosponsored with the Applied Linguistics Interest Section and Research Interest Section. We also had an informative InterSection, done with Program Administration, on "Obtaining ESL/EFL Employment in Today's Marketplace." These crosspollinations across Interest Sections and caucuses help us to meet our members' interests and have an impact in various ways. The Academic Session addressed "The Experienced Teacher and Renewing Professional Expertise," whereas our Discussion Groups focused on issues concerning so-called nonnative speaking teachers, promoting professionalism, increasing sociopolitical awareness, and mentoring, to name a few.

IS Leadership Committee

As many of you know, TESOL has decided to eliminate the IS Council. TESOL, instead, is in the process of creating an IS Leadership Committee (LC) which will help run and coordinate the ISs and facilitate communication with the board. Currently, a Transitional Leadership Committee is soliciting advice from all interest sections on nominating and integrating an elected member (the other four members have been appointed). Because we are unclear what the implications of this change are for the interest sections, I encourage you to stay informed on this issue and to get involved in standing committees as well as across InterSections, depending on your interests.

Given the elimination of the IS Council representatives, we will soon redefine these roles on the steering committee. The governing rules committee (outgoing chair, one of the LC members, and two other members-at-large) will soon be reviewing our governing rules. We also will be establishing a new position to serve as a liaison to the Graduate Student Forum. We will be sending information about these issues out on the e-list.

New and Retiring TEIS officers

I would like to thank Past Chair Mark Tanner for his leadership and hard work, as well as his counsel, over the past year. Valarie Jakar has stepped down as IS Council representative (historian), as has Barbara Wright as e-list manager. Thank you to you both for your important contributions. For the coming year, the chair-elect will be Judy Sharkey. Rachel Grant will be joined as IS Council rep by Julia Austin and Elza Major. Chuang Wang remains a stabilizing force as newsletter editor and is being joined by Joel Hardman. Katya Nemtchinova also remains a stabilizing force as Web manager. Juyoung Song was elected e-list manager.

TESOL 2006

The later deadline (June 1, 2005) for TESOL submissions is a welcome change. This means, however, that we will be reviewing proposals over summer break. Many thanks to those of you who volunteered to read proposals. We are also looking for submissions for Discussion Groups. These can be sent to Judy Sharkey at judy.sharkey@unh.edu.


Letter From the Editor

By Chuang Wang, University of North Carolina, Charlotte, NC, USA, e-mail cwang15@email.uncc.edu, and Joel Hardman, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, IL, USA, e-mail: jhardma@siue.edu

Please join me in welcoming Joel Hardman as the coeditor of our newsletter. I am sure that he will bring new perspectives and great energy to our newsletter. We would like to thank all the contributors to this issue. Without your support, this issue would never have come out. Having reviewed all the manuscripts we solicited from 2005 TESOL conference presenters, we decided to put three articles about teacher collaboration and one article about teacher action research in this issue.

Through an example of two fifth-grade teachers, Linda New Levine shares with us why teachers need to collaborate and described the benefits and possibilities of conflict and loss of personal autonomy for collaborative teaching. Next, Christine Campbell and Deanna Tovar provide a brief history of team teaching, present an overview of the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center in Monterey, California, examine team building, and discuss the advantages and disadvantages of team teaching.

Meanwhile, Noriko Ishihara, an ESL/EFL teacher, and Magara Maeda, a Japanese as a foreign language teacher, introduce an informal but systematic teacher collaboration model of professional development and show how they transcended traditional dichotomous labels such as native versus nonnative speaking teacher. In the final article, Dorothy Valcarcel Craig explores the process of action research as a means for improving classroom practice and the educational experiences of second language learners. More articles about action research will appear in our next issue at the end of this year.

Articles that appear in TEIS with bylines are not copyrighted by TESOL or the interest section. Authors retain copyright of their own work. Although TESOL encourages readers to share the contents of the newsletter with interested colleagues and students, articles may not be reprinted or posted online without the express written permission of the author. If you prefer to receive the TEIS newsletter at a different e-mail address, please e-mail your changes to members@tesol.org or make changes online atwww.tesol.org.


Minutes of TEIS Business Meeting

This meeting was held at the 2005 convention at San Antonio, Texas, March 30, 2005, 5:00–7:00 p.m.

Welcome and Introductions

  • Chair of TEIS Mark Tanner opened the meeting at 5:08 by welcoming everyone and providing an overview of the meeting that was included on the meeting agenda. Fifty-eight people attended.
  • Mark introduced the current steering committee: Shelly Wong, Paula Golombek, Valarie Jakar, Rachel Grant, Chuang Wang, Katya Nemtchinova, and Barbara Wright. Mark asked for additions to the agenda. There were none. The 2004 business meeting minutes were approved.

Updates

  • Mark provided an update on total membership: 1,008 (772 primary and 236 secondary).
  • Mark also provided an update on the number of proposals adjudicated for TESOL '05 (213) for the 58 approved slots. He noted the 12 discussion groups that were scheduled as well as the Academic Session and the InterSection, and advertised the networking event.
  • Signup to serve as a reviewer for TESOL '06 was done by handing out sheets to put down name, e-mail, and so on. These were collected and given to Rachel Grant.
  • Mark introduced Adelaide Parsons, who gave a brief introduction to the Graduate Student Forum (GSF). Participant Kara Grueninger then gave a review.
  • Mark introduced Phil Quirke who made a plea for submissions to the Essential Teacher.
  • Mark introduced Anne Katz who discussed the revised preK-12 English language proficiency standards, announced the project, and asked audience to preview the document on the Web site and fill out the feedback form.
  • Mark introduced Lia Kamhi-Stein, member of the board, who thanked Mark for his participation. Discussed the novice leader forum and follow-up session (new session for next year).

