September Event Review: Teacher Efficacy, Learner Agency

With the 2019 JALT International Conference approaching, Nara Chapter continued its exploration of the conference theme, Teacher Efficacy, Learner Agency, at a local level from the perspective of both established and early-career educators.

In the first presentation, Robert Maran, Professor Emeritus at Osaka Shoin Women’s University, discussed an EFL program he had coordinated, focusing on his observation and interpretation of “learner agency” in program planning and “collective teacher efficacy” among the team of teachers. He first talked about the general outline of the coordinated EFL program and the subjects and students, and then briefly mentioned what “learner agency” and “teacher efficacy” are. In terms of the concept of teacher efficacy, Maran focused on “evidence of impact”, or the actual confirmation of how teachers have influenced students’ learning outcomes. Well, how can “evidence of impact” be measured? Can only test results show it? Is the creation of learning portfolios a better indication? Does students’ participation in communicative activities only during class hours verify it? Let’s face it, given the general characteristics of the students his team taught – non-English majors with no clear need for learning English – he concluded that if the students at least adopted a positive attitude towards learning English, it could be interpreted as “evidence of impact.” Maran also introduced a function of collective teacher efficacy: experiences = four sources of collective teacher efficacy (mastery experiences, vicarious experiences, social persuasion, and affective statuses); and environment = six enabling conditions of collective teacher efficacy (advanced teacher influence, good consensus, cohesive staff, knowledge of one another’s work, responsiveness of leadership, and effective systems of intervention). He then analyzed the coordinated EFL program based on all the ten components. The employment situations of team teachers – whether they teach full-time or part-time – would affect the process of promoting collective teacher efficacy in EFL programs, since team teachers need to pursue shared educational goals and work together as one interdependent unit. Under prominent team leaders, well-coordinated EFL programs would have considerable potential for developing learner agency. Teacher efficacy and learner agency intertwine closely and cannot be separated.

In the second presentation, Sayaka Ishimizu, Associate Professor at the National Institute of Technology (Kosen), Nara College, talked about a teaching approach using a study tracker based on the Bullet Journal Method (BuJo). BuJo is a journaling method of tasks, events, and notes on a daily basis, which is an analog system for the digital age. After knowing how little time her students had spent on self-study outside class hours and how poorly they had organized their everyday class requirements and tasks, Ishimizu introduced in April, 2019 the study tracker system that encourages approximately 200 students in a one-year English course to keep a log of their everyday self-study hours on monthly study track sheets. The monthly study track sheet has four self-study areas that the students need to be engaged in and keep time records of: vocabulary build-up, assignments, class-content review, and class-content preparation. There is also space for “tasks” on the sheet where the students need to fill in the title of tasks when assigned specific tasks to carry out. Their daily records were added up and converted into weekly records. A preliminary survey highlighted that there was an increase in self-study hours compared with a year earlier among 150 out of 200 of the students who had reported their self-study hours at the end of this spring semester. By keeping records and revisiting their study trackers, the students were also able to observe their time allocation for each self-study area and amend it to improve their grades. It could be controversial whether those records self-reported by students are accurate and trustworthy, however, her focus appeared on the process of students’ self-engagement in keeping study records and forming a good study habit, rather than on an increase in their study hours. Ishimizu is herself a practitioner of BuJo and a witness to its effectiveness in empowering her time and energy. It would be interesting to know the complete results and observation of her study tracker project and how “evidence of impact” can be interpreted in her study.

I was honored to invite as presenters to this September event two active members of Nara Chapter: Robert Maran, my respected mentor, and Sayaka Ishimizu, a former colleague and close friend. Both presentations were well received and obtained positive feedback. It was a good opportunity to explore the conference theme, Teacher Efficacy, Learner Agency, just before the 4CT event in October and the JALT international conference in November. I hope this September event served as a booster for JALT 2019 from our local chapter.

Reviewed by Motoko Teraoka

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Nara JALT presents: Teacher Efficacy, Learner Agency

Nara JALT continues its exploration of the 2019 JALT International Conference theme with this September event focusing on “Teacher Efficacy, Learner Agency” at the local level and from the perspective of both established and early-career educators.

Speakers:

Presentation 1: Robert Maran (Osaka Shoin Women’s University)

Promoting Collective Teacher Efficacy and Learner Agency in an EFL program

Presentation 2: Sayaka Ishimizu (National Institute of Technology, Nara College)

Forming a Study Habit through a Study Tracker based on the Bullet Journal Method

Date: Sunday, September 8, 2019

Time: 10:00-12:00

Venue: Nara Women’s University

https://jaltnara.wordpress.com/venues/

https://goo.gl/maps/g7xPwDM4sa3BorGVA

Fee: Free for JALT members. ¥1,000 for non-members.

