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EnglishUSA Journal - Spring 2020

Table of Contents

  1. Editorial
  2. Advocacy Corner
  3. Six Strategies for Fostering a Faculty Leadership Culture
  4. Progress Reporting for Private and Small Group Students

EDITORIAL

by Engin Ayvaz

It is with distinct pleasure that I present to you the second issue of the EnglishUSA Journal. The 2020 Spring issue of this biannual journal is the outcome of concerted efforts of the Professional Development and Activities Committee (PDAC), authors, reviewers and the EnglishUSA Office. I would like extend my appreciation each and every one who contributed to this online publication.

In this issue, you will find two relevant and useful articles as well as the advocacy corner. Emma Tudor discusses strategies to create a culture of collaboration through shared governance and collective decision-making. Deanna Berget’s article provides a step-by-step guide to development and implementation of an effective student feedback mechanism in addition to rationale for and outcomes of the project. Last but not least, Mackenzie Kerby will provide of an overview of how EnglishUSA is responding to current COVID-19 global crisis to protect the profession and ways in which you can actively participate in such efforts.

If you would like to be engaged with the EnglishUSA Journal, there are a couple ways to be actively involved. The call for the 2020 Fall issue will be released late June and we will be welcoming submissions in the Reports and Reviews, In the Classroom and Journal Articles categories. We particularly invite submissions focusing on the impacts of COVID-19 crisis on English language teaching, as well as on innovative, replicable and effective ways to cope with rapid and dramatic changes in the instructional setting. You may visit EnglishUSA Journal Submission Guidelines to find out more about requirements and submit your work through the Submission Form. You may also apply to become a journal reviewer if you would like to be instrumental in determining the contents and sustaining the quality of the journal by evaluating submissions according to the pre-established criteria. If you are interested in becoming a reviewer, email a cover letter, your resume and list of previous review and publication experience to execdirector@englishusa.org.

On behalf of the PDAC, I would like to thank you for being part of the EnglishUSA community by contributing to, reading, sharing and posting this journal.

Happy reading!

Engin Ayvaz is the Director of Intensive English Center at Tennessee State University and serves as the VP-Elect for Standards on the Executive Board of EnglishUSA. His work focuses on quality and excellence in language teaching and international higher education.


ADVOCACY CORNER

by Mackenzie Kerby

At the risk of stating the obvious, the COVID-19 pandemic has drastically changed our industry for the foreseeable future.  Students are studying online, if they can study at all.  University-governed programs and private language schools alike have had to undergo massive furloughs and layoffs just to stay afloat and hopefully return stronger in the future.  We all know this and it’s these challenges that make it seem as if advocacy is useless and not worth our time.  Afterall, our lives have suffered massive changes and many of us hardly have time to do the basics.  It is for that reason, though, that we must continue in our advocacy efforts and do so in ways that are more direct and consistent.

To that end, below is a summary of the “asks” that EnglishUSA has put together alongside NAFSA so that we can, as a group, reach out to our elected officials in one unified voice.  You can find more details on the points below here.

  1. Urge Congress to consider English language programs in its future acts for financial resources, oversight and policy changes.
  2. Direct the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Consular Affairs to institute transparent, easy-to-understand processes and timely processing for visa renewals.
  3. Require the U.S. State Department to report to Congress and the public its plans to process the expected surge of visa requests.
  4. Require the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to postpone any non-COVID-19 rulemaking that impacts international students, exchange visitors, faculty, and staff for the duration of the pandemic.
  5. Direct DHS’ U.S. Customs and Border Protection to implement a nimble process at ports of entry.
  6. Establish a national recruitment strategy to attract and retain international students and scholars.

With the points and resources above at your helm, getting started with advocacy work can be quick and easy.  Three options follow for how you can make your voice heard with respect to the amount of time you have available.

10 Minutes

To get started, simply search for your U.S. Representative’s and U.S. Senators’ contact information.  Then either utilize the EnglishUSA templated letter to send your Congress person an email or draft your own.  Don’t be afraid to use your own personal story.  Have you been laid off?  Has your organization’s student population dropped drastically? Have other English language programs in the area had to close indefinitely? These types of stories are imperative to having an impactful communication with your Congress person.

