Most of the current major educational reforms call for extensive, meaningful teacher collaboration. In these reforms, teacher collaboration is essential: teachers are expected to work together to alter the curriculum and pedagogy within their teaching practices.
Teacher collaboration, however, is a departure from existing norms, and, in most schools, teachers are colleagues in name only. They work out of sight and sound of one another, plan and prepare their lessons and materials alone, and struggle on their own to solve their instructional, curricular, and management problems.
To break the isolation of the classroom and bring career rewards and daily satisfactions, we have launched a group professional development project; a project in which teachers’ participation is important as it influences each other’s learning experiences in the group. Therefore, the way the teachers participate and interact with each other can be considered as an important factor of their own learning as well as the development of their group understands. In fact, some teachers play a significant role in helping the group move forward and make a pivotal contribution to the group. These teachers serve as key members by creating learning opportunities not only for themselves but also for the whole group.
By actively participating in the project, teachers, novice and experienced, utilize the project opportunities to develop their expertise of teaching even though they have different backgrounds, experiences, interests, and goals. Together they will be aware of their struggles, set a solid goal to improve their teaching, and want to resolve their teaching problems through the project.
Being an active participant in a professional development project for teachers, one will certainly feel ‘alive’, active problem solver, flexible teaching thinker, and reflective practitioner. Being an active participant, you will not only make your own learning opportunities maximize, but also provide opportunities for the group of the teachers to establish shared meanings about teaching and project pedagogy.
All in all, the teachers’ project provides opportunities to develop one’s expertise of teaching practices. It also produces greater coherence and integration to the daily work of teaching. Further, it equips individual teachers, groups of teachers, and their schools for steady improvement. In short, it helps to organize the school as an environment for learning to teach.
Little, J.W. (1987). Teachers as colleagues.
Little, J.W. (1990, Summer). The persistence of privacy: Autonomy and initiative in teachers’ professional relations.
Schmidt, B.J. (1992, October). Collaborative efforts
There are famous sayings that “Many hands make light work”, “Two hands clap; one does not”, and “ Two heads are better than one head”…
The essence of these statements is that more can be achieved collectively rather than individually.
We, as mentors and advisers of English of Oran, still believe strongly in the importance and the valuable roles of group work. It has become a common feature in EFL classes since it provides opportunities to better the teaching / learning process.
In this article, we try to advise our fellow teachers to think of this way of working and keep on implementing it with their students in class and among themselves in the Teachers Project Pedagogy which was launched last year.
This belief is shared by many specialists in EFL, ESTand ELT because group / team work leads to Project Based Learning that provides opportunities for teachers to collaborate on tasks to solve challenges and problems .It involves academic learning and builds social skills. The group members learn to listen to others, communicate their ideas and feel comfortable participating in group situations. Groupwork aims to cater for individual differences, develop the learners’ knowledge, generic skills (eg.communicative skills collaborative skills…)
The participants collaborate and share ideas. They gain confidence and overcome fear. Cooperation is a life skill. The learners listen to each other. They have fun. They exchange thoughts and ideas. They see and respect others’ points of view. They improve their social and problem-solving abilities.
Cooperative learning builds enthusiasm and a sense of responsibility .It is a motivational strategy that includes all learning situations where the learners work in groups to accomplish particular learning objectives and are interdependent for successful objectives.“Groupwork is a positive motivator for the teachers’ population because it enhances their self-esteem which motivates them to participate in the learning process.” (Johnson 1989).
“Learners help each other and in doing so build a supportive community which raises the performance level of each member.”(Kagan 1986).
“Teachers often mention that they are having problems / difficulties related to work / family…. Openings like this can lead to a discussion of those problems in a non-threatening way due to the informality of the situation.”(Kessler & Mc Cleod, 1985)
Lines of communication are opened and actively encouraged .The team members know how to work well together and demonstrate their abilities through a variety of assessment methods.
