Briony Beaven explores the practice of telling stories of professional experience as a powerful form of development.

Date: 5 October 2016

Link to the recorded talk: http://britishcouncil.adobeconnect.com/p2627itvgoe/

Telling stories of professional experience can be a powerful form of development for teachers and teacher educators. It can help teachers to understand and make more informed decisions about their classroom practices. Teacher knowledge involves the interaction of theory with beliefs and experience, primarily about the daily reality of teachers’ lives, and does not, in the main, comprise the knowledge in academic texts, which for many teachers seems to have little relation to their teaching. Setting up teachers’ conversation or storytelling groups can provide the space, time and support for teachers to consider and present a shaped version of their classroom experiences. Such groups also function to build strong teacher communities or networks, raising commitment to teaching quality, and thus benefiting not only individual teachers but their educational institutions. 
 
In this talk I will sketch out the background to storytelling for teacher and teacher educator development, including clarifying the role of narrative in learning. I will illustrate how teachers and educators can create a collaborative learning space that links personal experiences of teaching and training to the realm of public knowledge. We will briefly survey ways of focusing teachers’ professional stories, for example thematising storytelling sessions, reframing stories and comparing the story of a feature film or novel in which the hero or heroine is a teacher with one’s own teaching story.
 
Finally, we will reflect on the objectives of the activities and their suitability to achieve their stated objectives, the potential effectiveness of the activities as learning opportunities and the appropriateness of the activities for the participants’ contexts.
 
About the speaker: 
 
Briony started her career teaching English in a British secondary state school. She is now an ELT consultant, teacher trainer, materials writer and teacher. She is the Delta Course Director for the Munich Adult Education Institute, and is also a CELTA Tutor and Assessor and a Delta Assessor. Briony is a NILE Associate Teacher Trainer, who has worked with teachers in many countries including the UK, Germany, Austria, Poland, Libya, Turkey, Russia and China, and who currently supervises students on the NILE MA course. In addition, she teaches Classroom Language to trainee teachers at the Ludwig-Maximilians University, Munich.

Briony has been the Co-ordinator of the Teacher Trainers’ and Educators’ Special Interest Group of IATEFL and Editor of IATEFL Conference Selections. She has presented at many international conferences including IATEFL Annual Conference, International House London Teacher Educators’ Conference and English Teaching Professional Conference. Briony has written coursebooks for Oxford University Press and for Cornelsen Verlag, and a teacher development course for the British Council China, as well as publishing in The Teacher Trainer, English Teaching Professional and Folio. Her ELT qualifications include the UCLES Dip. TEFL and a Doctorate of Education in TEFL.

 

Comments

I have taken some of today's talks and found in terms of this topic Briony Beaven has presented very interesting. What points interested me very much were:

1. Bringing some academic styles into your own classrooms for pupils and learners. When hearing this idea, I think the advanced educational pathway has been integrated with my own educational practices. Here, I want to share a story of my own. After taking my postgraduate study in UK, I also wanted to join some academic classroom-designs (my major is education research) with my daily piano-teaching and researching for children and young teenagers in community. In piano classroom, I divided my classes-organisations into diverse types including piano-studios, tutorials, small lectures, seminars, workshop and solo-parties in weekends. This is with my academic style learned from UK about education. Indeed, traditional piano teaching way, if put in community for children and young teenagers, is usually family-oriented, studio-oriented and face-to-face. However, I thought: when it came to solve some practical problems, usually, it wasn't always working well. When it came to some theoretical talks, usually a small lecture, and following, some assessment-tests would make children and young teenagers bring more ambitions and the senses of achievement - competition with others into musical learning - you knew, usually, musical theories are very boring to them. However, together learning and sharing with each other would motivate their make more comparisons and contrasts with each other in thinking about the effectiveness. This point will motivate their progress. Tutorials were usually arranged in the beginning of one student's piano-experiences or in the beginning of a stage (grades). Different student has different expectations in learning. Some students' aim of learning piano and music is focusing on personal competency and musicality's enhancement; some students' aim is focusing on getting the certificate of national grading test as their first training and professional proofs in life; meanwhile, some students' dream is pointing to the entrance of one musical college etc. They are quite different. Facing diverse situations, an interview-liked tutorial can help them identify what detailed stages and progresses they need to take. Their purposes will be identified much clearly with teachers' associations. Then, workshop was used when certain techniques and skills have some debates in history, or some techniques students all felt confused. Organising one workshop, in which piano-tutor (me) and they can together research both from practices and from documentary, video, some publications and examination-framework could help us together clarify things and make further progress further. In this case, I brought the academic style into daily practices and got some achievements. So that, academy isn't far from our daily teaching and learning. In my opinion, understanding the root of academy and research what we had learnt from academy and putting them into our working, volunteering, living and practising would be beneficial for our development, together with our students' growth.