New Business

  1. Mark handed out a copy of the ballots and read the nominations for each position: incoming chair, Interest Section Council Representative (ISCR), and newsletter co-editor.
    • Mark highlighted the role of e-list manager as crucial. We need to develop the TEIS mail list to communicate with our IS, but also need to monitor communication so that inappropriate communication (such as advertising) does not occur.
    • Candidates for Chair-Elect: Judy Sharkey (present) and Kate Reynolds
    • Candidates for Incoming Chair: Adelaide Parsons (present) and Shelley Fairbairn
    • Candidates for ISCR: Elza Major and Julia Martin (both present)
    • Candidates for newsletter co-editor: Joel Hardman
    • Shelley Wong nominated Ju Young Song for e-list manager. She was voted in with show of hands.
      Ballots were distributed. Paula collected them and Rachel counted them.
    • Shelley asked about opening up the election to others. Mark explained that the ballots had been completed and that this was not appropriate at this time.
  2. Special Projects
    • Shelley Wong explained the function of Special Projects. She suggested the topic of NNS and to work with the NNS caucus. Phil Quirke asked if it needed to be a project at the conference; the answer is yes. Other topics put forward: ESL standards across the world and NNS issues.
  3. Ideas for discussion groups were solicited. Topics needed by June.
  4. Ideas for Hot Topics were solicited. Ideas included endorsement procedures, mainstream teachers becoming ESL experts, teacher education worldwide, mentoring (new teachers and experienced teachers in new contexts), crisis in funding for ESL programs, teacher education of ESL/EFL, ESL content area instructors, age and employment discrimination, distance education and online teacher education (without practicum), No Child Left Behind, and ESL certification.
  5. Mark highlighted newsletter articles and need for due dates.
  6. IS Council Items: Jessie Moore Kapper presented the goals of the Writing Interest Section group being proposed. After discussion, there was a call for level of support. Thirty people raised their hands in support.
  7. Election results were announced. Winners included Judy Sharkey, Adelaide Parsons, Elza Major, Julia Austin, and Joel Hardman.
  8. IS Council cont.: Asked if there were any items for formal proposal. There was discussion about how to get hard copies of newsletters. This can be done through Chuang Wang.  
    • There was another question about TESOL Web site availability. We need to explore this issue to find out what is open and what is open only to members. No IS Council resolutions.There was another question about TESOL Web site availability. We need to explore this issue to find out what is open and what is open only to members. No IS Council resolutions.
  9. Mark highlighted that the abstract proposal deadline for TESOL 2006 was June 1, 2005 (an addition of a month over previous years).
  10. Mark presented his understanding of the reconfiguring of the TESOL board. One question asked was "How will IS communicate with the board?" Mark answered that committees would be created around issues. Reports from the committees would then be sent to the board, and then could be sent back to be reworked.
    • Someone commented that this makes it harder to put a resolution forward. Lynn suggested that, in response, we get involved in standing committees. Adelaide suggested getting involved across the InterSections, such as K-12. It was noted that the convention chair would no longer be on the board.
  11. In terms of the convention, Lynn suggested that we rank proposals to suggest how big the rooms should be (some rooms were clearly too small for popular topics, whereas other rooms were too big).
  12. Mark noted that we need to review our governing rules. And as a result of the demise of the IS Council Representative, Mark suggested that we need to make a governing rules committee. He suggested (as per our earlier meeting) that the governing rules committee should include (a) outgoing chair, (b) one of the Leadership Committee members, and (c) two members at large. We need to review the governing rules to make sure that this is appropriate and then vote.
  13. Mark also proposed a newly elected position of liaison to the GSF (per Adelaide Parson's concerns). In this way, TEIS can continue its support of the GSF and work to ensure its continued success. We agreed to send an e-mail out about this.
  14. Final item was an announcement of meetings: TEIS Planning, IS Council, and IS/Caucus Newsletter Editor's Workshop. Encourage everyone to visit the booth.

Meeting ended at approximately 7 p.m.

 



Articles and Information Teacher Collaboration for the Achievement of All Learners

By Linda New Levine, e-mail: lnewlevine@aol.com

Shelly is a fifth-grade teacher with 10 years' experience in a migrant school in Florida. She has a special interest in science education and is the science coordinator for her school. Patty is a special education teacher assigned to work with Shelly to promote achievement gains for the special education students in the class. Shelly's class has 19 students but only three of the students are monolingual in English. The other students have varying degrees of bilingual ability in English and Mexican Spanish. Neither Shelly nor Patty has taken coursework in teaching linguistically diverse students but they are working toward their ESOL credential through self-study in an attempt to pass the district test qualifying them to teach ESOL students. Shelly and Patty confer daily on ways to instruct the students in the class so that all can achieve at a high level. Shelly and Patty have created a culture of collaborative inquiry between them that supports and propels their instructional decisions. Their dedication is seen in their routine of meeting together every day after school for the purpose of planning the instruction of the diverse learners in their class. They have achieved a high level of collegial and collaborative workmanship. Together they offer suggestions, voice doubts, encourage, share teaching techniques, and examine, challenge, and create classroom practices. They seek to better understand children, teaching and learning within the context of improved science and math content instruction. The trust that exists between them is apparent.

Why do teachers need to collaborate?

Collaboration offers a variety of advantages:

  • Collaboration leads to improvement in student behavior and achievement. When collaboration is the norm in schools, students sense the coherence and consistency of expectations and respond to the better learning environment.
  • Collaboration results in better teacher satisfaction and adaptability. Teachers who collaborate feel more effective. There is better support for beginning teachers and increased energy for experienced teachers.
  • One person can't do it all. The challenges to students are great, the risks are many, and teachers need the collective intelligences of all of their colleagues to deal with their students.
  • No one teacher is as smart as a collaborative pair. Collaboration is predominant in the medical and business communities because these professionals recognize the greater achievements from collaborative activities versus isolationist activities.
  • No teacher knows it all. Students are with mainstream teachers most of the school day. The time spent there can be very effective in raising levels of academic achievement if teachers share their expertise. ESL teachers cannot learn the entire content curriculum and don't need to if language teachers collaborate with the content teachers who are experts in these areas.

