My Experience of 8th International SLELTA Conference: Drama, Stories, Co-teaching, and More
*Chandani Pant Bhatt
In October 2014, I got a great opportunity to attend a three-day International Conference in Colombo, Sri Lanka. It was the 8th International SLELTA Conference where many national and international delegates of English Language from different countries of the world participated. It was a wonderful chance for me to meet different national and international participants in the conference, delegates from many different countries, for the first time away from my hometown. The main aim of my workshop was to show the best way of teaching stories through dramatization, and to demonstrate and discuss Co-Teaching. For this I gave a two-part of the presentation in the one workshop, in which, with the help of my co-teacher, I presented an exemplary drama. Later, in the second half, I presented my findings about the co-teaching concept which I had utilized in the first part. This article is the outline of my experience in Colombo and sharing about what I did in the workshop.
Stories and Drama: Effective Teaching Learning Tools
Stories are one of the best ways to teach language; students learn better by seeing and experiencing than simply reading and listening. The presentation started with collecting participants’ techniques of teaching stories in their classes. Then, with a co-teacher, I presented one story using a drama technique in which its dialogue and characters were developed. The presentation started with the collection of the participants’ responses on how they teach stories in the classroom. Then, their responses were collected in a leaflet. After that, they were shown a video recorded in the class at Access Center in Kanchanpur. The video was a dramatized form of the story that students acted out in the classroom according to teachers’ instruction. The participants were asked some comprehension questions based on the story.
In the second part of this presentation, the participants were divided into different groups. Each group was given a separate story and they were instructed to develop the dialogue and the respective roles they should take in the drama. The other participants were asked some comprehension questions based on their performance. Then two of the groups were asked to perform the drama in the classroom and the rest were to watch and answer the comprehension questions. The acting in the classroom went very well. I appreciated the way the participants took part in the drama.
Co-Teaching: A Great Teaching Learning Opportunity
Co-teaching is a good participation between two teachers having the same professional level. It is an opportunity to be with the students who have different abilities or to teach in a heterogeneous class. As co-teaching is different than our normal classes in the school so, it is a challenge to get the environment of co-teaching in the normal classes, where one teacher teaches. At the same time it is a way to promote students to get opportunities to be with the learning process in the larger world. Co-teachers make the students interact with their friends for learning with the concept of “learning by doing” to reduce their learning disabilities by facilitating, guiding, and monitoring in the class. It is also a wonderful opportunity for the teachers to promote one another’s knowledge, to have unity, to create mutual support, and to have ‘We-feeling’ while in the class.
On the other hand, sometimes co-teaching can create problems in the class when one teacher teaches and another teacher remains passive or only works with the less-able students. Similarly, problems arise if the general teacher gives more attention only to the active student and promotes him/her only, or personally gives more care to the students with disabilities. And one more thing to remember: if co-teachers don’t make lesson plans before the class then it might create problems for the students to go through two different people’s concepts at the same time in the class. Similarly, there should be feeling of cooperation and contributing while planning.
I also spread light upon the points that in order to become ideal co-teachers, there should be mutual trust to share teacher knowledge and materials in the classroom; they should know each other and their backgrounds. While making lesson plans and dividing their roles to perform in the class, both teachers should listen to each other, try to understand each other’s perspective and know each other’s comfort zones for performing. In this way, the class will run smoothly and effectively.
The presenter put forward some challenges teachers can face during the co-teaching process, like between the two, who will plan the lesson? Who will control the classroom behavior, and who will present the lesson? and many more. Similarly, collaborative partnership is at risk if teachers cannot manage time for making lesson plans and if they don’t take their responsibilities seriously. Both teachers should get to know each other closely to learn about their expertise, creativity, and be familiar with their areas of interest.
By utilizing drama presentations, story-telling techniques, and co-teaching principles, teaching learning can be uplifted and made more exciting for teachers and students alike. It was a pleasure to share these ideas with the audience in Colombo for our collective professional development. Furthermore, my attendance at the international conference helped me a lot in my journey into professional development.
(*Chandani Pant Bhatt is an instructor of English Access Microscholarship Program, Nepal who has been working in Kanchanpur Access center since 2013. Besides, she has more than 7 years experience of teaching English as a foreign language in secondary and undergraduate level in Nepal.)