“Group work is learner-centered. It develops the spirit of cooperation and a sense of community which is based on an optimism that assumes that the human being can be helped to grow and to change.”(Tom Song)
Group work establishes a purposeful relationship between the group members .It enables them to involve themselves in the process of problem solving. It is a genuine acceptance of each individual with his strengths and weaknesses.
Group work helps distributing the workload, reinforcing individual capabilities, creating participation and involvement, making better decisions, generating a diversity of ideas and opinions and finally learning from each other experiences.
All in all, the teacher’s career is a life long learning .It is an ongoing professional development. Peer class observations, group / team work activities are factors that not only prove resourceful to the progress of the teacher‘s self long learning process, but reinforce relationships and solidarity among the teachers of the same school in particular and among the others in the whole area in general.
At last, we would like to inform the reader that almost all the written productions on group / team / cooperative work have focused on its positive and only positive aspects except some weakness: noise at work, time consuming and the use of the mother tongue. These weak points can be controlled and avoided if the learners want very much to.
We are looking forward to accompanying our fellow teachers to step forward from the group work present phase to the workgroup ideal stage.
Mr.M.Louznadji & Mr.D.Djellouli
Inspectors of National Education
– Barkley,E.F. ,Cross ,K.P.,1& Major,C.M (2005):
Collaborative Learning Techniques
– Cooper,J.L ,& Mueck,R. (1990 ):
Cooperative Learning and College Instruction
The Journal on Excellence in College Teaching
On Tuesday, March 16th, 2010, the second Teachers Project was presented by Kasdi Merbah High School Team under the supervision of Mr.D.Djelouli; 30 teachers attended the project on ‘Group Work Management”
We were guided right from the beginning and involved in the project work; the presentation room had been organized in a way that facilitated our grouping with a list of names on each table and the limited number of chairs. The walls were also decorated with traffic light posters that clearly meant classroom rules.
In order to brainstorm the topic of the project and go deeper, we were invited to watch and reflect on a video about different tasks performed in groups. Then all along the presentation of the project we worked in pairs and groups while learning to manage group works, so we tackled six key elements as follows:
1. Steps of setting students into groups
2. Types of student groups
3. Objectives of group work
4. Challenges of group work and suggested solutions
5. Steps to conduct a project work
6. Instructional Vs Learning Strategies
The tasks were varied and interesting as they enhanced problem solving situations, team work and critical thinking.
The wrap up phase was planned and performed in a form of acrostic poems about group work and the project presentation
Miss.C.Boukhiar **Miss.N.Azzaz ** Mrs.N.Zamamouche
Communicating effectively in the target language is of paramount importance for contemporary EFL teachers in Algeria. It is one of the main concerns as it pertains to students’ performance and well doing in class, in exam situations and in real-life contexts into the bargain. “Students respond well if they possess the right tools of communicating their ideas”, most teachers claim. Teachers also keep claiming that if they knew about the latest brain findings and how learners scaffold their learning styles, they would be more prepared to handle things in class and be the harbinger of effective communication among those young speakers of the language in question. Ranging from class, to exam or even extra-curricular contexts, teachers need to foster students’ communicative skills through ways that go far beyond a mere focus on accuracy or fluency accordingly, English being simply a tool.
Help teachers :
1) Identify and categorize learning needs among EFL students
2) Interpret related brain findings and academic research and literature and bringing about teachers’ schemata into real practice
3) Respond appropriately to students’ diverse learning styles
4) Provide strategies to deal with communication situations in class
5) Foster students’ communicative skills and help them manage effective ways of conveying messages within social contexts.
6) Design appropriate assessment tools for students’ oral skills performance.
To handle the topic in question, the team deemed it crucial to conduct a survey with teachers of English to get further data as to the latter’s need to deal with communication problems. The survey consists of two main parts, the first one being “interviews with teachers”, the second one “reporting findings”. Interpreting the survey results would next help the team figure out teachers’ schemata about the topic as well as their conception of possible resolutions. Reflecting upon a case study prior to some experts’ assumptions would also instill the audience’s inquisitiveness to share experience and feedback about the raised topic. Right after that, three full-time sessions will be suggested, presented and debated. Assessing the workshop through a suggested assessment grid will culminate in a short feedback after which part the workshop will come to its end.