Teaching is a profession mired in norms of privacy (Inger, 1993). Teachers typically see themselves as autonomous decision makers, entrepreneurial individuals whose solitary classroom work is grounded in the very organization of schools. Creating collaborative cultures in schools is a difficult task requiring teachers to move from a comfortable position of independent autonomy to one of interdependent support. Interdependence is common in other professions. Brain surgeons work in collaborative teams. Airline pilots and traffic control towers have strong bonds of interdependence. But true collaborative interdependencies are rare among teachers (Little, 1990). The collegial sharing of materials is not sufficient to produce the results researchers have ascribed to true teacher collaboration: higher student achievement, increased teacher morale, creation of innovative practices, and support for new teachers. Weak forms of collaboration depend on the voluntary acquiescence of individual teachers. For strong interdependent collaborative bonds to develop, internal or external forces may be required. For Shelly and Patty, that press comes from the high standards required by the state and the nation, specifically through the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test. High standards combined with a student population at risk because of their migrant status and limited English language skills created a situation where collaboration became essential for success (Lacina, Levine, & Sowa, in press).

Interdependent collaborative teams operate under a different structure than do traditional groups of teachers. They have an increased frequency and intensity in their interactions; there is a higher probability for mutual influence; and collective judgments and decision making are the norm. Joint collaborative work requires shared responsibility for teaching. Teachers reach decisions in concert toward a single course of action or decide on a set of priorities that govern the decision making of individual teachers (Little, 1990). The shift from personal autonomy to public collective involves both gains and losses.
Personal prerogative is made subject to collectively developed values, standards, and agreements, but personal initiative is also accorded greater collective and institutional force. Independent action is both constrained and enabled. Teachers open their intentions and practices to public examination, but in turn are credited for their knowledge, skill, and judgment. Indeed, the close scrutiny of practice within a group perhaps is sustained only where the competence and commitment of the members is not in doubt (Little, 1990).

The benefits accruing to strong collaborative teaching teams appear to outweigh the possibilities of conflict and loss of personal autonomy. These benefits include: increased knowledge of subject matter, increased knowledge of instruction, increased ability to observe students, stronger collegial networks, stronger connection of daily practice to long-term goals, stronger motivation and sense of efficacy, and improved quality of available lesson plans.

New teachers finding themselves in schools with cultures of collaborative inquiry have better teacher satisfaction, find themselves better served by the professional development resonating from the collaborative experience, and ultimately remain in public school teaching longer than do colleagues in schools without these cultures (Johnson & Kardos, 2002).

Group Norms

Successful collaborative groups have commonalities that promote reflective inquiry. Teachers in these groups develop norms for group work as well as communication skills that help to "establish and maintain a safe and trusting environment and encourage group members to reexamine, clarify and transform their thinking so they can help students succeed" (Langer, Colton, & Goff, 2003, p. 14).

The norms that exist in collaborative groups develop over time and are often not explicitly defined. But when new teachers arrive at the school, they become aware of how things are done and quickly follow suit. Group norms vary from school to school but typically include agreement on subjects such as starting and ending meetings on time, supporting each other's ideas, withholding criticism and judgment, focusing on teaching issues and student work, and engaging in open, honest communication (Langer et al., 2003). Teachers tend to develop group norms based on a need to create a collaborative experience that is efficient and, most important, trusting. The best professional development opportunities are created within groups of teachers working together in a collegial environment toward a common goal.

What is collegiality?

A friendly work environment is beneficial to a teacher's well-being, but it doesn't contribute much to achievement gains for students. For these gains to occur, teachers must develop norms of collegiality within the school culture. Judith Warren Little's (1982) research on effective schools contributed much to our understanding of collegiality—an essential requirement for collaboration. Little found four patterns of observable behavior among teachers in the effective schools she studied:

  • High frequency of teachers talking about teaching. The nature of the talk was precise. It described patterns of classroom behavior and experimentation (What I Tried), the resulting outcomes among students (How it Went), and reflection (What I Learned).
  • High frequency of teachers observing one another. These observations formed a continuum from formal to informal. Some schools had a culture of frequent peer observations.
  • High frequency of teachers planning and making instructional materials together. Once again the planning was sometimes a formal experience with teams of teachers writing a course or a unit. It was sometimes informal with two teachers working together to improve a lesson or write or create new materials together.
  • Teachers teaching each other about the practice of teaching. Some of these teaching experiences included formal mini courses developed by teachers and taught to groups of other teachers within the school. Often, they were informal. A teacher would walk into another's class to ask what she was doing and the resulting conversation resulted in a new way of helping third graders focus on paragraphs with main ideas and supporting details.

Susan Rosenholtz (1991) replicated Little's study and added an important new element:

  • Teachers were willing to ask for and provide one another with assistance. This is the riskiest and slowest developing characteristic of all in that it requires a great deal of trust among teachers. None of us want to admit that we are having problems in the classroom. But this isolating notion severely restricts development. All teachers have problems that are challenging and we need access to the collective experiences of all teachers in the school to help resolve them, to continue learning, and to serve children better.

What do teachers need to collaborate on?

 Teachers need to spend time together. This means getting out of their classrooms or out of their high school departments. Norms of privacy exist in schools that are counterproductive to teacher development.

 Teachers need to develop collegiality in the workplace. For collegiality to become the norm, schools may need to be reorganized with teams of teachers and administrators. These teams need broad leadership expansion so that teachers are involved in higher level decision making such as curriculum design, student placement, textbook choices, and scheduling.

