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2. Implementation of the ENET Scheme

2.4 Systemic Innovations and Programs

2.4.4 Training Programs and the Regional NET Coordinating Team

The NETs who participated in the focus groups welcomed the guidance of the NET Section and the Regional NET Coordinating Team (RNCT). Many spoke of their support for an expansion of the activities of the team. In particular, it was noted that the NET Section’s Advisory Teachers play a respected and valued role in the NET Scheme in primary schools, and their contributions to that Scheme could be used as a basis upon which the RNCT could build.

NETs and local English teachers were surveyed about their experience of training programs, professional development and workshops, including those provided by the RNCT and by external service providers. They were asked about their attendance at such courses, and their perception of the effectiveness of the courses in terms of improving their English teaching.

Their responses to questions about the RNCT-provided workshops and courses are shown in Figures 2.9 to 2.11.

0 10 20 30 40 50 60

I did not attend any courses

Not effective A little bit effective Effective Very effective

Perceived effectiveness of courses/workshops provided by RNCT in terms of improving English teaching

%

Local English teacher NET

Figure 2.9. Perceived effectiveness of professional development courses/workshops provided by the RNCT.

Figure 2.9 illustrates an encouraging outcome for the RNCT. It was an indication that, in general, the teachers who had been able to attend professional development courses or workshops considered them to be useful and to have practical application to English teaching at their school. To expand upon these ideas, NETs and local teachers were asked whether they

had been able to use or share ideas and information gathered from these courses with other English teachers at their schools. Their responses are illustrated in Figures 2.9 and 2.10.

0 10 20 30 40 50 60

I did not attend any courses

I have not been able to share the teaching ideas or materials

I have been able to share one or two teaching ideas or

materials

I have been able to share quite a few of the teaching ideas

and materials

I have been able to share all or most of the teaching ideas

and materials

Perceived ability to share ideas and information gathered from RNCT workshops/courses

%

Local English teacher NET

Figure 2.10. Perceived ability to share ideas and information from professional development courses/workshops provided by the RNCT.

0 10 20 30 40 50 60

I did not attend any courses

I have not been able to use the teaching ideas

or materials

I have been able to use one or tw o teaching

ideas or materials

I have been able to use quite a few of the teaching ideas and

materials Perceived ability to use ideas and information gathered from other providers'

%

Figure 2.11. Perceived ability to use ideas and information from professional development courses/workshops provided by the RNCT.

The patterns of teacher response illustrated in Figures 2.9 to 2.11 suggest that:

• Teachers who were able to attend professional development courses or workshops run by the RNCT considered them to be useful and pertinent for their practice as English teachers.

• However, many teachers indicated that they had limited opportunities to share the information gained from courses with other teachers at their schools. If professional development courses and workshops are to be a successful channel for the dissemination of new ideas and resources, schools should be encouraged to provide teachers with opportunities to share and discuss ideas. This could be included as part of the agenda for meetings of the English Panel.

NETs and local English teachers were asked to nominate the most effective strategy for teaching English that they learned from RNCT-provided courses or workshops, and the evidence they used to support their judgment of the strategy’s effectiveness. In most cases, the evidence cited by local English teachers related to student interest and enjoyment, although some teachers referred to their use of formative assessment strategies and to positive impact on student test results and to opportunities to share ideas with other teachers.

The strategies nominated as most effective by local English teachers included use of:

• activity-based materials;

• portfolios;

• games and activities;

• role play activities;

• songs;

• debating and public speaking;

• task-based learning;

• mind maps and brainstorming;

• multimedia;

• cooperative learning;

• action plans for improvement of students’ reading strategies;

• techniques for recognizing different types of text and their structure;

• authentic teaching materials;

• techniques for teaching phonics in an enjoyable way;

• teaching methods designed to cater for students with special needs;

• rubrics for oral assessment; and

• criterion-referenced assessment.

Strategies nominated as most effective by the NETs included use of:

• motivational games, activities and internet materials;

• interesting ways to introduce poems, songs and drama activities;

• ideas to motivate passive students in the context of large classrooms;

• tailoring materials for reading and writing to suit student needs;

• functional grammar;

• process writing;

• integration of phonics into all areas of English teaching; and

A small number of NETs reported that they could not attend meetings, workshops or courses that were held during class time because it would mean that their students missed lessons.

Some were concerned that the strategies presented in the workshops were too challenging for their students and expressed interest in teaching strategies tailored to the needs of students who were struggling to learn English. Others commented that they valued the materials distributed during the workshops, and several reported that they found it useful to learn more about the NSS Curriculum. Quite a few of the NETs reported that the strategies and information presented in the RNCT workshops were familiar to them, but that they appreciated access to new and interesting materials to support these teaching strategies.