1) ICTs room
2) slide show projector
4) audio and video scripts
5) chart paper
6) drawing material
Team’s reflection after their project presentation
Miss Nassima Azzaz:
Going through this experience, I have recognized so many things I didn’t consider before in my teaching and in my dealing with my students in class. Though I have always tried to raise my students’ motivation in designing the different tasks in my lesson plan and in selecting the relevant teaching material, I always felt there was something missing there. Most of the time, the aims were achieved to a certain extent but not with all pupils. i.e. not all of them were always involved in practising the language effectively, particularly with slow-learners-classes.
Taking part in this project, however, helped me a lot to see things from a different perspective. Firstly, varying teaching strategies is a key element to maximize learning and to get all types of learners communicate in the target language. Secondly, resorting to skills other than linguistic ones, such as body language and facial expressions to compensate pp’s weaknesses and deficiencies in communication is an effective way to overcome shyness and to trigger out students’ potentials. Finally, learners respond more appropriately in L2 when led through a certain motivating context which is designed to be explored for linguistic outcomes.
Mrs Nawel Zamamouche:
It was such an enjoyable and an interesting experience I had with my wonderful colleagues. Personally I learned a lot of things through the preparation of our project. Indeed, I got more experience because it is the first time I present something in front of an audience. It’s really motivating to be engaged in such a work. This will help me a lot in my teaching career, i.e. I mean in varying my strategies and my techniques. Moreover, I recognized that our learners, especially the weaker ones, can use other alternatives as body language, facial expressions and gestures in case they don’t find words. In such a way, they will be interested and can express themselves in different ways; so they communicate effectively
Miss C. Boukhiar:
Taking part in this project, I was granted a unique opportunity at learning a lot more about EFL students’ learning strategies and how it is possible they can transfer and incorporate communication skills and strategies they have for long acquired via their mother tongue into the learning process of a foreign language like English. In fact, studies have shown that learners of a foreign language already possess skills of conveying messages through non-verbal communication skills. The latter would help EFL teachers redeem failure and strain at communicating messages via words only, an approach I have for long believed is the harbinger of triggering learners’ linguistic competencies in a particular language. Making use of such findings has added a lot to my conception of competency-based learning and how effective teaching might be if teachers went far beyond their belief in being mere teachers of a language. This assumption has allowed me pay more attention to my students’ way of interacting in class instead of focusing on the language they come to practise. Indeed, I no longer see complete evidence in what my students say; instead I rather consider how they say that and how effective that is on the audience around them. In short, I think it is high time I started learning from my silent students instead of bothering myself at deciphering the humming tunes hovering high above my ears.
1) Judith Dodge, Differentiation in Action, 2005.
2) Jennifer Barton, Paul Heilker, and David Rutkowski, Fostering Effective Classroom Discussions, English Department Virginia Tech
3) Harada Taoka, Use of Communication Strategies by EFL learners in a Japanese University, , 2009.
4) Rolf Palmberg, Vocabulary awareness activities for EFL learners, University, Vaasa- Finland, March 2005
5) Jane King, Preparing EFL Learners for Oral Presentations, July 2002.
| Teachers Feedback
1. It is very interesting. We have learnt new techniques which may be used with our students. It has enriched our way of teaching.
2. I appreciate the project in the sense that they managed to deal with techniques related to the three levels. Congratulations.
3. The project was well prepared. It will help us in changing our way of teaching; looking for other materials as the use of appropriate videos can lead to a better learning.
4. Interesting and very helpful; techniques easy to handle in class. Thanks for such contribution.
5. It is really good, motivating and helpful. Congratulations.
6. Big efforts were done to motivate learners. ICTs are very well-used and help a lot both in the project presentation and in teaching.
7. The project was successful. It helps me not to stick anymore to the official textbook. I discover new and easy techniques. I like very much the team spirit. Thank you very much for the excellent work.
8.The project was really interesting. It motivates me to improve my teaching techniques.
