The March issue will be given to delegates at the IATEFL conference in Manchester, UK, at the beginning of April. What better example could there be of the collaborative nature of the English teaching profession than this conference, at which thousands of teachers gather to share ideas and offer each other support and encouragement? I will be there for the whole conference and look forward to meeting many ETp contributors and subscribers.
In our main feature, Deak Kirkham looks at one of the ways in which teachers regularly help and support their colleagues: the in-service teacher development session. He takes a critical look at current practice and suggests ways in which these sessions could be made more useful and more attractive to the participants.
Michelle Shin describes how she fosters collaboration amongst her students – not just by giving them group assignments, but by actively equipping them with the skills they need to take part in team-based activities. In the multicultural context of her classes, this pays dividends in both teaching the students the important life skill of working with others, and also in forging friendships across cultural divides.
Daniela Incze is also keen on getting her students to work collaboratively. She teaches young learners, so she is setting up good habits for their future lives.
Teachers who would like to see their students contributing to group projects might like to take a look at Russell Stannard’s Webwatcher column, in which he describes Padlet, an ideal tool for creating online ‘corkboards’ to which students can add text, videos and illustrations. For those who want to try a ready-made exercise in collaboration with their students, the photocopiable activity at the end of the Scrapbook is one that involves the use of teamwork to reconstruct a photo.
Of course, there is a fine line to be drawn between good healthy collaboration and less desirable manifestations of the urge to work with others. Michael Morgan addresses the uncomfortable subject of student plagiarism – a kind of unconsenting collaboration on the part of the original author whose work is copied and pasted into the plagiarist’s essay! For Michael Morgan, the key is not to punish students for plagiarism, but to actively teach them to reject it for themselves and to encourage them to have the confidence to express their ideas and thoughts in their own words.
If you would like to contribute to ETp, there are several ways you can do this. Take a leaf out of Penelope Prodromou’s book and write to us about something you read about in ETp and tried out successfully in your own classroom. Or what about submitting an idea for our It Works in Practice spread? In this issue, the spread has been produced by teachers at the British Council in Egypt. Why not get together with your colleagues and send us your ideas, together with a photo of you all?