Teachers need to develop professional attitudes toward teaching as a profession, including

  • Respect for each other and tolerance of differences
  • A research base on teaching strategies that can be compared and analyzed among groups of teachers
  • A search for improvement guided by intellectual curiosity and a lifelong commitment to learning—not because teachers are deficient or need to be fixed up
  • A school staff operating as a community with a common purpose

Teachers need leadership that supports decision making and initiative, shared planning and observation time, material support for copy machines and materials, and training in how to collaborate given through workshops, conferences, and teacher education programs.

Most important, teachers need to recognize that good teaching skills develop over a period of time spent reflecting, analyzing, and comparing. Effective teachers experiment, reflect, and collaborate within a framework of institutional support founded in research on the knowledge and skills of teaching. In this way, expertise can spread among faculty members and can thereby help marginal or ineffective teachers improve.

References

Inger, M. (1993). Teacher collaboration in urban secondary schools. (No. 78). ERIC Digest Clearinghouse on Urban Education. ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED 363676.

Johnson, S. M., & Kardos S. M. (2002). Keeping new teachers in mind. Educational Leadership, 59(6), 12-16.

Lacina, J., Levine, L. N., & Sowa, P. (in press). For all our students: Collaborative partnerships among ESL and classroom teachers.Alexandria, VA: Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages.

Langer, G. M., Colton, A. B., & Goff, L. S. (2003). Collaborative analysis of student work. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

Little, J. W. (1982). Norms of collegiality: workplace conditions of school success. American Education Research Journal, 19(3), 325-340.

Little, J. W. (Summer 1990). The persistence of privacy: Autonomy and initiative in teachers' professional relations. Teachers College Record, 91(4), 508-536.

Rosenholtz, S. J. (1991). Teachers' workplace: The social organization of schools. New York: Teachers College Press.
 
Linda New Levine has worked as an ESL/EFL teacher, consultant, and trainer, taught ESL methods and materials, written curriculum, and conducted workshops with educators on four continents. Dr. Levine holds a masters in TESOL and a PhD in applied linguistics.

 


The Team Teaching Model in an Intensive Program

By Christine Campbell, e-mail: Christine.Campbell@monterey.army.mil, and Deanna Tovar, e-mail: Deanna.Tovar@monterey.army.mil

The most typical teaching model in the United States today is one in which a teacher teaches a course without dividing the total number of class hours among other teachers. In this model, the teacher is a decision maker who teaches all the classes, creates the curriculum or adapts an existing one, and develops the assessment system or adapts an existing one. The Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center (DLIFLC) in Monterey, California, the premier language school of the United States government where over 21 languages are currently being taught, uses an alternative to the one-teacher, one-course model: team teaching (TT). This short article first presents an overview of DLIFLC, then provides a brief literature review including the history of TT, and finally examines team building before concluding with the results of a faculty survey on the advantages and disadvantages of TT.

Overview

The primary goal of DLIFLC is to educate, evaluate, and support foreign language specialists for the Department of Defense and federal agencies. Accredited since 1979, the Institute offers graduates 45 units of college credit. In 2001, it gained congressional authority to award Associate of Arts degrees. It has awarded over 750 degrees over the past 2 years. Currently, the Institute has 768 faculty teaching 3,221 students both commonly and less commonly taught languages such as Spanish and Pashtu, respectively. The courses last from 25 to 63 weeks, depending on the language. Students are in class 6 hours per day and do 2 hours of homework every night. The Institute's graduates regularly achieve higher proficiency than do graduates from American colleges and universities.

Brief Literature Review

The DLIFLC Accreditation Self Study Report (1989) defined TT "as a group of six teachers who function interdependently, are accountable for specific academic and administrative responsibilities, and are assigned to three classes of not more than 10 students each" (p. 29). The three classes are considered sister classes, meeting as an entire class of 30 several times a week for a variety of reasons such as test taking, post-test review, and student presentations. The Institute's management at the time, under the direction of Chancellor Dr. Ray Clifford, decided to deviate from the traditional teaching model as part of a concerted plan to raise proficiency scores in standardized tests of listening comprehension, reading comprehension, and speaking. The Report explained the rationale for the change: "Team teaching is expected to foster initiative and innovation by stimulating faculty creativity and providing broad flexibility to action" (p. 29).

Before opting for the TT model, management reviewed the literature in the fields of education, organizational management, and communications. Drawing from research such as Shaw's (1981) work on group dynamics, Janis' (1972; 1982) on groupthink, and Vroom and Jago's (1988) on decision making, management transitioned to TT over several years, completing the process in 1992.

Team Building

To ensure that team members are prepared for the job of managing the academic and administrative responsibilities of team teaching, the Institute requires all teaching teams to participate in a team-building workshop prior to the start of a class. The entire team must be present for the 3-day experiential workshop, and the department chair also participates. He or she is invited to meet with the team members and workshop facilitators at the start of the workshop and then once during the workshop. Prior to the workshop, the session facilitators meet with the chair to determine what the chair's expectations are in terms of the team's team-building experience. The chair is encouraged to share information regarding the team's approach to division of labor, communication, problem solving, and items related to effective teamwork.

The goal of the team-building workshop is to improve the work process of the teaching teams to enhance the team's learner outcomes (proficiency results in listening, reading, and speaking). During a team-building workshop, team members are reminded that well-functioning teams are interdependent, share a common goal, are cooperative, and are focused on learner outcomes. It is interesting to note that the Institute has seen a correlation between learner outcomes and the ability of teaching teams to cooperate and collaborate, both administratively and academically. The team-building workshop is thus designed to allow team members the opportunity to analyze and discuss their approach to communication and work processes with the goal of increased productivity (in terms of both process and product) for the team.