5 Minutes

We can’t visit our Congress people in person for the time being and these in person visits can be extremely effective.  In place of that, try calling your Congress person.  Be aware that you will likely only speak to a staffer and they won’t stay on the phone long.  However, having a literal voice that is followed up by an email can be a great way to build a connection with your Congress person’s office.

3 Minutes

If this still all seems too daunting and if you only have a couple of quick minutes, head over to https://connectingourworld.org/.  There, you can click “Take Action” and simply input your own information and NAFSA will send the communication on your behalf.

Regardless of the amount of time you have available, we implore you to take action.  Your voice and your story matters and without sharing them, English language programs across the country might not be considered in relief efforts, policy making, and future planning.   When you do reach out to your Congress person, let us know in the EnglishUSA Engage communities or on the EnglishUSA Facebook group!

Mackenzie Kerby is the Acting Regional Director for ELS Language Centers. Prior to this, she taught English at all levels: IEPs, high school, and university. She has presented at EnglishUSA PDC, TESOL, and is published in The Year’s Work in English. Ms. Kerby's interest lies in advocacy for international education.


Six Strategies for Fostering a Faculty Leadership Culture

by Emma Tudor

Faculty leadership involves giving faculty members more responsibility in the governance of an institution, with more authority in decision-making and fostering a culture of collaboration to achieve shared goals. Improving faculty leadership in these ways proves to have a direct positive effect on school effectiveness, essential in today’s increasingly competitive education climate. Faculty leaders have increased confidence, greater self-efficacy, improved morale and motivation, and an increased desire to remain in the profession.

In order to achieve a culture of faculty leadership, firstly there must be willingness for participation. This may be impacted by varying influences including senior leadership and faculty relationship, working relationships among faculty, capacity to contribute to decisions and having responsibility and accountability for students. It is therefore necessary to create a collaborative culture, with distributed leadership and associated values. Here are six ways to create an environment in which your faculty can thrive:

1. Curriculum and Policies Review

An institution’s educational curriculum and policies are fundamental to the success of student learning. If possible, having faculty input in the review and development process can allow great opportunities to cultivate an environment of faculty empowerment and leadership. Faculty contributions can also improve the quality of the review, as they have hands-on experience using the curriculum and policies in the classroom.

2. Mentoring

Assign an experienced faculty member to buddy up as a mentor with a new member. They can work closely to lead them on issues such as lesson planning, using the curriculum, resources, processes, and administration. This type of mentoring can create a collaborative culture and supportive environment for new faculty members and help experienced faculty members achieve a sense of responsibility for their team.

3. Faculty Recruitment

Having your more experienced faculty members involved in the recruitment process gives them a huge sense of empowerment and ownership of the teaching team, while improving moral and motivation. Invite some of your faculty to join faculty recruitment sessions and have input on the hiring decision.

4. Specialty Advising

Notice your faculty members who have a special skill and encourage sharing and teaching with their peers. Setting up a scheduled slot where faculty can drop-in to advise and discuss their specialty with their peers, for example with the ‘grammar guru’ or the ‘vocabulary vulture’ etc.

5. Peer Observations

Your faculty can learn a lot from one another by observing each other in the classroom. Encourage them to self-reflect on their teaching skill, identify areas where they would like to develop and give them opportunity to observe a peer from whom they can learn this. For example, a teacher who struggles with teaching grammar observes the ‘grammar guru’ teaching a grammar class.

6. Professional Development

With increased recognition that quality instruction is perhaps the fundamental resource for student learning, it is crucial to ensure faculty are contempt and growing.  Invite faculty members to develop a professional development schedule. They can also assign themselves as the trainer to lead the workshop. If there is any budget for external training, invite them to research options and assign the budget as they see fit

Emma is the Vice President of Standards for EnglishUSA and Senior Operations Manager at EF Education First. Her experience in English Language Programs spans 15 years and 6 countries. She is a regular conference speaker, a published author and awards reviewer for major industry associations. 

Progress Reporting for Private and Small Group Students

by Deanna Berget

The burden of providing effective feedback for every individual learner is often placed on teachers and their limited administrative time outside of class. This can often result in less than effective feedback, negatively impacting learner motivation and progress.