9. I find it helpful, practical, very interesting and motivating. It’s a very good project. Thank you so much.
10. It’s a good project. The teachers showed a remarkable intelligence and logic in dealing with the topic they have chosen. They have a scientific spirit! I like the work. Thanks a lot and carry on.
11. The project was carefully-organized and well-presented. It seems to me that it is a real group who has a great sense of collaboration. It helps a lot through its attractive tasks and feasible techniques. Thanks to the group for their great efforts.
12. It’s really well-presented, well-done. It shows the group’s high technological skills and team work. This project will certainly help us enhance communication skills in our classrooms.
13. The project was well-prepared. They really did a good job, and I feel that we learnt something good in language learning and communication strategies. Thanks a lot. M. Normach
14. We appreciate the efforts of the team. We feel inspired and motivated to use these techniques in our classrooms.
15. The project was well-presented and motivating.
16. It was really an impressive project.
17. The project is realistic. With efforts and serious work, the teachers managed to motivate the learners and got the objectives assigned ( videos).
18. I would like to thank all the group for their valuable work. I like it very much. They did their best to make it clear for us. The way they presented demonstrated how well collaboration works. So thank you.
19. I feel I learnt a lot today, and I will do my best to use what I have learnt to enhance my students’ communication skills.
20. Great work! Congratulations.
21. I really felt happy and concerned with all the techniques suggested.
22. I like the project very much. The ICTs were very motivating.
Hammou Boutlelis Team
Since September 2009, we have been engaged in the Teachers Project Pedagogy, the newly implemented approach in the Teachers Professional Development. Such a new initiative requires collaboration, critical thinking and team decision. So after intensive collegial meetings on the project of “Using Thematic Songs in EFL Classes” we ended up with a presentation on Sunday, May 09th, 2010.
Our presentation was launched once teachers had started to arrive. We welcomed them in the school library as we handed them pre-assessment sheets to get ready for the planned tasks. Once pre-assessment sheets were completed and collected, we had brief discussion to lead the audience to the reason of our choice to such a project.
The diagnostic assessment task revealed that 50% of the present teachers sometimes use songs, 30 % rarely use them, and 20% have never used songs in their classes. So, to make the audience feel relaxed, we presented six suggested techniques using six different songs on different themes for the three levels in secondary education.
Through interactive task-based instructions implemented in the different skills, we dealt with global issues such as: Human Rights, Inventions and Discoveries, Media and Leadership, Feelings and Emotions as well as an environmental issue, Rainforest.
As our tasks were planned and divided right from the beginning, we had a smooth presentation till we reached the wrap up through a Carousel Technique in which the audience completed posters in group summarizing the Reasons, Criteria, Tips and Techniques for Using Songs in EFL Classes from the suggested techniques we had presented.
Finally the audience gave very positive comments our project both orally and in writing through the feedback forms.
Our project would not have been achieved without the collaboration of all the team members, the school staff and our students. We are also grateful to our supervisor Mr M.Louznadji and the guest teachers who accepted our invitation to the preliminary presentation of our project and who provided us with their constructive feedback as follows:
Dear colleagues, we are really proud that we could be up to the standards and our project has left a positive effect on you. While working on our project, we applied most of the techniques in our classes and we would be pleased to share with you our students’ feedback on our use of songs in our classes.
First, I would like to start with a wise statement my inspector of English, Mr.Louznadji once told me: “Experience is not the number of years one has achieved but what s/he has learnt and taught through all these years. »Teaching under the supervision of such people is a real blessing for both teachers and learners.
When we were asked to choose a topic for our project pedagogy, we were puzzled and a bit lost as we hesitated a lot. Then we started thinking seriously how to make things work. We got inspired when we were talking about our students’ feelings and attitudes when learning English. At that very moment, we could figure out all their unspoken words, their hidden feelings and anxieties. All these lead us to work on” Motivating Learners in EFL Classes “; in fact our students were and are our source of motivation!
