Professional Development Weekend – Hosted by MY English School – Featuring Michael Griffin

MY English School is hosting a two-day professional development weekend with featured guest Michael Griffin on October 18-19. Both days of the event are free and open to the public.

Anyone wishing to stay overnight at the hotel and onsen is welcome to join us for the opportunity to interact with the presenter and other attendees in a more relaxed setting. The deadline for a hotel & dinner banquet reservation is October 11. Please contact Chris Saunders regarding reservations and details.

Event Speaker: Michael Griffin

Session Topics:

  • Practicing Reflection
  • (Re)considering “bad teaching practices”
  • Behavioral Economics

When :

Friday, October 18th, 2pm – 5pm

  • Behavioral Economics

Saturday, October 19th, 10am – 5pm

  • (Re)considering “bad teaching practices
  • Practicing Reflection.

Where: Zao Onsen, Forest Inn Sangoro
〒990-0017 Yamagata, Kamihozawa, 不動上国有林28
https://goo.gl/maps/e2oQxusYiM7HdcrRA

Driving Directions:

https://goo.gl/maps/bn65uD156ZpvJnkdA

Contact or questions: Chris Saunders
saunders@myeigo.com

Event Theme: Professional Development

Admission: Free for everyone

Overnight Cost: 10,000 yen, including: Nomihoudai Dinner, Breakfast, Hotel room.

Abstracts:

Practicing Reflection: Reflective Practice is something of a buzzword in ELT. “What does it mean, and how do we do it?” are two very reasonable questions. Reflective Practice seems to mean different things to different people, though most agree it’s important and useful. In this interactive session, we will broadly define the term and think about what it means to us before diving into activities that will offer hands-on practice reflecting. Through this practice participants will find ways to include reflection as a pillar of their own teaching. This session will offer guidance, tips, questions to consider, feedback, and strategies for becoming a (more) reflective practitioner. There will also be a great deal of practice.  Through practicing reflection in a guided way and learning strategies and techniques for further reflection, participants will become more comfortable and skillful reflecting on their own in their regular work.

(Re)considering “bad teaching practices: There is no shortage of received wisdom about what the “bad” teaching practices are in EFL. Training courses, conferences, workshops, and colleagues are common sources to learn what’s “bad” and should thus be avoided. Chances to step back and consider why this is so are not as common. Many teachers internalize the “rules” about these “bad” practices but don’t examine specific cases and contexts were these practices might not be so bad. In this interactive workshop, participants will be asked to consider the potential positives of widely-known and negatively-viewed teaching practices. Ideas and assumptions about what constitutes “bad” teaching will be challenged, and participants can expect to walk away with a clearer idea of their own beliefs on common and commonly mentioned practices.

Behavioral Economics: Are there things Kahneman, Thaler, Harford, and Levitt can teach us about English language teaching that Thornbury, Nation, Graves, and Ur cannot? What can insights can behavioral economics provide to English teachers?  In this interactive workshop, the world of Behavioral Economics will be connected to the world of English Language Teaching. Prominent and accessible theories from the field of Behavioral Economics, like the endowment effect, sunk-cost fallacy, endowment theory, and loss aversion, will be applied to English teaching. Questions about how such theories can be applied will be raised and considered. Participants can expect to walk away with insights from Behavioral Economics and new ways of framing and attempting to work through challenges they encounter in the world of English language teaching.

About the speaker:

Michael Griffin has been involved with English teaching for 20 years. He has worked as a teacher, teacher trainer, trainer-trainer, curriculum developer, substitute teacher, assistant director, and mentor. Intercultural awareness, world Englishes, curriculum development, alternative ways of teacher development, and reflective practice are some of his main interests. Currently, Michael works online with the New School’s MATESOL program and for World Learning on American English E-Teacher courses sponsored by the US Department of State.  He blogs at http://eltrantsreviewsreflections.wordpress.com.

Hotel Website:

http://www.sangoro.co.jp/index.html/

Photos of the hotel and venue:

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MY Training Day with Lesley Ito

Teachers talking together about teaching is one of the highest impact practices schools can use to boost student learning.  We become better teachers when we reflect and share ideas.  Since I started at MY, MY has annually set aside a number of days when we close all of our schools and gather for training.  Over the years, we’ve experienced some fantastic, memorable sessions that I’ve learned from immensely and that have changed the way we teach at MY.  But it’s easy to become insular if we’re always talking among ourselves, so, this year, we are branching out and inviting outside speakers to two of our training days.

Our first outside speaker this year, Lesley Ito, visited
MY this past weekend.  Lesley is a school
owner in Nagoya and has been active in publishing and presenting around Japan
for many years.  On Saturday afternoon,
she presented two sessions:  Teaching Grammar to Children and Extensive Reading for Young Children.

I deeply enjoy conference sessions where the speaker is a
couple years ahead of me in identifying and working out a problem.  In the first session, Lesley shared some of
her research into how children learn grammar and react to error
correction.   MY’s students check their
own homework, after which teachers check, which has many good aspects.  However, as we’ve become more and more
structured in this homework check system, I’ve begun noticing, especially this
year, a lot more stress among our youngest elementary students.

Usually students are smiling, energetic, excited to start
class, and having a lot of fun by the end of their first month of lessons.  This year, many are, but I’ve also noticed many
young elementary students crying and showing other signs of stress after they
arrive for lessons, even a month or two into the year, which is abnormal.  Lesley’s explanation of how younger kids
process grammar and error correction may help explain why this is, and it has
me thinking of ways we can do better for our stressed first-graders.

Hearing Lesley talk about kids’ ER didn’t give me a
similar “Aha!” moment, but it was gratifying. 
MY’s extensive reading program is in its third year.  There’s very little researched and written
about kids’ ER (and about kids’ ELT in general).  While there are a few schools that can serve
as models, building a kids’ ER program mostly requires trial and error.

MY still has a lot of work to improve our ER program, but seeing the benefits of ER for kids in Lesley’s presentation was a strong reminder about why we created the class.  We especially need to do more to sell ER to our students and parents—yes, reading for an hour without the teacher choosing the book, checking comprehension, or grading results is an excellent way to improve language!  In the past two years and two months of ER classes, we’ve stumbled on a number of ideas and practices for how to do ER with kids, and it’s nice affirmation when another respected teacher like Lesley has independently arrived at similar conclusions and adopted many similar practices.

I’m already looking forward to our training weekend with Mike Griffin in October!

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