The workshop begins with a team envisioning activity. The team develops its vision statement, which contains the team's goals and values. The following is a sample team vision statement: "To achieve our common goals, the team will consider the needs of both students and teachers. The team will work in a positive, pleasant, and fun atmosphere; members will communicate clearly and cordially in dealing with each other." One especially practical activity requires the team members to discuss the tasks for which they are responsible. They also indicate the support they need from their department chair. The chair is invited to review the team's requests for support. Additional topics that are addressed in the workshop are the win-win model of interaction, the stages of team development, and managing and resolving conflict on the team, as well as problem solving and decision making.

On the last day of the workshop, the participants develop an action plan and prepare a team charter. Team members are further guided on how to adopt, apply, and adapt the charter while they work together as a teaching team.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Team Teaching

The primary goal of the Institute's implementation of team teaching was to increase learner outcomes, specifically proficiency scores. There have been other positive by-products as well. In a survey administered to 50 faculty, the following sample comments representing the majority opinion were provided in response to the question "What are some of the advantages you have seen as a result of team teaching?"

  • "Students are exposed to a variety of teaching styles and accents."
  • "Teachers share pedagogical information, insights, and experience."
  • "Students are exposed to a greater variety of approaches."
  • "Teachers get to collaborate."
  • "Teachers are better able to help students."
  • "Teachers work with the same students for the entire duration of their studies and are better able to observe and monitor students' L2 development."
  • "Teachers get to share materials more."
  • "Team teaching strengthens individual teachers."

Next are the sample responses, representing the majority opinion of the faculty, to the question "What are the disadvantages of team teaching?":

  • "Team members may be incompatible."
  • "Students sometimes feel they are being pulled in different directions."
  • "Grading may not be consistent."
  • "There is a lack of time for joint planning."
  • "Some teachers do not contribute equally."
  • "Not all teachers seem to be able to work constructively as members of a team."

Conclusion

This short article on TT has described DLIFLC, briefly reviewed the TT literature including the history of TT, discussed team building, and presented the results of a faculty survey on the advantages and disadvantages of TT. Since implementing TT, the Institute has consistently increased learner outcomes, achieving higher proficiency scores in standardized tests of listening comprehension, reading comprehension, and speaking. Given the increase and the widespread support of TT by faculty, the Institute plans on using the TT model for many years to come.

References

DLIFLC Accreditation self-study report. (1989). Presidio of Monterey, CA: The Defense Language Institute.

Janis, L. (1972). Groupthink. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.

Janis, L. (1982). Victims of groupthink. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.

Shaw, M. (1981). Group dynamics: The psychology of small group behavior. New York: McGraw-Hill.

Vroom, V., & Jago, A. (1988). The new leadership: Managing participation in organizations. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.

Christine Campbell is dean, School of Middle East Languages, Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center (DLIFLC), Presidio of Monterey. She has taught Spanish and ESL and worked as test project director, Division of Tests and Standards, and department chairperson at DLI. She presents and publishes in the areas of language program management, language testing, and language anxiety.

Deanna Tovar is dean, School of European and Latin American Languages, DLIFLC, Presidio of Monterey. She has taught Spanish and ESL and worked as a faculty developer, department chairperson, and academic specialist at DLI. She presents and publishes in the areas of leadership development, second language acquisition, and the role of motivation in language learning.


Collegial In-Service Teacher Collaboration as Professional Development: Transcending Traditional Dichotomies

By Noriko Ishihara, e-mail: ishi0029@umn.edu, and Magara Maeda, e-mail: maed0012@umn.edu

Introduction

In-service teachers' opportunities for professional development include program-wide workshops, summer institutes, and licensure renewal training. How much these opportunities lead to actual teacher learning is an empirical question, however. It may be that teacher learning and professional growth vary as a result of, for example, the level of interest or relevance of the topic and the level of opportunity for teacher reflection (Feiman-Nemser, 2001). We might ask what forms of professional development effectively contribute to continuous teacher learning.

As opposed to programmatic staff development activities, self-directed teacher collaboration can be a way of facilitating effective professional development (Richards & Farrell, 2005). In fact, past literature offers evidence of successful collaboration between language teachers (e.g., Bailey, 1996; Boshell, 2002). In this article, we introduce the informal but systematic teacher collaboration between ourselves: Ishihara, an ESL/EFL teacher, and Maeda, a Japanese as a foreign language (JFL) teacher. Our long-term peer-based collaboration has been fruitful as a result of our differences in backgrounds, experiences, and statuses and our similarities in teaching principles and educational-cultural backgrounds. Our multiple perspectives (e.g., as ESL and JFL teachers, native-speaking [NS] and nonnative-speaking [NNS] teachers, language learners, teacher educators, and researchers) have expanded our horizons, fostering an enhanced understanding of complex issues in language learning and teaching. This article describes the nature of our collaboration and identifies the positive characteristics that facilitate our professional development. We provide an alternative model of professional development that transcends traditional dichotomies (e.g., NS vs. NNS teacher) but has yet to be documented in language teacher education. We argue that the multiple perspectives that emerge in our collaborative dialogue show how we transcended the labels conventionally imposed on us, such as NS versus NNS teacher, English versus Japanese teacher, teacher versus learner, and teacher versus researcher. 

Nature of our Collaboration

The aim of our collaboration has been to enhance our reflective teaching informed by current knowledge in second language acquisition (Brown, 2001) and to refine our understanding and practice in L2 research. We are in-service teachers of two different languages; Ishihara is in ESL and Maeda in JFL. Unlike cases of collaboration between teachers of the same language, we teach different languages while sharing our L1/L2 and much of our cultural-educational backgrounds. This makes Ishihara a NNS teacher and Maeda a NS teacher in our instructional contexts, although each of us is also somewhat experienced in teaching the other language. Maeda is currently teaching as well as engaging in teacher education and research, and Ishihara is for the time being focusing on L2 research. Maeda is deeply engaged in her everyday teaching and brings practical issues to discuss, which keeps Ishihara close to teachers' practical concerns. On the other hand, Ishihara is better able to access theory as a result of her focus on research, which helps with a connection between theory and practice in Maeda's teaching. 