The NETs wrote about the usefulness of the strategies in terms of improvements in student attitude, participation and interest in classroom and extracurricular English activities. They welcomed opportunities to work with other NETs and to share information and ideas, several were pleased with the responses of colleagues on the English Panel when they took the strategies back to their schools, and others wrote about their observations of improved student performance in reading and writing activities. A very common observation by the NETs was that the strategies were practical, well-designed and easily transferred to their classroom practice.

Responses to questions about courses related to English teaching that were run by service providers other than the RNCT are shown in Figures 2.12 to 2.14.

0 10 20 30 40 50

I have not attended any courses

Not ef fective A little bit ef fective Ef fective Very effective

Perceived effectiveness of other providers' workshops/courses in terms of improving English teahcing

%

Local Englis h teacher NET

Figure 2.12. Perceived effectiveness of other providers’ professional development courses/workshops.

0 10 20 30 40 50 60

I did not attend any courses

I have not been able to share the teaching ideas or materials

I have been able to share one or two teaching ideas or

materials

I have been able to share quite a few of the teaching ideas

and materials

I have been able to share all or most of the teaching ideas

and materials

Perceived ability to share ideas and information gathered from other providers' workshops/courses

%

Local English teacher NET

Figure 2.13. Perceived ability to share ideas and information from other providers’

professional development courses/workshops.

0 10 20 30 40 50

I did not attend any courses

I have not been able to use the teaching ideas or

materials

I have been able to use one or tw o teaching ideas or

materials

I have been able to use quite a few of the teaching ideas

and materials

I have been able to use all or most of the teaching ideas

and materials Perceived ability to use ideas and information gathered from other providers'

workshops/courses

%

Local English teacher NET

Patterns of teacher response illustrated in Figures 2.12 to 2.14 suggest that:

• Approximately 20% of the NETs responded that they had not been able to use any of the teaching ideas or strategies from these courses/workshops and more than 10% of the NETs perceived these courses and workshops as ineffective in terms of improving English teaching at their school. These negative reports were more prevalent for the courses provided by other service providers than for RNCT-led courses.

• In similar fashion to the RNCT-led courses and workshops, the teachers reported that they had limited opportunities to share information and materials gathered from courses with their colleagues.

Local teachers and NETs were asked about the most effective strategies for teaching English learned from the courses led by providers other than the RNCT, and the evidence upon which they based their judgment of effectiveness. Evidence cited by the local teachers included improvements in students’ willingness and ability to participate in classroom activities, access to new materials and enhancement of their confidence as English teachers. A diverse range of strategies gained from these workshops were nominated as effective by local English teachers, including use of:

• classroom management to permit group and pair work

• tailoring teaching to student ability

• strategies to improve student participation

• methods for teaching phonetics

• development of a learning progression framework

• methods for the development of higher order thinking skills

• methods to cater for learner diversity

• adaptation of teaching materials from authentic resources (e.g., films, television)

• drama and story writing activities

• methods to enhance interaction between teachers and students

• peer collaboration

• information about the NSS Curriculum, and in particular information about teaching language arts content

• use of drama in teaching

• task-based learning

• mind maps and brainstorming

• multimedia to teach English

Strategies nominated as most effective by the NETs included use of:

• ideas for working within an examination-driven education system

• methods for evaluation of school-based assessment tasks, including portfolio assessment

• methods to ensure that teaching materials are targeted to the needs of second language learners at different levels of proficiency

• creative use of games, poetry, songs, story telling, debating and drama

• methods for motivating passive students in large classes

• methods for teaching genre writing

• computers and online resources in the classroom

• classroom management to promote small group work

• ways to establish an active English Corner

• ideas for extracurricular and enrichment activities

Some of the NETs reported that the courses and workshops did not provide information appropriate for students of lower ability levels, while others perceived them as avenues for propagation of expectations about student assessment. Several of the NETs wrote that they valued the courses and workshops primarily for the opportunities they provided to form professional bonds with the local English teachers at their schools or for the materials and resources that were distributed. Some commented that their role in the school did not include classroom teaching, and so the courses were of little practical use to them.

Many of the NETs reported that they evaluated these strategies in terms of their practical application in the classroom and impact on student interest and participation. Several others cited evidence of their students’ successful participation in competitions, student production of films, screenplays and other creative activities, and improvements in students’ oral language proficiency.