The Metacognitive Journey from an "Experienced" Teacher Trainer to a Trained Teacher. A Reflective Case Study

Academic Paper, 2013

13 Pages




2. Case study description

3. Metacognitive analysis of the case study
3.1. Teacher role perceptions
3.1.1. From the teacher’s ‘controller role’ to teacher’s multiple roles
3.1.2. Dealing with power
3.2. Learner perceptions
3.2.1. From the learner as a ‘subservient knowledge receiver’ to the learner as ‘a resourcefulindividual’
3.3. Which methodology?
3.3.1. From ‘single method’ teaching to ‘principled eclecticism’ teaching
3.4. Teaching and learning tools
3.4.1. From ICT phobia through ICT philia towards moderated ICT use in ESL/EFL teaching
3.5.English Language teaching learnability
3.5.1. From the English nativeness paradigm to English teaching learnability

4. Conclusion

List of references


The concept of reflective case study in teacher training education and its associated multi-dimensional benefits is a highly maintained thesis in the literature. Researchers aptly grant due credence to the multi-faceted advantages of reflective practice for teacher-learners (Ghaye&Ghaye, 1998; Kolb, 1984; Francis, 1997, Cochran& Lytle, 2001; Yost, Sentner & Bailey, 2000). Kolb (1984) rightly postulates that learning arises from critical reflection upon experience. Lee (2007) emphasises that through reflection, pre-serviceteachers become more aware of themselves as would-be teachers and of thepedagogical context that impinges directly on teaching and learning. Yost et al (2000) go further to ascertain that reflective practice offer a venue for teacher learners to establish connections between content and practical knowledge and engage in active learning linking prior knowledge with new understandings. The present paper stems from this thesis and conceptualises the learning outcomes from my lived experience as a learner during the entire course of Second Language Teaching in Practice (SLTP). Thisreflection will be nurtured by ideas drawn from the different course readings and lecture notes, ideas shared with peers, observations held from the peer teachingand feedback received or heard others being given in the five- week peer teaching activity. All this multi directional input interacted with the teacher I have been for ten years and teacher trainer for six uninterrupted years.The remainder of this paper is structured as follows; the next section presents a descriptive, socio- cultural account of the case study.The following section provides a metacognitive analysis of the effect of being exposed to the course, and it will be split into four major sections; the teacher’s role, the learner’s role, the role of culture in ELT and ‘which English to teach’ section. The final conclusion reiterates the major points and the implications of the discussed points on my teaching profession journey.

2. Case study description

Case studies are frequently used in social sciences research.As Manen (1995) rightly suggests“the knowledge-in-action of teachers belongs phenomenologically more closely to the whole embodied being of a person as well as to the social and physical world in which this person lives” (p.46).It therefore follows that this case study works at a more detailed view and the case study being a personal narrative,(Thomas, 2011); its socio educational context of it needs to be established.

As a matter of fact, I embraced on SLTP after having lived almost my entirelife in an English as a foreign language (EFL) context and spent three years in an African ESL context .My background in the EFL context constitutes the richest informative context here in that it has taken the greatest bit of my lifetime as An English learner and an English teacher. As an English learner, in the Burundi socio cultural context, I was first exposed to English language when I was 14 years old through an enthusiastic audio-lingual methodology. This furthered my interest on Englishand inspired me to take on English language and literature at the B.A level where I was trained to teach English. After completing this, I took on a teaching career in the English- Kirundi department Institute where I taught Academic English, linguistics to pre-service teachers in the Institute for Applied Pedagogy (IAP) since 2003.

Concerning the macro sociolinguistic context, Burundi is a predominantly monolingual country and a former Belgian colony.French is therefore used as an official language alongside Kirundi spoken all over the country. Pre-service teachers, my learners, are students who have completed the secondary schools and passed the University entry examination in all the disciplines with French as the medium of instruction and assessment. English is a taught subject and is assessed in English. The inherent English input and output that are available to these learners before and during the tertiary curriculum are limited to the classroom context and the daily 15 minutes radio cast and telecast.This situation bears tremendous disadvantages to the learners but surprisingly, as a teacher, I was not affected by this lack of practice as I was practicing the language each and every day through instruction and self-exposure to reading materials.

3. Metacognitive analysis of the case study

As previously stated, the present case study is a narrative reflection of the input of the SLTP course as it relates to my own framework. As Boud,Keog and Walter (1985) suggest, such a reflection is a two-step journey with the first stage ‘a returning to the experience’ and ‘ a re-evaluation of the experience’ the second stage of the journey. Here, we follow this line of thought in our narrative in portraying this journey from self-awareness to change. For this purpose, we use the phrase ‘ fromto … ’, in referring to this metacognitive journey from the routines and previous perceptions to the newly built knowledge in the understanding of ELT, that is, what ELT means to me now.

3.1. Teacher role perceptions

Attending lectures, and reflecting on the readings brought me to understand that the teacher has a great role in the teaching-learning process and his role is never kept constant but changes in accordance with the curriculum, the task at hand, the level of learners, the socio cultural context he/she finds in and many more. Moreover, I came to realise that there is a link between the teaching methods and classroom practice and on the heart of it all; it is the teacher who is the core decision maker.

3.1.1. From the teacher’s ‘controller role’ to teacher’s multiple roles

As a practitioner of the traditional grammar teaching method, my attitude towards learners displayed too much power and I was unable to introspectively see it.But readings on this course as well as exposure to different methods provided me with first an awareness to my perception of the role of a teacher and insights on where that “over” power was rooted as well as strategies to moderate it.