We had weekly 2-hour collaboration meetings during the academic year 2003-04 (and less extensively thereafter), during which we discussed issues in our teaching/research. For example, implementing content-based instruction in her fourth-year Japanese course, Maeda brought her challenges to share, whereas Ishihara used Maeda's JFL expertise in revising her research-based pragmatics curriculum. In addition, we exchanged individual reflections and responded to each other by e-mail and in face-to-face meetings. For the purpose of researching the process of our teacher collaboration, in 2003-04 we tape-recorded our entire dialogue, and after three consecutive meetings reflected on our learning and monitored our collaboration (Ishihara & Maeda, 2005).

It is important to note that in our collaborative dialogue we decided to go beyond an often-used model of cooperative development (Edge, 1992). In this model, one takes the role of a speaker whereas the other is that of an understander. The understander mirrors the speaker's point by probing and asking clarification questions to facilitate the speaker's articulation of the issue and refrains from giving suggestions. In discussing our manner of collaboration, we decided to employ this model to facilitate articulation; however, on the basis of our trusting collegiality and friendship, we also elected to add another step of exchanging opinions openly and offering critique. Although a lack of tact and respect could undermine our self-esteem, we wanted to use each other as a resource to arrive at more effective solutions to our issues. Yet, we respected each other's position and avoided becoming confrontational at all times.

Characteristics of our Collaboration

Through reflection on our collaboration, we have identified several characteristics that contributed to our success. First of all, we committed to this systematic collaboration for an extended period. Gaining new experiential knowledge, connecting it to already-existing theoretical knowledge, and internalizing it naturally requires a significant amount of time. Therefore, we believe that our sustained collaboration has been conducive to our fundamental professional development. Second, unlike some mandated staff development workshops, our collaborative meetings were self-initiated completely on a voluntary basis. Our genuine interest in teaching and research kept our collaboration sustained, focused, and productive, as did our intrinsic motivation for personal and professional growth. 

Another notable feature of our collaboration was its recursive nature. In our long-term commitment, a discussion of most issues took more than several meetings to settle while we visited and revisited the same issue. This recurrent structure facilitated reflection and promoted internalization of the newly acquired knowledge (see Ishihara & Maeda for a theoretical explanation of this process). In addition, reflection on our practice, (re)examination of the pedagogical issues, and articulation of our beliefs were undertaken through a process of problem solving which led to a tangible outcome (e.g., an immediate solution, a new perspective useful in our teaching or research, a change in belief and practice). Our similar teaching principles and nonhierarchical peer interaction in a nonthreatening environment were also facilitating factors for open discussion and constructive criticism despite the fact that we teach different languages in different contexts. Last but not least, throughout our collaboration, we constantly drew on our multiple perspectives, which we discuss further below. 

Multiple Perspectives in the Collaborative Dialogue

Analysis of our recorded and transcribed collaborative dialogues has shown that our experience and expertise emerged through our multiple perspectives, as, for example, an ESL teacher, a JFL teacher, a NS teacher, a NNS teacher, a language learner, a teacher educator, and a researcher. We never found ourselves confined to one or even a few of these categories; rather, both of us represented all of these categories. In dialogue, our perspectives dynamically shifted, allowing us to draw from all our experience and expertise (Maeda & Ishihara, 2004). While doing so, we transcended conventional dichotomies or statuses often imposed upon us, moving beyond simply being a ESL or JFL teacher, a NS or NNS teacher, a teacher or a researcher, and so forth. Such multiple perspectives empowered our professional selves and reinforced our collaboration with a synergetic effect. This notion of multiple perspectives has the potential to be applied elsewhere for effective collaboration between teachers with varying expertise.
 
Conclusion

There is no doubt that finding time and staying committed to voluntary collaboration is a challenge in any teacher's life; however, we feel that our desire for professional development and our intrinsic interest in research functioned as an incentive for systematic and sustained collaboration. Our discussion of each other's immediate concerns has given us an invaluable opportunity to broaden our knowledge and deepen our philosophical view of language learning and education. We argue that such an informal form of self-directed collaboration can be a legitimate form of teachers' professional development. As this type of systematic collaboration is time– and energy-consuming, perhaps teachers need some sort of institutional support, such as funding or time allocated specifically for professional collaborative dialogue. We hope that our collaboration has provided an alternative form of professional development for teachers and teacher educators aspiring to develop personally and professionally. 

References

Bailey, F. (1996). The role of collaborative dialogue in teacher education. In D. Freeman & J. C. Richards (Eds.), Teacher learning in language teaching (pp. 260-280). New York: Cambridge University Press.

Boshell, M. (2002). What I learnt from giving quiet children space. In K. E. Johnson & P. R. Golombek (Eds.), Teachers' narrative inquiry as professional development (pp. 180-194). New York: Cambridge University Press.

Brown, H. D. (2001). Teaching by principles: An interactive approach to language pedagogy (2nd ed.). New York: Addison Wesley Longman.

Edge, J. (1992). Co-operative development. ELT Journal, 46(1), 62-70.

Feiman-Nemser, S. (2001). From preparation to practice: Designing a continuum to strengthen and sustain teaching. Teachers College Record, 103(6), 1013-1055.

Ishihara, N., & Maeda, M. (2005). The collaborative dialogue as co-learning: Language teacher collaboration for professional development. Manuscript submitted for publication.

Maeda, M., & Ishihara, N. (2004, April). A unique model of collaboration: Drawing on our multiple perspectives beyond the NS-NNS status. In B. Brady (Chair), Learning from Models of NEST/NNEST Collaboration. A colloquium conducted at the 38th Annual TESOL Convention, Long Beach, CA. Available upon request.