I was always inspired by my teachers who took my hand and lead me to this wonderful world of teaching. With those great people, I learnt that teaching is not merely to have control over the class, teach grammar rules, vocabulary, comprehension and writing, but rather collaboration with administrators, colleagues and most of all students. This isn’t a teacher thing but a human thing.
I still remember the impact I had when I came across Neil Postman’s quote:”Children enter schools as question marks and leave schools as periods.” I was so scared to be involved in such a passive learning and teaching environment. From that moment I knew it was all up to me , so I decided to make a step towards a more creative , enthusiastic and friendly atmosphere in my classes.
From our project, we learnt to invest more energy than before and create mindful conditions that provide opportunities to more work and love to work.
As teachers we are mostly worried about how to cope with the syllabus, how to get good results and many other “hows and whys”. However, we ought to be more concerned how to motivate students to learn English as a foreign language in a free anxiety environment. Certainly this is not an easy task. It requires patience, sacrifice, ambitions, love and above all hopes for a brighter tomorrow .Yes; hope to carry on in this sacred journey and noble task of teaching.
We are faced with serious challenges as never before to make the learning experience a positive one and to make our students learn in a motivating environment. Transforming our classes into real life setting is to provide students with appropriate communication tools. It is our duty to make them thirsty for knowledge and understand the way to acquire English as a key of that knowledge.
I have the firm belief that miracles exist and we can be part of these miracles. It is never late to make a change in the way we teach, just give it a try. Why not turn our classes in small communities that express love and appreciation for liberty, freedom and democracy? It’s high time to cultivate our future citizens.”Education is simply the soul of a society as it passes from one generation to another.”
For those who supported us in our work, we say: “God bless you”.
Special thanks to my colleague Mrs Soraya Khobstane
And Gratitude to
-Mr.Louznadji,Inspector of English
-Mr.N.Berrehal,Head of Department of French ,
– Mr.K.Touhami, our Headteacher
– Mrs.Bouhana Mhalla, principal’s secretary (Hassi Bounif H.School)
Bekkai Mohamed High School
Hassi Bounif, Oran
The team of Zabana High School , Arzew, presented Project work on
March 13th, 2011, and it was about ICT integration in EFL classes.
The opening session was held by Mr Mennad, the head teacher and Mr Louznadji, Inspector of National Education. The team started their presentation by an ‘ice breaker’ which was a group work task , teachers filled in a table with notes about what can help or hinder ICT use in education according to six given factors. There was a big debate about how far the head teachers can be helpful in order to use ICTs class.
The ‘ice breaker’ was followed by brief information about the Algerian government’s project aiming at improving and information-based society while introducing the ICT use in many fields including education.
Then, the team showed a video of interviews with the headteacher and the head of studies of Zabana High School. That gave the opportunity to the teachers attending to talk again about their headteachers’ attitudes towards ICT use in their schools.
The team also presented the findings of a survey that was done with teachers of English from different high schools in Oran. The audience was expecting some of the results, but were surprised at others, that’s why some comments and discussions followed the questions of the survey.
The following point was a course presentation with ICTs: the participants watched a video and completed a dialogue while listening. The correction then was done by watching the same video with subtitles and they checked their answers.
As the project dealt with ICTs integration in education, the team found it necessary to show a video of two classes with the same students; the first one was given with ICTs while the second was without ICTs. The task was ‘Watch and Comment’ and, of course, it was followed by the audience comments which varied from one to another.
After that, it was time to discover the students’ reactions towards ICT use; the team presented the findings of a survey with students from different high schools. Most of them agreed that audio-visual aids make them more interested, relaxed and motivated while learning.
Finally the presentation ended by videos of students’ projects that were presented using the ICTs differently.
The guests found the content of the teachers’ project interesting, satisfying and inspiring.