Presentation 1

Promoting Collective Teacher Efficacy and Learner Agency in an EFL program

Robert Maran: Osaka Shoin Women’s University

This presentation, while citing key background events that affected the required EFL program at the former Osaka Shoin Women’s Junior College and at the current Osaka Shoin Women’s University, will introduce some of the key changes, tweaks and innovations that were made to the required EFL program in successive attempts to promote collective teacher efficacyand learner agency. These include such elements as curriculum design rationale, classroom management, teacher management, teaching methodology, common syllabi/ teaching materials, proficiency testing, and e-learning. The presentation will introduce and discuss these chronologically as they appeared in the program, citing the pluses and minuses, successes and failures. It is hoped that participants will get a sense of the challenges an institution faces when attempting to implement and maintain collective teacher efficacyand learner agency, as well as perhaps taking away some ideas that they may incorporate or adapt to their own EFL programs.

Robert Maran’s Bio:

Robert Maran retired in 2019 and was made Professor Emeritus and a Study Abroad Advisor at Osaka Shoin Women’s University. He has been teaching in the Japanese university system for more than 35 years. His main research interests while focusing on Study Abroad and e-learning have also included curriculum development.

Presentation 2

Forming a Study Habit through a Study Tracker based on the Bullet Journal Method

Sayaka Ishimizu: National Institute of Technology (Kosen), Nara College

This presentation will introduce a teaching approach using a study tracker based on the Bullet Journal Method (BJM) developed by Ryder Carroll. The BJM provides a way of mental inventory that leads to “intentionality.” Simply put, keeping a journal of everyday life gives you opportunity to visit “your belief = why” behind “your action = what” by tracking the past, ordering the present and designing the future. The presenter, a practitioner of the BJM, modified this method as a study tracker for approximately 200 students of hers in a one-year English course and implemented this study tracker system this academic year. The aim of the study trackeris to help students form a study habit in a more organized, observable, and autonomous way in hope of encouraging learner agency. The students have kept a log of the number of hours they studied on monthly study track sheets, and by doing this they have tracked their own study habits. At the beginning and in the middle of the course, listening and reading tests were administered to the students to monitor their comprehension abilities. At the same time, questionnaires were distributed to have the students self-evaluate their four English skills (listening, speaking, reading, and writing). The preliminary results of the tests and surveys, and the possibility of further modification of the study tracker for the latter half of the course will be discussed in this presentation.

Sayaka Ishimizu’s Bio:

Sayaka Ishimizu is an associate professor at National Institute of Technology (Kosen), Nara College, and has a master’s degree in education from Nara University of Education. Her research interests include listening pedagogy and teacher training.

Teaching Young Learners: English for Elementary School Education

Sunday, June 23, 2019

This event will provide participants with practical teaching ideas for Foreign Language Activities for 3rdand 4thgraders, and English as an Official Subject for 5thand 6thgraders, officially starting from 2020 academic year. With the speakers who are teaching English at elementary schools, we would like to discuss and better ways to teach English effectively in elementary school education. We hope this event will help to gain a deeper insight into professional development for teachers teaching English in elementary schools.

Speakers:

Presentation 1. Julie Rhodes (Kawai Town Board of Education) & Masayuki Takano (Nara Prefectural Tomigaoka High School) 

Presentation 2: Wakana Chihara (Kori Nevers Elementary School, Osaka)

Date: Sunday, June 23, 2019

Time: 10:00-12:00

Venue: Nara Women’s University

https://jaltnara.wordpress.com/venues/

https://goo.gl/maps/g7xPwDM4sa3BorGVA

Fee: Free for JALT members. ¥1,000 for non-members.

Presentation1: 

English has become the lingua franca of many aspects of modern life. From the macro—international diplomacy, scientific literature, technology, business—to the micro—international friendships, and personal travel. Children now live in a more internationally connected world, and English is an increasingly important subject in Japanese schools at all levels.  However, since the introduction of English as a main subject for elementary schools, there have been many questions about how to approach teaching it. Many home room teachers (HRT) are English language learners themselves, with little to no English teaching training. Understandably, many HRTs have anxieties about how to teach a challenging subject they are generally inexperienced with.  Through this presentation, we will address some of these concerns and give teachers of all levels practical strategies for teaching English actively and communicatively, as well as ways to give students more learning autonomy. Ultimately, we hope to illustrate how giving students more agency can lead to increased engagement, and a more effective English classroom that meets the needs of a globalized generation.

Presentation2: 

Phonics has been taught to children who are learning how to read and write in English. Learning phonics helps children to connect a letter or letters to a specific sound which leads to individual reading and writing. In phonics, there is a synthetic approach that teaches the isolated phonemes (sounds) first, and the phonemes are blended together (synthesized) allowing children to read on their own.

Jolly Phonics is a synthetic phonics approach which has a multi-sensory method which is fun for the children and for the teachers themselves. In this presentation, participants will be able to experience the Jolly Phonics method.

