Note: this is not a concrete project proposal, more a background statement of my interests
Aspiration: build on and extend previous work carried out in the Centre for Applied Linguistics under my leadership relating to the TELC (Teaching English in Large Classes) network
Specifically, build on and extend recent attempts to elicit and disseminate teachers' own 'stories of success' in low-resource circumstances, with a view to bottom-up, contextually relevant teacher development. For a brief rationale for this see: Smith, R. 2011. 'Teaching English in difficult circumstances: A new research agenda'. In Pattison, T. (ed.) IATEFL 2010 Harrogate Conference Selections. Canterbury: IATEFL. Pre-publication version here..
For an early example of the approach in practice, see Kuchah, K. and Smith, R. 2011. ‘Pedagogy of autonomy for difficult circumstances: From practice to principles’. Innovation in Language Learning and Teaching 5/2: 119-139. Free access. Further articles are in preparation.
Recent activities have included:
* eliciting teachers' narratives of effective teaching (as defined from their own perspectives) at workshops - e.g. a 5-day British Council workshop in Nepal (in November 2013) on 'The Low-Resource Classroom' for teachers from Bangladesh, India, Nepal and Pakistan. Videos of teachers' 'success stories' are currently being edited for wider dissemination - e.g. Joya (Assam, India); Fehmina (Pakistan)-- To log in, use firstname.lastname@example.org (User name) and britishcouncil as password
* encouraging action research and dissemination of findings - cf. presentation by Laxmi (Nepal) at above workshop
* eliciting teachers' good ideas and stories via 'teacher association research' - cf. Smith, R. and Kuchah, H. 2014.'"Teacher Association research": An innovative form of teacher-research' Voices [IATEFL newsletter] (January-February). Pre-publication version.
Particular opportunities are presenting themselves in the form of invitations to give further workshops, e.g. in Algeria in April / potentially in the context of an aid project in Togo. Invitations to extend the concept of 'teacher association research' beyond Cameroon are also likely.
If an opportunity presents itself, I would hope for possibilities of collaboratively enhancing:
1) literature review and theorization of the notion of 'successful' or 'effective' teaching in low-resource classrooms / otherwise 'difficult circumstances' in developing countries
2) analysis of narratives for possible 'common principles'
3) validation of insights gained, via questionnaires (quantitative dimension)
4) development of teacher education materials to add to those already available on the TELC website:
3) evaluation of impact of training (materials)
Richard Smith, 30 January 2014