Richards, J. C., & Farrell, T., S. C. (2005). Professional development for language teachers: Strategies for teacher learning. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

Noriko Ishihara is currently a PhD candidate in second languages and cultures education, curriculum, and instruction at the University of Minnesota. Her areas of interest include teacher education, the teaching of pragmatics, and learner subjectivity in language learning.

Magara Maeda is currently a PhD student in second languages and cultures education, curriculum, and instruction at the University of Minnesota. Her areas of interest include foreign language instruction, teacher education, and language teacher cognition.

 


Practitioner Action Research: Classroom Research for Teachers

By Dorothy Valcarcel Craig, e-mail: dvcraig@mtsu.edu

As the need for accountability continues to grow, ESL educators operating within a practitioner-oriented environment must provide the leadership and expertise required to improve practice. By working collaboratively with other school professionals, the ESL teacher is able to interact within the classroom environment, therefore gaining experience, which better informs practice. However, experience must be matched with evaluative skills to truly improve the classroom setting. Effective evaluation of a program, classroom environment, or situation—which in essence is based in systematic analysis—can be facilitated through practitioner action research. The field-intensive process of action research requires practitioners to take part in prolonged engagement, recognize the researcher-as-instrument as sound practice, collect multiple forms of data, effectively analyze and code data, and use the findings to describe a particular situation—with the results assisting in developing a plan of action.

Action Research in the ESL Setting

 Noffke and Stevenson (1995) suggested that there are multiple definitions of action research because of the nature of the process. Perhaps the most unique aspect of action research is that the process encourages experts in the field to examine and evaluate classroom situations from the inside, therefore gaining authentic data and first-hand information. Teachers who engage in action research are true researchers in that they

  • Share a knowledge base that is common to their profession
  • Are aware of the standards of their practice
  • Understand the differentiated roles within the profession
  • Are fully competent to make professional decisions with regard to improving their own practice
  • Engage in continuous reflection to improve classroom practices in general. (Meyers & Rust, 2003)

With the rapid increase of second language learners in the public school environment, ESL professionals are relying on the process of action research to assist them in meeting the demands of these unique learners. As school systems continue to try to accommodate the large numbers of second language learners, many ESL professionals find themselves the only source of knowledge and expertise for students, regular education classroom teachers, and school administrators. The ESL professional evolves in many instances to be the source of expertise that his or her peers look to for suggestions regarding instruction, assessment, and resources. 

By engaging in the action research, alone or with classroom teachers, the ESL educator is able to better understand the learner and therefore improve the quality of interactions, actions, and instruction (Schmuck, 1997). In many instances, action research becomes a systematic and orderly way to observe practice and to explore a problem and a possible course of action. Then, the preplanned inquiry can be easily shared with others to improve common problems and situations (Johnson, 2002; Tomlinson, 1995).

Rationale, Purpose, Process

 Action research is designed to study a particular situation and then to develop a plan to improve practices, conditions, and environments. The process provides information that may assist educators in supporting and/or providing

  • Measures of accountability
  • Material and data to become better informed in order to make sound decisions
  • An avenue for reflection and collaboration
  • An arena for improving practice

Action research is characterized by the following components that are typically found in all well-designed qualitative studies:

  1. The study takes place in the natural setting
  2. Before the study begins, the researcher examines his or her own biases to remove them and to use professional judgment and background in developing into a researcher-as-instrument
  3. Throughout the study, multiple forms of data are collected, including primary data, secondary data, cued data, and artifacts
  4. Findings are typically rich in description
  5. Process, not product, is stressed
  6. Inductive analysis is ongoing
  7. Meaning is derived from data analysis and coding
  8. Findings inform practice

Designing an Action Research Study

After a problem is identified, the qualitative design of any action research study demands that the researcher develop a set of overarching questions or themes that drive the study. Unlike quantitative studies where hypotheses direct the study, action research focuses on (a) a set of themes that indicate what will be examined, (b) who will be involved, (c) what takes place within a specific environment, and (d) how subjects behave within a given situation. Although the overarching themes focus the study, they leave room for related themes—and sometimes unrelated and unexpected themes—to emerge as the study progresses.

The strength of any action research study lies in the triangulation of the data, which in essence provides validity to what was observed and what took place. Sagor (2000) suggested that action researchers use a graphic organizer or triangulation matrix to show the various data sets that will be used to answer each overarching question. The matrix is also helpful in determining what data sets will best address the overarching questions as the study progresses. Figure 1 shows a sample matrix.

Figure 1. Sample Triangulation Matrix

Triangulation Matrix

Focus of Study: ________________________________________________

OVERARCHING 
QUESTION
DATA SOURCE #1 DATA SOURCE #2 DATA SOURCE #3

Question #1

 

     

Question #2

 

       

Question #3

 

     

Considering the fact that data are the heart of any action research project, the researcher must select data sets that (a) assist in making decisions, (b) narrow the study, and (c) determine the path taken. In addition, the action research process calls for both ongoing data analysis as well as summative data analysis. Ongoing data analysis helps the researcher to

  • Develop ongoing, revised, analytic questions
  • Plan data-collection schedules from beginning to end
  • Plan data-collection sessions based on previous sets of data
  • Record observer comments
  • Revisit video– and audiotapes to glean meaning
  • Try new ideas and themes
  • Begin exploring metaphors, analogies, and concepts to identify patterns
  • Use multiple forms of visuals and visual devices such as cameras, recorders, photos, illustrations, Web sites, and artifacts

Action Research in Action

Professional educators engage in action research daily. They use the process because it allows them to study the classroom environment firsthand—without any staged circumstances added. The process enables a connection between research and practice in that teachers are able to use their findings as they design and implement action plans based on data collection and analysis. Lawton (1989) suggested that by engaging in action research, balance is created through the professionalism of the practicing teachers. The balance, therefore, places emphasis on the school as the obvious location for curriculum renewal, innovative and effective practice, ongoing evaluation, and continued research. In addition, research conducted by practicing teachers for practicing teachers involves a collection of persuasive evidence, thus enabling an authoritative view of a particular classroom situation. The match between practice and research results in findings and insights that further support specific suggestions for improving practice. Findings gleaned from action research studies provide information that is relevant to the real world of teachers and enables predictability with regard to classroom practices, strategies, methods, and outcomes (Mills, 2003).  Table 1 provides a few examples of action research designed and implemented (a) individually by ESL teachers and (b) in collaboration with classroom teachers.

