Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Some Thoughts about Recent Workshops

Making workshops more custom-made and task-based by incorporating lesson planning strategies into the preparation process

I couldn't help talking too much when sharing teaching practices and promoting innovative strategies. Having accumulated loads of detailed lesson plans, my reflections, and videos in my blog, I tended to show off that I could speak English fluently and wanted so badly to prove my stuff worked in the classroom, while many other hotshot presenters only talked the talk. I satisfied my own needs, but at what cost?  

I've experimented with a new framework that engaged participants better and got my points across more effectively at recent workshops.  Based on the participants' response and feedback, I'm getting the hang of it and restoring confidence in myself.

1. Goal-oriented

Upon knowing the topic of a workshop, I would also ask the event planner what's the thinking behind the decision. Is it for a specific government-funded program? Do the teachers need to submit their lesson plans? Will they do a teaching demonstration afterward? The answers to those questions help me cater to teachers' real needs, instead of mainly bragging about my English blog posts.

2. The End Result

At the end of the workshop, teachers will produce end results that they can put into practice in their classroom. I especially like to include a big final task that participants have to work collaboratively and then present it orally. With this in mind, I get to stay focused and make sure that each activity is motivating and also contributing to the success of the desired result.

3. Task-based

Hands-on activities significantly increase people's attention span and interest in learning. Teachers don't get distracted or bored quickly by keeping them busy thinking, sharing, discussing with each other, and completing a task together. Moreover, activities work better if participants have to stand up, walk around, and talk to a different person with a given topic. On top of that,  being task-based can go hand in hand with lecturing because they tend to complement each other.
4. Connecting the Dots

I would envision my desired results first and then proceed to look for suitable tasks or activities. After completing all of them one by one, teachers will have no difficulty performing the most exciting task because each is facilitated by its previous one. You can also call it scaffolding if you like. For example, the activity, A Cup of Conversation, helped the teachers get ready to interview a native speaker during a Skype session. 

5. Live Demonstration

When sharing how to conduct Skype exchange sessions in the classroom, nothing works better than actually having a live video call with an English-speaker. The same goes for using apps or educational websites. For instance, getting teachers to take panoramic photos and do voice-overs engage teachers a lot more than merely talking about what I have done. 

In summary, we teachers are just like our students. We have different learning styles and get tired of lecturing quickly. We don't want to sit there quietly and listen to what the presenter has to say. It's boring and tiring. Moreover, everybody wants to learn in a fun way and gets better at teaching their students with a variety of teaching methods.

Honestly, it is still tempting to speak a lot of English and showcase my blog posts at workshops, which after all, is my trademark and sets me apart from others. I refrained from speaking too much English at HSJH, but to my surprise, two teachers actively shared their ideas and interacted with me in the language, which just made my day.

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