2. In her talk, another point I felt very interested was about informal education in community for more practices - you knew, informal education in community can be compared with the sea - causing it was from life and serve life. It can also let a teacher encounter more different types of students. This is the future of worlds' educational development. Postmodernist regression, in education, finally needs to return back to where we are living for, how we are living for and what we are living for. In that tendency, informal and formal will be integrated together,
professionalisation higher-upon and life-practices near commons will be integrated together, and working and academy will be integrated together. Indeed, they are in one root but growing as different branches. In that time, all commons will be good-educated and high-qualified with all abilities as experts did in their own life; and education's functions will be enlarged to their max for all. This will be first beginning from fine arts, just because its' creative sparkles are all from commons' life stories and composers' life stories as commons. Here, I would like to say more: Based on my knowledge background, Trinity Royal Academy of music in UK was the first institution who understand this developing tendency, then they pushed out a grading test system, finally was followed by places all around the worlds, which all-inclusively integrated the societal power, family-power and academy-power together in a whole system for a more shared public environment to grow 'art' tree. Indeed, it's final purpose should be to serve public and commons' widely choices for young generations' development, rather than making some 'nobles'. Then, the popularisation of fine arts and its real joyfulness could be possible. based on the reasoning above regarding with my story, community’s teaching and learning also need professional educational trainings, like somewhat the type in today's conference; and informal and fork 'sea' is pregnant with much professional expertise for future - these two tendencies in future would be made a testimony.

3. Thirdly, we discussed together about how to use stories make our own classroom more attractive to children and young teenagers. Here, I would like to share a story of myself:
When teaching a sonatina - from Allegro (Op. 55, No. 5) to my children, I self-made a forest-animals' story for motivating their imaginations. You knew, to children, playing a huge sonatina is very difficult. If you don't make up a story, you will feel very hard to think more visions for making it expressive. Then, according to dynamics levels of this melody, we divided it to several parts, together made a story about hunting in a forest: some parts were about hunting dog and rabbit's play-game, some parts were about rocket flying to moon and goddess Chang'e's beauties, some parts were about tiger and leopard's running happily, and some parts were about fox's dancing. You knew, after together making these pictures with imaginations, children will easily get the ideas about music and a boring task would be vivid for learning. In my opinion, this is the power of story-telling as one educational technique in classroom.

4. Finally, I want to say something about the relationship between language-teaching and certain subject’s knowledge-teaching. In my opinion, in educational perspective, language-teaching can never make the departure with certain subject's teaching. The final purposes of some courses were all about letting students understand some points of knowledge, some techniques or some skills. Oppositely, mainly because of the demands of language from certain subjects or from the most advanced researching tendencies have been pushed out, then language can be sustainably developed to target these demands vividly. In some classrooms - English as bilingual language for knowledge-teaching such as in normal classrooms of China, on the primary level, children's English hasn't been developed very well. Then, English words, can be put as the highlighting glossary (some key words) to emphasise some knowledge-points firstly. Secondly, waiting students' vocabulary, grammar, sentences-organizing feeling and rhythmic senses have been developed well, English can be put as some translations for students bilingual thinking patterns' development (of both). Finally, a whole English class about certain subject can be present without the supports from mother tongue, in the field which students are very familiar with the knowledge of this subject. Here, I think teachers, ourselves, could have a plan. (As CPD stated, it's according to students' age, personality...) Step by step, (from key terms to phrases, then whole paragraphs) their language potentials would be motivated out naturally.

Thanks for learning and researching according to the contents of today's conference.
Oh, it's too later today, here. Best wishes to tomorrow!

A teacher learner named Jason O(∩_∩)O~

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