Table 1. Examples of Practitioner Action Research Conducted in the Classroom Setting

TITLE OF STUDY OVERVIEW GRADE/SUBJECT
Computers, Testing, and Non-English-Speaking Students in the Regular Education Classroom The study examined the affect of computer utilization to prepare non-English-speaking students for end-of-level standardized tests. High school: grades 9-12 chemistry, biology, and physics; predominately Spanish speaking, newly arriving immigrant students.
An Examination of Room Design and Student Interactions Collaborative study involving an ESL teacher and school librarian who observed student interaction, motivation, and language use.  Data collected was used to redesign the ESL room to promote student interaction.  Elementary school: grades K–4; ESL classrooms/all subjects; rural school serving immigrant and migrant populations
Orthography and Language Acquisition A study conducted to examine and analyze the impact of cursive writing on language acquisition. Middle schools (2); suburban and rural; language arts and social studies; second language learners representing 17 languages and countries
Multicultural Literature and Student Perceptions An examination of the use of multicultural children's literature books and perceptions of elementary school students with regard to a variety of stereotypes within culture groups.  Collaborative project between an ESL educator and classroom teacher. Elementary school: grades 1, 2; suburban school; all subject areas

The studies illustrated in Table 1 were conducted by practitioners who identified problems and followed through with a plan for research and eventually a plan of action, which was presented to those in decision-making positions. Findings from each study assisted the practicing teachers involved in improving the learning environment and experiences for second language learners. If practice is to be improved and learner needs are to be met, the process of action research is one more tool for ESL professionals to use and implement. In addition, the collaboration that takes place between the ESL teacher and classroom teacher is valuable in meeting the needs of second language learners.

References

Johnson, A. P. (2002). A short guide to action research. Boston: Allyn and Bacon.

Lawton, D. (1989).  Education, culture, and the national curriculum.  London: Hodder and Stoughton.

Meyers, E., & Rust, F. (2003). Taking action with teacher research. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.

Mills, G.E. (2003).  Action research: A guide for the teacher researcher.  Upper Saddle River, NJ: Merrill Prentice Hall.

Noffke, S. E., & Stevenson, R.B. (1995). Educational action research: Becoming practically critical.  New York: Columbia Teachers College Press.

Sagor, R. (2000). Action research. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

Schmuck, R. A. (1997). Practical action research for change. Arlington Heights, IL: Skylight Professional Development.

Tomlinson, C.S. (1995).  Action research and practical inquiry: An overview.  Journal for the Education of the Gifted, 18, 467-84.

Dr. Craig is a faculty member with the department of educational leadership at Middle Tennessee State University. Since September 2002, she has served as the principal investigator for a federally funded grant that assists teachers in completing the coursework required for the add-on endorsement in ESL.



About This Member Community Call for Contributions

The TEIS Newsletter encourages submission of articles and book reviews on topics of significance to teacher educators. We also solicit TEIS voices from all of our members.

Articles should be between 800 and 1500 words and may be program descriptions, course descriptions, best practices, teaching techniques, or articles on any topic of interest to ESOL teacher educators, especially those of sociopolitical interest or issues not commonly addressed in the literature.

Book reviews of between 300 and 500 words should provide the reviewer's analysis of books that are relevant to the practice and theory of teacher education.

TEIS voices are paragraphs of approximately 100 words that introduce a teacher educator's work. TEIS voices serve as a networking tool as well as an opportunity to shine a spotlight on a teacher, program, or country we might not otherwise read about.

All manuscripts should follow the APA Publication Manual (5th Ed.). Please send your contributions to Chuang Wang atcwang15@email.uncc.eduor Joel Hardman at jhardma@siue.edubefore October 30, 2005, for the next issue.


TEIS Leadership Team 2005–2006

Past Chair: Mark Tanner, Brigham Young University, e-mail mark_tanner@byu.edu

Chair: Paula Golombek, Penn State University, e-mail pxg2@psu.edu

Chair-Elect: Judy Sharkey, University of New Hampshire, e-mail judy.sharkey@unh.edu

Future Chair-Elect: Adelaide Parsons, Southeast Missouri State University, e-mail ahparsons@semo.edu

IS Council Representatives:

Rachel Grant, Penn State University, e-mail rag022@aol.com

Elza Major, University of Nevada, Reno, e-mail emajor@unr.edu

Julia Austin, University of Alabama, Birmingham, e-mail jaustin@uab.edu

Web Manager: Katya Nemtchinova, Seattle Pacific University, e-mail katya@spu.edu

Electronic Mailing List manager: Ju Young Song, Ohio State University, e-mail song.151@osu.edu

Newsletter Coeditors:

Chuang Wang, University of North Carolina at Charlotte, e-mail cwang15@email.uncc.edu

Joel Hardman, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, e-mail jhardma@siue.edu


Teacher Education Interest Section (TEIS)

TESOL's Teacher Education Interest Section provides a forum for ESOL teacher educators and other TESOL members to raise, discuss, and address issues relevant to the education, preparation, and continuing professional development of teachers who work with ESL/EFL learners around the world. It creates opportunities for ESOL teacher educators to learn, interact, collaborate, and share with one another.

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