By Zabana High School Teachers
In September 2009, Mr.Louznadji wrote : « Being an active participant in a professional development project for teachers, one will certainly feel ‘alive’, active problem solver, flexible teaching thinker, and reflective practitioner. Being an active participant, you will not only make your own learning opportunities maximize, but also provide opportunities for the group of the teachers to establish shared meanings about teaching practices and project pedagogy. »
By the end of the school year 2009-2010, I said : « The Teachers Project Pedagogy has enhanced team spirit, collaboration and social skills in addition to the development of our professional competences. »
Today, and after attending the project presentation of Hirech Mohamed High School team, I would say that : « Teachers Project Pedagogy promotes lifelong learning ». It was a great pleasure to learn about the ‘Biodiversity’ issue from Mrs.Belhachemi, Mrs.Benferhat and Mrs.Benyagoub who have been teaching for more that 25 years, and also from Mrs.Merabet, the substitute teacher.
Though the Teachers Project Pedagogy was launched three years ago, the four educators were committed to work in collaboration and realized their project of « Suggested Techniques to Teach the Biodiversity Issue » effectively. They really ‘provided great opportunities’ for the audience composed of teacher trainees in the wilaya of Oran.
The team demonstrated professionalism as the project work dealt with a second year teaching unit. It was equally divided between the team members; the presentation parts were balanced, well-timed and well-managed. As for the teaching material, the textbook was properly used with the implementation of the Competency Based Approach and ICT integration. Autonomy and creativity from the team members enhanced the quality of the project presentation.
As the audience was mainly composed of novice and trainee teachers, great benefits were taken from such a project about Biodiversity realized by experienced teachers. The participants learned a lot and were given an assignement which includes designing a unit plan based on the unit presented. This assignement is to make them aware of the necessity of planning and the autonomy in designing schemes of work.
The project presentation ended with feedback from participants, the team, guests and the supervisors. Before closing this teacher project presentation, ‘Certificates of Appreciation’ were offered by Mr. Louznadji to the four teachers for their devotion, quality presentation and contribution to the training of the teacher trainees.
With new hopes and expectations, I would end this report with Mrs.Belhachemi’s quote: « To stop giving is to stop living!».
April 24th, 2012.
*Mrs.Belhachemi * Mrs.Merabet * Mrs.Benferhat * Mrs.Benyagoub*
Since the educational reform, the teachers of English in Oran have been involved in many professional development activities, some of us were trainers under the supervision of our Inspectors of National Education, yet we have all been totally involved in Teacher Education as we have been considered as the most important factors of change within the reform.
But this year has been a unique experience as we have been contributing to our own professional development within our school team. We have been engaged in the Teachers Project Pedagogy which has proved to be effective, though just 4 out of 30 projects have been completed and presented, while many others are in the waiting list for next school year. Yet all the teachers who attended one of the four presentations acknowledged the benefits of this approach that has been initiated in Oran.
The Teachers Project Pedagogy has enhanced team spirit, collaboration and social skills in addition to the development of our professional competences. While working on the project, no team member can be excluded, no teacher is reluctant simply because no man is an island. We all care to be there for the whole team; we all care to share, we patiently build our project work during a number of meetings that gradually fill our timetable: we start by meeting once a month, then weekly, then daily, even weekends and holidays become the most joyful and fruitful meetings.
The closer the presentation day is, the more responsible the team feels. The team members are responsible for an audience who will attend as trainees for a half presentation day. The team members should assume responsibility in the technological, pedagogical and methodological fields. All along our project workshops, we have improved our existing knowledge in the aforementioned issues. At last, our projects are smoothly presented by the different members of the team. Not only did we feel relieve but we also experienced a special joy of outstanding achievements of creative and innovative teamwork.
Our supervisors launched the Teachers Project Pedagogy in September of 2009, and since then they haven’t imposed a deadline or a topic, but they provided us with their support and guidance. Though they didn’t intervene, except as observers in some of the workshops during the realization phase, they have been the source of our inspiration and this reminds me of the proverb that Mr Louznadji always repeats: “A successful teacher is the one who makes himself progressively unnecessary”. I also remember that since 2005, he has been encouraging us to exploit our existing capacities, but this year I believe he found out the most effective way to bring out the best of the whole community of Teachers of English.
On behalf of my colleagues I would like to express my gratitude to our supervisor Mr Louznadji through this modest gift.