The eagerly awaited #AusELT chat around Demand High ELT (DHELT) on March 7 certainly did not disappoint. Just keeping up with the frantic and exhilarating pace and remembering to use two hash tags was a ‘demand high’ task in itself! The #AusELT community was delighted to welcome ELT luminaries Jim Scrivener (@jimscriv) and Adrian Underhill (@adriund) as well as some new faces to #AusELT chat: @andrea_rivett, @meredithMacAul1, @karlprodger and @stiiiv. A hearty thank you from us all to @trylingual for making this chat happen, for expert moderating of a very pacey chat, and to Adrian U for joining Twitter J
So after the initial meeting and greeting, the chat kicked off with @trylingual asking us:
What does DHELT mean to you?
- Focus on intensive learning, getting the most out of learners. Good teaching! (@Eslkazzyb)
- Not cruising, making the most of learning moments that come up (@SophiaKhan4)
- Taking your teaching to the best possible version (@eslsharenow)
- Raising my expectations about learners’ abilities, not underestimating them (@Penultimate_K)
- The challenge in the moment to go a little deeper…push a little further each time (@trylingual)
There seemed to be a consensus that DHELT has a focus on maximising potential of learners and teachers (@andrea_rivett), on ‘doable demand’ with incremental and considered challenges, requiring a focus of working/responding in the moment. @MeredithMacAul1 captured the essence tweeting that you can teach the same lesson to different students and have a different set of ‘engagements’. @jimscriv added that for him DHELT simply means an exploration of if he can/how he can challenge his students more. And noted it is about the students being pushed with the teacher doing the pushing. @ElkySmith and @Adriund reminded us that to challenge learners we need to be conscious of who they are on an individual level. @jimscriv reminded us to really listen to students and hear what they say.
Throughout the chat there was naturally lots of valuable tweeting to and fro about various techniques. I think it is worth highlighting the tweet from @jimscriv early on in the piece:
[The salient question seems to be] WHATEVER you do, what makes it more challenging?
What does DHELT look like?
Naturally, the chat soon turned to what shape DHELT takes in the classroom. The term ‘intervention’ is used by Jim and Adrian and this prompted @tonystock to ask more about ‘interventions’. @trylingual followed up with requests for teacher prompts that would form the basis of an intervention (in my understanding). See the transcript for a number of examples and suggestions J @TESOLatMQ provided a slide shot that summed up a lot of the chat questions very neatly but may have got slightly lost in the chat due to the pace, so here it is:
Inevitably the very valid question was raised about the demands/obstacles for teachers.
@SophiaKhan4 acknowledged that teachers often feel tired. A number of participants, including myself chirped in commenting that a challenge can re-energise – easy for me to say when I am not teaching full time!?! @SophiaKhan4 also mentioned the need for confidence and techniques. With regards to techniques, teacher narratives were suggested as a tool for exploring and sharing.
@Penultimate_K raised the expectations and assumptions made around the roles of learners and teachers.
@trylingual asked whether we can ‘plan’ for DHELT. There was some discussion around planning for DHELT with @jimsriv commenting that he ‘prepares’ rather than ‘plans’ pointing to the need to be prepared to be flexible ‘working live’ in the classroom. A good reminder!
A number of participants tweeted to and fro about whether DHELT can be taught and at what stage – CELTA/in-service? There was consensus that the first year of so of teaching is more about ‘survival’ but then…..
Food for thought to take away…
- There was agreement that coursebook materials can be better exploited/ adapted/extended to be more demanding thus engaging for students (win/win for Ts and Ss)
- A valuable read is the 1-1 post (http://demandhighelt.wordpress.com/category/close-up-teaching/) @eslsharenow
- Small individual upgrades over time = one big upgrade @jimscriv
- Not being afraid of monitoring closely, taking notes to use for ‘interventions’ @Eslkazzyb, @ElkySmith
- Not overdoing praise, appropriate encouragement (@MeredithMacAul1), not ‘rubberstamping’ @jimscriv
- Teaching the students, not the plan…..it is ok to ‘interfere’@jimscriv
Summary by @Eslkazzyb (Karen Benson)