Teachers’ stories: implementing the innovation Across Bangladesh there are currently 12,500 teachers involved in the English in Action project, which will rise to over 120,000 teachers by 2017. Bangladesh is divided into seven divisions, and each of these divisions is in turn broken into many ‘upazillas’, or small districts. EIA is currently working in 112 upazillas across the country, each of which has one group of ten secondary schools and two groups of ten primary schools involved in the project. Within each school, two teachers take part in the EIA project as well as head teachers. To describe the implementation of the project in a meaningful way, let’s look at it through the eyes of four participating teachers from two of these schools – Mohamed and Ayesha from one school and Arif and Zahir from another – who have recently been observed and interviewed as part of the project’s qualitative research. On the outskirts of Rajshahi in the north west of Bangladesh is the upazilla of Puthia. Within Puthia, 20 primary schools and ten secondary schools are involved in the project. One of the schools involved is Puthia High School where Mohamed and Ayesha are English teachers. Mohamed has been teaching for 13 years, seven of them at this school, and has been involved in other teacher professional development initiatives, namely the Teacher Quality Improvement (TQI) funded by the Asia Development Bank, and the UK-Aid-funded English Language Teacher Improvement Project (ELTIP) project. In both these initiatives, Mohamed went on block training courses as the sole teacher from his school and was away from the classroom for extended periods of time. On returning to his school he reported that he had found it difficult to apply the techniques he had learned to his own classroom. He said that they demonstrated techniques, but it was ‘only face to face and it didn’t stay with us’. Conversely, in his participation with EIA his professional development is based on his classroom experience, not leaving the school but working through a set of materials delivered through a basic Nokia phone, which holds a 4GB SD card, and in print over a 16-month period. He stated several times that it was a ‘radical transformation’. Mohamed is about to take over as Head Teacher in his school, and speculated that his promotion is at least in part a consequence of EIA. By contrast, his EIA partner, Ayesha, is a young, relatively inexperienced teacher and this is her first appointment. EIA teachers are paired up in schools so that they can support each other during their involvement in the project and alleviate the isolation felt in earlier interventions. Occasionally they will visit each other’s classrooms to see what their partner is doing, and they may also take photos or videos. Ayesha was very specific in how useful it was for her to be involved in EIA with a more experienced teacher. The programme encourages them to get together once a week to discuss and reflect upon what they have been doing in their teaching, and they are provided with teacher journals in which they are encouraged to reflect and report back on their classroom practice. This is not always possible due to the teachers’ workload. However, EIA also works with the head teachers and encourages them to develop a learning community within their school, carving out some time for teachers to sit and reflect together. In the participating primary schools, where they have a full teaching role as well as administrative and managerial duties, head teachers have their own bi-monthly 238
| English in Action in Bangladesh
Published on Aug 29, 2014
Published on Aug 29, 2014
The publication, edited by David Hayes offers global perspectives on the Continuing Professional Development (CPD) of English language teach...