Do you still uphold ELT as a profession? I asked my teacher-students …

Last Wednesday, when I had finalized my plan for
the Thursday evening class, I was suddenly struck by a thought: The students in
the Thursday evening group are all teachers. They’re witnessing, and
experiencing, what real-life teaching is like. So, am I wasting their time if
there is no way they can apply the teaching methodology that they’re learning
from the course in their day-to-day teaching? Are they simply putting up with
the methodology course, because they have to pass it to get the teacher
education certificate? Are they simply putting up with me out of kindness? How
do they view their work as English language teachers?

I suddenly felt a strong urge to find out, and I
made a last-minute revision to my plan for the Thursday evening class, by
adding in a last activity which had nothing to do with the topic for that
session.

The next evening, I worked them through my original
plan, at a faster pace, so as to leave the last 15 minutes for my additional
activity. I first asked them to read my previous blog entry, to set the scene.
I then asked them to respond to the following statement on a 7-point scale
(7=agree strongly; 1=disagree strongly), based on their own view:

ELT is a profession. 

Then, I asked them to respond to another statement,
based on their observation and experience at their teaching school:

ELT is practiced professionally in my school.  

I then put them into groups of four. I gave each
group a tasksheet. One side was headed “ELT is a profession”; the other side
was headed “ELT is practiced professionally”. I gave each group a stamper, for
each teacher in a group to indicate their response to the two questions by
stamping both sides of the tasksheet, four times for a 4 response, and so on. I
then gave them 10 minutes to talk freely to elaborate on their responses to the
two questions.

I collected the completed tasksheets from the
various groups, and put them on the board, first showing the stamps for the
Second Statement: ELT is practiced professionally in my school. We counted the
stamps together and arrived at the average rating, which was 3.45. (This was a
7-point scale; the median rating would be 4.)

Then came the exciting moment. Whatever their
evaluation of the ‘reality’, deep down, did they uphold ELT as a profession?

We turned over the tasksheets on the board, counted
the number of stamps for “ELT is a profession”, and worked out the average rating, which was 6.13. (The  highest rating would be 7.)

I breathed a sigh of relief. Although if the second figure was discouraging, I would still respect their opinion. I would only try to find out the reasons behind their lack of confidence in ELT as a profession. But of course, their response was what I had secretly wanted to see.

I wrapped up the session with two remarks, half-jokingly: “The
results show that, A, you folks are still young, and B, there is still hope.”

*****

On my way home that night, my mind kept saying: I’m
so proud of my ‘students’.

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