Biography:

During her years as an English teacher to both America immigrants and Japanese primary and secondary school students, Julie Rhodes has developed a passion for student-centered teaching methods.  She is perusing study in communicative language teaching for ESL and EFL learners, as well as literacy intervention for native English speakers. She currently lives in Nara prefecture, where she teaches at the preschool, elementary school, and junior high school levels. 

After finishing his Master’s in TESOL, Masayuki Takano is currently teaching English to high school students in Nara Prefecture. His academic interests includes  teaching pedagogical grammar for communicative competence and professional development of language educators.  He also taught Japanese for a year in University of Guanajuato in central Mexico. 

Biography:

Having grown up in Puerto Rico and the US, Wakana Chihara has always had an interest in bilingualism. After working in public elementary schools in Hirakata City as a JTE, she is currently teaching English to elementary school students in a private school in Neyagawa City.

Teaching Young Learners: English for Elementary School Education

Sunday, June 23, 2019

This event will provide participants with practical teaching ideas for Foreign Language Activities for 3rdand 4thgraders, and English as an Official Subject for 5thand 6thgraders, officially starting from 2020 academic year. With the speakers who are teaching English at elementary schools, we would like to discuss and better ways to teach English effectively in elementary school education. We hope this event will help to gain a deeper insight into professional development for teachers teaching English in elementary schools.

The abstracts of the presentations and biographies of the speakers will be updated soon. 

Speakers:

1. Wakana Chihara (Seiwa Gakuen, Kyoto)

2: Julie Rhodes (Kawai Town Board of Education) & Masayuki Takano (Nara Prefectural Tomigaoka High School) 

Date: Sunday, June 23, 2019

Time: 10:00-12:00

Venue: Nara Women’s University

https://jaltnara.wordpress.com/venues/

https://goo.gl/maps/g7xPwDM4sa3BorGVA

Fee: Free for JALT members. ¥1,000 for non-members.

Round Table discussion: Teacher Efficacy, Learner Agency

Sunday, April 14, 2019

The theme of this year’s JALT international conference in Nagoya is Teacher Efficacy, Learner Agency. Nara Jalt’s first event of 2019 is a round table event, where participants are encouraged to discuss and explore this theme. Nara Jalt is extremely fortunate to have Steve Herder and Catherine L. Oki, the JALT 2019 Conference Co-Chairs at this event.

We look forward to seeing you all there and hearing your thoughts and ideas on this topic. 

Date: Sunday, April 14, 2019

Time: 10:00-12:00

Venue:Yamato Conference Hall, Nara City (やまと会議室)https://jaltnara.wordpress.com/venues/

Fee: Free for JALT members. ¥1,000 for non-members.

JALT 2019 Conference Co-Chairs:

Steven Herder and Catherine L.Oki

Steven Herder’s Bio:

Steven has been an EFL professional for almost 30 years, teaching from elementary school to the university level, and is now Associate Professor at Kyoto Notre Dame University in Japan. He leads students in the Global English Course, as well as in his 3rd/4th-year Women in Leadership seminar. 

He is also an author and editor of two Palgrave Macmillan teacher resources, Innovating EFL Teaching in Asia (2012) and Exploring EFL Fluency in Asia (2014). Since 2010, he has been working with Suken Publishing on the high school textbook series Big Dipper Series I, II, III, DUALSCOPE II, as well as writing teacher manuals, drill textbooks, and graded readers. 

In 2012, he co-founded the International Teacher Development Institute (http://itdi.pro), an online teacher training community for teachers by teachers, with over 5000 members and a global reach into over 100 countries.Steven believes, “being a teacher means a never-ending commitment to learning”.
herder@notredame.ac.jp

Catherine L. Oki’s Bio:

Catherine L. Oki has been teaching in Japan since 2000 and is currently an Assistant Professor in the Department of International Studies at Doshisha Women’s College of Liberal Arts. 

At DWCLA, she serves as the English Skills coordinator, leading a team of teachers responsible for teaching pre-study abroad academic English skills classes including TOEFL iBT and IELTS preparation. She also teaches elective content courses and leads a seminar course focusing on Education and Sociology. 

Catherine is the author of the very young learner series Happy Valley. She is currently finishing a quantitative study about engagement and online Extensive Reading and is beginning research on a needs analysis for study abroad preparatory courses.

At DWCLA, she serves as the English Skills coordinator, leading a team of teachers responsible for teaching pre-study abroad academic English skills classes including TOEFL iBT and IELTS preparation. She also teaches elective content courses and leads a seminar course focusing on Education and Sociology. 

Catherine is the author of the very young learner series Happy Valley. She is currently finishing a quantitative study about engagement and online Extensive Reading and is beginning research on a needs analysis for study abroad preparatory courses.