This year, I have had the most intellectually rewarding, and emotionally satisfying, school-based teaching project in my 27 years of professional career in teacher education and development. This project has finished, but as I don’t want to convey a sense of closure, I will describe what happened in the present tenses.
This is a school-based English Enhancement Grant project, the aim of which is to further enhance the speaking proficiency of the school’s P4 and P5 students. The speaking programme developed consists of two components: ‘Guided Speaking’, and ‘Oral Enrichment’. The Guided Speaking component aims to develop students accuracy (grammar and pronunciation), fluency, and appropriacy (when to say what). It targets specific speaking skills such as how to show disagreement; how to ask for clarification, how to suggest alternative actions, etc. The Oral Enrichment component aims to heighten students’ interest in speaking, and to develop students’ potential and talent in speaking as a performing art. It includes a range of fun-based and performance-oriented activities such as communication games, classroom drama, reader’s theatre, jazz chants, ELT rap, choral speaking, songs, etc.
As the project consultant, I, together with the 10 teachers involved, have been designing the various teaching and learning activities, meeting frequently with the teachers, running workshops, and co-teaching with the 10 teachers. This has been the most intensive and rigorous school-based project in my professional career, but I have enjoyed every minute of it. Why?
First, the teachers are experienced in teaching English. They already have a lot of teaching ideas and experience to bring to the project.
Second, they are already highly interested and enthusiastic in the teaching of English. They care about good teaching. Even without the project, they would still be constantly looking for more creative ways to liven up their teaching.
Third, the teachers have a very high level of professionalism, so that in spite of their already superb teaching quality, they will strive for further excellence in teaching.
Fourth, they are truly concerned about students’ learning, not just their exam scores, but how well the students are learning English.
Fifth, they love their students.
Now, you understand why I have enjoyed every minute of this consultancy. I still remember vividly the many lively and useful meetings (sometimes two meetings a week) I have had with the teachers, the active participation of the teachers during workshops, and the 20 enjoyable and effective (most of them) lessons that I have co-taught with the 10 teachers involved.
Leading school-based teaching projects has its challenges. Very often, internal politics, conflicts between colleagues, teachers’ lack of readiness, a project being imposed from the top, a school culture which does not value good teaching …… just one of these factors is already enough to play havoc with a teaching project. But the 5 attributes I have identified above about the teachers are overpowering enough to bring success to the project.
I thank the wonderful English Language teachers at Sacred Heart Canossian School, from the bottom of my heart. You are so professional, that you are a constant source of inspiration to me. You are so easy and pleasant and fun to work with, that you have added many delightful hours for me to reminisce about in the years to come. Your students are so lucky to have you as their English teachers.