Any new teaching-learning pedagogical experiments like digital learning, gamification, cooperative learning, etc. are welcomed and appreciated by the education community but looking at the social realities, each new approach takes time to reach Indian classrooms (Sarpparaje & Jeyasala, 2020). In order to facilitate and raise the standards of teaching, training, and learning English using a robust methodology, the British Council, India offers a funded project scheme called the English Language Teaching Research Mentoring Scheme (ELTRMS) every year for Indian academics and researchers in the field of English Language Teaching For the year 2019-2020, twelve research groups received the ELTRMS grant, and our research on flipped learning held its prestigious position among those that had been selected Through the inspiring scheme, the selected researchers were empowered and inspired to uphold research quality in all aspects of their research works. As part of the research activities, a five-day workshop on “Flipped Classroom Approach to Enhance Communication Competency of College Students" was organized using the project grant to disseminate the idea of flipping to 26 ELT professionals in and around Tamilnadu, India.
The on-site training not only allowed the participants to understand the novel and trending teaching approach but also reinforced the idea of changing their teaching strategy by embracing the flipped method to enable the maximum beneficial hours for students to practice the language using technology. Workshop participants created a sample flipped learning resource package inclusive of self-made video lectures on the contents they usually teach in their respective colleges. They were also guided to implement active learning strategies, and guide students to learn through the flipped method. The effective assessment plans and technological platforms were also discussed in order to execute a flipped lesson in all its essence. Thereby, they felt more prepared to roll out the same to their own students.
The feedback indicated that the participants valued the workshop training and required more ideas to create in-class activities. With the gained confidence and excitement, the participants were highly successful and exultant about their flipped experience which was affirmed by them in the post-survey. As Gopalan et al (2018) rightly point out, it appears that the teaching community is always willing to accept changes happening in the world of teaching and for doing so, what they require the most is this training ignition to be confident and believe in their preparedness to conduct a student-centered class like the suggested model of flipped learning.
Inspired by the workshop, S. Sabitha Shanmugha Priya, one of the workshop participants went on to conduct along with her supportive team of colleagues, a seven-day National Faculty Development Program on “Blended and Integrated Teaching in Real and Virtual Classroom”. It was a mammoth success as it was attended by 70 teachers nationwide and the speciality of the course was that the whole content was delivered via the flipped method (i.e., all the sessions were made available in YouTube while during the session enriching activities were conducted to assess the participants’ understanding). I felt privileged to be invited as one of the resources of this program.
Motivation behind meaningful Faculty Development Programs as this
It is good that teachers are interested in moving forward by employing a student-centered approach to instruction. During the Covid pandemic teachers practised panic-gogy, which is the only way to reach and teach students. What is panic-gogy? It is just a term combining panic and pedagogy coined by Sean Michael Morris in an interview about the impact of the pandemic on higher education (Baker, 2020).
The recent days of panic-gogy have not only revolutionized teaching but have also also provided an exponential platform and meaningful time for teacher training. Academicians have witnessed a staggering rise in the body of published literature and development programs/seminars/workshops/conferences on virtual learning in almost all disciplines. Such development in tertiary education programs endorse strategic improvements in a professional manner. An effective teacher training workshop should impart the teaching-learning methodology coupled with impactful assessment tools so as to enhance their confidence in the process of teaching and learning. That way, the course on Blended and Integrated Teaching in Real and Virtual Classroom established the relevant effect of such a professional development program revolutionizing teaching-learning practice of both teachers and students.
My Contribution to the Faculty Development Program
The topic I chose for my session was “Drafting Effective Lesson Plans for Integrating Speaking and Writing Skills in Teaching”. It had been reported by National Association of Software and Services Company that only 25% of engineering graduates are employable and others lack the very basic abilities to speak or write well enough in English. Hence, the topic and the prevailing situation of the students gave me a humble opportunity to take some sincere attempts to bridge this serious gap between what students learn and what they should acquire. I didn’t try to reinvent the wheel by suggesting what had already been known, I just passed on the tasks and activities that I usually conduct in my classes in an attempt to improve my students’ language competency. In addition to sharing my own teaching experiences, my search for online tools to sharpen the speaking and writing skills of the learners made me explore innovative tech tools such as apps StoryBird, Zunal, Word it Out, and Easelly which eventually made me learn how to use them first! In the process of acquiring this new knowledge I realised that I was learning a lot by preparing to train others.
I was pleasantly surprised to receive the participants’ sample lesson plan draft, integrating all the important points I made via the Google Meet session. Their lesson plans stood as testimony to their involvement in the course offerings and I am sure that they will implement all the beneficial suggestions that they learned. The overall experience was highly overwhelming and I will forever cherish both the learning and the teaching opportunities it offered. Thank you is a small word to express my gratitude for all the benefits I enjoyed through this program and these moments make me a perennial learner who wishes to participate as well as to hold informative sessions to upskill in the constantly changing professional role.
PS: Here is the link of the session that I uploaded in my YouTube studio which I would like to celebrate and spread.
- Baker, K. J. (2020). Panic‐gogy: A Conversation with Sean Michael Morris. The National Teaching & Learning Forum, 29(4), 1–3. doi:10.1002/ntlf.30239
- Gopalan, C., Bracey, G., Klann, M., & Schmidt, C. (2018). Embracing the flipped classroom: the planning and execution of a faculty workshop. Advances in Physiology Education, 42(4), 648–654. doi:10.1152/advan.00012.2018
- Sarpparaje, M., & Jeyasala, V. R. (2020). Impact of Flipped Learning on Student Perception in Technical English Course. Tathapi, 19(18), 190–201. http://tathapi.com/index.php/2320-0693/issue/view/21
About Sarpparaje Murugavel
Sarpparaje Murugavel has been working as an Assistant Professor of English at Thiagarajar College of Engineering, Madurai. She has been teaching for a decade in reputed technical institutions and she has participated in about 30 various national and international seminars, workshops and conferences. She has obtained CEFR proficiency level C1 in Business English Certificate Higher by Cambridge English Language Assessment in 2017. She has to her credit two funded projects on from ICSSR (as CI) and the British Council (as PI) and have published three papers in Scopus indexed Asian ESP Journal.
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