TD SIG Forum @ JALT 2023: Growth Mindset in Language Education

The Teacher Development SIG will be holding a forum on “Growth Mindset in Language Education” at the JALT 2023 International Conference in Tsukuba on Saturday November 25th, 15:50-17:20 (Room 304).

The format for this year’s forum will be a workshop in which four workshops leaders will share their own reflections and stories related to the concept of growth mindset, and how they made positive changes to their teaching context. The audience will have an opportunity to discuss and reflect on their own experiences and situations.  

Below are the details of each leader’s workshop. We look forward to seeing you there!

Devon Arthurson (Hakuoh University): A Shift from Efficiency to Support

Being at the same university and teaching the same classes prevented me from challenging myself to be the kind of teacher I wanted to be, resulting in a fixed mindset. Though I was very efficient and organized with the experience to predict issues in lessons, I maintained a barrier between most classes and viewed myself as a classroom manager instead of a supportive instructor. Before starting at a new university in April of 2023, I was concerned I might continue with this mindset. Through reflection journals and community development theories, I am now nurturing a growth mindset and better understanding how I can make the classroom a safer place for learning by being a more supportive teacher. I realized that I needed to be a helper, in addition to an efficient instructor. I am interested to know how a change in other instructors’ perspectives and actions led to a new definition of who they were as language teachers.

Camilo Vilanueva (Nagoya University of Foreign Studies): Helping Others Succeed as Your Greatest Success

There are many obstacles to succeeding as a teacher in Japan. First, I did not initially choose teaching as a career but discovered it. The path I carved out in several different teaching contexts made me relearn how to teach and rely on others for success. Here, I share briefly about my 20-year teaching career, how others have helped me, and how important it is to help others develop and succeed. I started in eikaiwa, worked in elementary school, junior high, high school, corporations, and others. My current teaching context is at university. I have been the owner of a successful eikaiwa for 11 years. After 16 years of teaching, I got a masters and then a US teaching license. I have learned that the best way to lead others is in helping them find paths of their own.

Jason Hobman (Saitama University): Considering Anxiety as Trigger for Repeat Retakes

As university educators, we occasionally find ourselves in the challenging position of having to fail students. This scenario becomes more complex when dealing with a minority of students who persistently fail a course, attempting it three or four times. In my experience, many of these students generally possess a satisfactory English ability, but fail due to poor attendance. One significant factor contributing to these patterns of behaviour may be intense anxiety, which can manifest in ways that are not immediately recognisable. Research indicates that certain signs of anxiety are less apparent than others, making detection a challenge. Given this, we must consider ways in which we can identify anxiety in students before they feel overwhelmed by the class. In this presentation, I will share my personal experiences working with students who exhibit a recurring pattern of failure and how I discerned their underlying anxiety. I will also encourage you to reflect on your own similar experiences with students, and how you might approach a situation differently. By raising awareness of this issue and exploring potential strategies for modification, we can create a more inclusive and supportive educational environment for all students.

Jon Thomas (Hakodate University): Using Reflective Practices to Sustain Pedagogical Approaches and Student Engagement

EFL pedagogies help shape practice throughout one’s career, and often in tandem, teaching values and standards develop according to the individual. Similarly, EFL instructors may face context-specific challenges that lead them to adopt approaches to address the needs of institution or department for the short- or long-term. Course and instructional design require the instructor to analyze and implement variously. Though we strive to effectively reach prescribed learning aims amid many push and pull factors, it is easy to lose sight of the most important means in the process – our pedagogical practices. As time goes on, even the most effective go-to tools and lesson flow may wear thin. In this presentation workshop, a short narrative of such an occurrence and an implemented remedy is shared. The pre-workshop discussion centers on factors that led to student disengagement, specifically concerning cognitive and constructive approaches that formed the basis of his practice. These are depicted in terms of their perceived effectiveness and pedagogical life cycle, and how they can become problematically redundant. The workshop portion gives the audience a chance to find solutions, which will be followed by the presenter’s means and outcomes of the use of reflective practice, reassessment, self-regulation, and reiteration.

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