In fact, as Li and Baldauf (2011) suggest there are external factors that constrain effective language teaching. They highlight that there is a positive correlation between teacher’s attitudes and the educational policyand curriculum that need to be taught. Unpacking this broughtme to retrospect and introspect on my attitude as a teacher in relation to the particular national curriculum at the Institute for Applied Pedagogy. In fact, thecurriculum I had to follow constrained me to standardise the teaching and systematize it and learners’ competencies are measured by standardised tests. This impacted on my teaching as I had no time to care much on what I was doing but rather was an alienated executor of the plan.The plan I had to follow obliged me to maximise content delivery and therefore I could not focus on creating lessons that involved inquiry. What counted the most was following moving with the plan even when students did not get the concept rather than ‘harping’ on it.This interweaves with the fact that the Burundi culture of power, whereby a teacher and an English teacher especially is always associated with prestige, high esteem and respect. The interaction of these factors had an effect on my teaching as I was less learner concerned but more curriculum concerned, less cooperative but more of a controller and authoritative.

3.1.2. Dealing with power

Having identified that the over power had characterised my teaching attitudes, I searched for ways to control it in the particular context where I exercise my teaching my profession.The question that rose was: Is it possible to moderate the power and become a moderator in the particular educational context of Burundi, what would be the strategies to deal with this power and shift?

Upon scrutinising the literature I came upon two views: First, I realised that despite the constraints of the curriculum, I as a teacher was the responsible person of how I was behaving in classroom. As Delpit (1995) notes, “We all interpretbehaviours, information, and situationsthrough our own cultural lenses; these lenses operate involuntarily, below the level of conscious awareness, making it seem that our ownview is simply ‘the way it is’ ” (p. 151).On the basis of this, I realised that what has been happening in the classroom was not so much a matter of what the curriculum constrained me to do but rather how I interacted with the curriculum and my learners. What’s more ,from this I was also inspired by Gordon’s (1990) approach to a similar problematic, he argues that good teachers must develop an awareness of their perspectives and how these can be enlarged to avoid a ‘communicentric’ bias which limits their understanding of those whom they teach. From the above, I am convinced that I need to develop the ability to see beyond my own perspective, to put myself in the shoes of the learner and understand the meaning of concepts not in terms of knowledge but also in terms of learning. In so doing, the fatal imbalance that used to characterise classroom activities in my routine teaching life will have to be revisited. From the observation held at GUELI, I got inspired on the strategies that can be used in redistributing classroom activities through allowing, encouraging and training learners to introduce new vocabulary, presenting texts, explaining new grammar, managing language exercises and drills, setting up role plays, checking vocabulary, etc. but most essentially involving learners into more complex, independent research projects like peer-peer teaching which would involve peer-peer learning (Swain et al, 2002) and maximise classroom interaction. This would inevitably balance the teacher power into leadership as Dornyei (2007) rightly advocates that teachers are nothing but group leaders.

3.2. Learner perceptions

The teacher’sperception of his/her role determines classroom practice which reflects on the teacher’s perception of thelearners. The reflection on these perceptions is explained below.

3.2.1. From the learner as a ‘subservient knowledge receiver’ to the learner as ‘a resourcefulindividual’

Having established the ‘over power’ attitude towards teaching which itself is linked to the culture of power and the curriculum but still much of the culture of the teacher I have been, it follows I perceived learners as passive receiversof knowledge. However, upon reflecting on the observations I had at GUELI, I realised that the class size also has an impact on the perception of learners. Being used to massive classrooms of 100 or 170 students, all the classes I observed at GUELI offered me a different perspective of what a class size is and should be and encouraged me to investigate further on the correlation between class size and language teaching and learning. Upon reading the literature, I realised that research highly maintains that favourable teacher effects (workload, morale, attitudes towards students) are associated with smaller classes as are favourable effects on students such as self-concept, interest in school, participation (Ehrenberg, Brewer, Gamoran &Willims,2001).Linking these established theoretical views to practice in the peer teaching brought me to understand that smaller classes fuel individualised instruction while larger classes curtail it, and this impacts on visualizing instruction (Cook, 2001). During the peer teaching activities, I experienced the difference in my teaching habits as I came to better understand that teaching is not dealing with learners in groups but rather as individuals.It is not what the whole class does that is important but ultimately what the language learner as an individual does. Also failure to view a learner as an individual impacted the teaching process in that teaching implies just a one-way transmission of knowledge (Kohonen, Jaatinen, Kaikkonen & Lehtovaraara, 2001) and learners are viewed as just passive recipients of information,denied any opportunity for interaction between them as it was considered distractive and time waster or and any negotiation between the curriculum and the learner.Interactions between the teacher and learners were limited to answering and asking few questions. Reflections drawn from the readings and the discussions during the lectures has This worked at the disfavour of learners who have lower intelligences as they were not allowed to ask any question aloud as they could be laughed at by the entire class, and hence impacting on other levels of intelligences suchas emotional intelligence (Kohonen et al, 2001). Afterhaving witnessed and diagnosed my inefficiency, I corroborate with Swain,Brooks and Tocalli-Beller (2002) who grant considerable importance to peer collaborative dialogue as a means for second language learning. In fact, for meaningful learning to occur, learners need to be facilitated to construct and interpret their own learning and this can only be achieved if the learner is granted a space in the ownership of knowledge and self- direct his own learning.


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The Metacognitive Journey from an "Experienced" Teacher Trainer to a Trained Teacher. A Reflective Case Study
Griffith University
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metacognitive, case, reflective, trained, trainer, teacher, experienced, from, journey, study
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Alice Rwamo (Author), 2013, The Metacognitive Journey from an "Experienced" Teacher Trainer to a Trained Teacher. A Reflective Case Study, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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