Our primary goals in overhauling our feedback procedures were to address learner preferences in receiving feedback and to decrease the workload placed on teachers. We expected that this would also, as a result, increase the timeliness, level of detail, and actionable value of feedback given as well as the motivation and improvement awareness of our learners.

Our first step to changing our documentation was to elicit feedback from learners on when, how, and what feedback they would prefer to receive.  Their suggestions included:

  • Timely and specific feedback on real world uses of English (presentations, speeches, etc.)
  • Weekly feedback and goal setting for the next week
  • Final overall comments on progress
  • Suggestions for further study (during and after the course)

We also considered teacher preferences, as they would be the primary users of the new documentation.

Their suggestions included:

  • Less paperwork
  • Less time spent on gathering and producing cumulative feedback
  • Better tracking for class material and progress towards goals
  • Better teacher-teacher and teacher-administrator communication

Our first working version attempted to address both learner suggestions and teacher suggestions. 

Using Office365, we created a macro template for our document in Word and shared it with relevant staff via OneDrive ( Other online tools include Google Docs, Hightail, Dropbox, and Amazon Drive. Using online platforms does also create the need for a computer and internet access in every classroom.). Academic management owns the document, but teachers can easily view and edit from any computer, even as someone else is working on it.  The macro ensures that every document maintains the same formatting and limits the input required from teachers.

 

Initially, 3-4 teachers trialed the form with only a handful of students, using predetermined guidelines for procedures and input.  These teachers were able to work out the technical kinks (including accessibility and procedural issues) and allow additional teachers to be trained on faster.  Once more than half of the teachers were using the form, all staff participated in a workshop to determine the minimum standards for using it, including what information should be entered in each section, who should enter it and when. This gradual roll out ensured that there were a number of ‘cheerleaders’ already on board to help spread enthusiasm and positive brainstorming on best practices and that potential problems were mitigated.

Implementation in private classes went quickly, as teachers could use the document as the basis for the discussion.  This helped to limit the amount of admin work outside of class and put more responsibility on the student.  Weekly input included topics covered, work towards student-specific goals, comments on progress, and suggestions for further study.  For small group classes, teachers were required to update any deviations from the curriculum and only enter week-cumulative comments on progress and/or suggestions for further study for each student in the group.

Office365 allows the document owner to view all changes, who entered them, and when.  This makes for easy follow-up with teachers and monitoring completion and quality.

This original version was used with over 300 students over 9 months to ensure we made a solid attempt, had time to work out technical and logistical kinks, zero in on student preferences for feedback, and brainstorm ways to improve the form and the process.

New feedback has suggested that we focus on the day-to-day work, leaving it to the advising teacher to make the connection to the student’s focus areas and goals.  It has also been proposed that we place more emphasis on student interaction with the form and the feedback process to increase students’ language improvement awareness.  We are currently starting trials with an updated version.


 

We have also begun to address the need for learner input in feedback for small group classes.  While the report can easily be opened and updated in class with the student playing an active part, doing so in a group class is much more complicated.  Teachers did not feel comfortable opening one student’s report to the whole class and making time to meet with each student individually during class time was not feasible. 

As a result, we have introduced an alternative way to give whole class feedback, get feedback from all students in the group, and submit it to each individual student’s report.  We have done this using Office365’s Forms tool, which allows users to easily create things like surveys or quizzes and share them to collect responses.  Using QR codes, teachers can use their personal devices or iPads provided by the school to access the feedback form, discuss it in class with the group students, enter comments and feedback, and submit it to academic management, who then uses it to update the individual students’ reports.

  

This current document and procedure have helped to minimize how much paperwork is necessary and cut admin work outside of class, minimize repetition of material due to better recordkeeping on student work, and improve and focus teacher-teacher and teacher-staff communication regarding student work and progress.  Other benefits include increased student input and awareness of progress and needs, easy quality control and monitoring, a professional-looking document in both digital and paper formats, and we can include both progressive and cumulative feedback in a format that is accessible and beneficial to the student.

Deanna Berget is an academic director with 10 years of experience supporting highly motivated students and teachers in their endeavors for personal and professional development.  Co-author of three jokes and lover of efficiency, Deanna hopes to spread passion for education through humor, teamwork, and cultural experiences.

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