In this blog post, the author shares their personal journey to becoming an ELT (English language teaching) teacher in Colombia, including their experience as a teacher and their decision to start their own educational consulting company, ELT Think Tank. The author encourages readers to join them as they continue learning and growing as professionals.
Teaching English is about much more than just what goes on in the classroom. As professionals, it goes beyond what we can do as individuals and is truly one of those professions that are done best when done with fellow colleagues. Collaboration is a competence that takes teachers to the next level, so we’ll explore who we could collaborate with to make our students’ learning experience more impactful and meaningful.
Collaborate with colleagues
Collaboration with colleagues brings about a plethora of benefits for the teachers involved, so let’s identify just a few of the possible ways you could get started or continue collaborating with fellow teachers.
- Professional learning network: These range from international associations to groups of teachers in a small rural public school. In these groups, you can be in charge of your own professional development, explore your interests, stay up to date with what’s going on in the teaching world, ask a friend for feedback, and even brainstorm with your colleagues to fine-tune ideas and teaching strategies.
- Online: Especially with the current state of the world, online communities have become more important than ever. They are connecting teachers from around the world, who despite the differences between their students, educational contexts, and curriculum are all going through a similar situation as they shift to remote teaching. It has truly become a safe space to ask questions, engage and collaborate with others and at the end of the day to not feel alone!
Our ELT Thinkers make part of a WhatsApp group where we do just this. Here are a few examples of how we collaborate daily.
Collaborate with students
Although we mostly consider collaboration to be with colleagues, we can also put into practice our collaboration skills with our students. We could do this in two ways.
Here are a few ideas when teachers collaborate with students.
- Encourage and praise students by reminding them how they’ve managed to achieve their goals, not only which ones they’ve achieved.
- Keep students in the loop and be realistic with the lesson aims.
- With your students decide on topics of interest that can help them not only learn English but expand their knowledge on particular topics.
STUDENT -STUDENT COLLABORATIONS
We should also promote collaboration among students, as two of our ELT Thinkers mention here:
- Share and co-write texts of a previously agreed literature genre and topic, as a means to help students increase awareness of the subtleties involved in writing and for overall improvement of writing skills. Register and English proficiency level should be carefully considered. – Andres Roa
- Pairing students up to write a story to develop experiences, events, and/or characters. We guide them through the exercise by writing questions or prompts for them to discuss and elaborate. We have questions that cover the setting of the story, the plot of the story, and the development of the story. For example: What is the setting? In other words, when and where does the story take place? Use the five senses (smell, touch, see, taste, feel) to describe it. – Rodrigo Mejía
Collaborate with communities
We can also take our collaborations outside of the classroom and extend them to other people within our community who can share their own experiences and knowledge. Through these connections, you could integrate language with culture, help students expand their knowledge on everyday topics, as well as promote lifelong learning to your students and the people in your community.