Category Archives: classroom culture

Trauma in the Classroom (Part 1)

Guest Contributors: Allyson Eamer, Amea Wilbur, Katie Crossman, Jennifer Allore

www.bigstockphoto.com 
If you are a LINC or ESL instructor, there is a good chance that you have taught learners who have experienced trauma. Syrian, Afghan and now Ukrainian refugees, for example, have been arriving in Canada in large numbers and are increasingly part of our classrooms. Although you are not a mental health specialist, you are often the first point of contact for many students. They likely see you more often and for longer blocks of time than they see their settlement workers or other professionals in their lives. Your students undoubtedly view you as quintessentially Canadian and very much a part of “the system” that directly impacts their lives and futures in Canada. Because you work hard to be a caring instructor and to build trust in the classroom, you are likely to witness the effects of trauma on student learning, and/or to have trauma disclosed to you by a student. You are therefore an important, if unwitting (and likely unprepared, we will argue), key player in responding to trauma.

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Promoting Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Class through Critical Texts, Talks, and Tasks

I asked TESL Ontario educators to record their thoughts on the question “What are one or two ways that you incorporate diversity, equity, and inclusion in your teaching practice?” This post shares their recordings (see link below) and synthesizes their responses, which highlight the importance of infusing criticality in classroom texts, talks, and tasks. 

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One of Us

Image source: www.bigstockphoto.com

The Setup

We were three months into an online class and just past a spike of on-boarding new learners.  At this point, and counting the newer learners, about half of the class relented to turning their cameras on. It was Monday and I had a new grey tie.  I really wanted to show off my new necktie, so I wore – uncharacteristically – a black shirt.

Learners arrived and turned on their cameras, saying “Good morning.  How was your weekend?  Are you feeling any better?” and all that.  One of the first was a lovely woman, a retired teacher and a dedicated student – one of those learners who is, besides punctual and respectful, eager to please and who quietly but assuredly defends the soundness of the instructor’s pedagogical choices. Let me call her Harmony. 

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Back to the Classroom: Lessons in Returning to In-Person Learning

Photo taken from: Big Stock Photo

When we went back to class in March, my students appeared larger than life. More human, tangible. Lots of smiles, welcoming faces, laughter, and excitement. They had a willingness to learn and interact with each other, as well as with the teacher. 

I was curious to see how teaching would function in a “post-COVID-19” period. I was happy to see them in class. 

I developed a learn-as-you-go approach. I didn’t know who would attend on a day-to-day basis and hoped more students of various backgrounds would join. 

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Learning the Art of Critical Pivoting

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Guest Contributor: Christine Smart-Wiseman

Like many others in the field, I am always looking for new ways to improve my teaching. My research as a PhD student at York University led me to examine teaching from a critical pedagogical approach. The guiding principle of this approach is to construct equitable and democratic classrooms with a goal to positively transform students’ lives (Canagarajah, 2005).

While I was doing my research in an ELL classroom, I uncovered many ways in which ELL environments contradict the goals of critical pedagogical approaches. In many cases, planning and preparing ahead to foster a classroom environment that supports critical learning can overcome these challenges, but at times, there may be a dynamic need to shift classroom spaces towards empowering teaching and learning. I have developed a strategy I call critical pivoting to address this problem and would like to share it with you.

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#CdnELTchat Summary for April 27, 2021 Building Community in Online Classes

Image Source: #CdnELTChat Team
Image Source: #CdnELTChat Team

Post by Bonnie Nicholas

As we continue with online teaching and learning, I think all of us have discovered the importance of building community in the online spaces in which we spend so much time. I suspect that we have all also discovered that it’s more challenging to build a community in an online environment than in a face-to-face class. #CdnELTchat hosted a Twitter chat to talk about this ongoing challenge.

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Social Presence in Online Learning

image source: www.unsplash.com

In a virtual or distance learning environment, social presence is essentially the feeling of being together. It can be quite challenging for both learners and instructors to project emotional and/or physical experiences in online learning, and this is a much-studied phenomenon. However, if we as instructors can consider this dimension of online learning in how we conduct our courses and interact with our students, we can help mitigate the stress and uncertainties of the sudden changeover to online delivery. Continue reading

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Adventures in Summer School

Retro television with technical difficulties warning , 3D rendering
Image source: www.bigstockphoto.com

Like many of my colleagues, I was teaching online this summer using Zoom. My adult ESL class (CLB 4) had about 14 regular students. By the end, we had become quite close and it was sad to see them go. Along the way we had a few adventures related to online learning that I’d like to share with you.

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Building cultural awareness inside and out

Photo by Giulia May on Unsplash

I have been lucky enough to work with students from a myriad of cultures over the years. Had anyone asked me if I promote intercultural skills in my students, my response would be swift. Yes, of course!

After all, I have initiated plenty of culturally themed discussions, readings, presentations, digital narratives, and other activities. But after reading more about Intercultural Competence (IC) and, more specifically, Intercultural Communicative Competence (ICC), I realize that I am not going far enough.

What is ICC?

Intercultural Communicative Competence (ICC) derives from Intercultural Competence (IC). Both refer to the ability to interrelate with people from different cultures. According to Byram (as cited in Bickley, Rossiter, and Abbott, 2014), being interculturally competent means you can communicate effectively with people from diverse cultures in your own language. ICC, however, focuses on the “additional knowledge, skills, attitudes and abilities” to do so in a second or foreign language (p. 138). For EAP, obviously, this distinction is important. 

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