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TEFL Masterclass – Critical Thinking & Positive Collaboration for Teenagers

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Nicky Partridge – Teacher Trainer & Centre Manager @Peartree Languages.

Nicky Partridge, Founder of Peartree Languages, is both Owner and Manager. With a profound commitment to teaching, she specializes in English for Exams, notably IELTS, amassing nearly two decades of expertise. Her passion extends to teacher training, continually enhancing her skills to provide the best for her students. Proficient in grammar, pronunciation, and natural English, Nicky imparts knowledge both in-person and online.

What you will learn

Critical thinking is not only an essential academic skill for those students who take high-stakes English language exams, it is more crucially a mindset that we all need. However, encouraging critical thinking in the teen classroom can feel like walking through a minefield of potential controversy.

This workshop will include practical strategies on how to generate a positive and collaborative culture in your classroom (F2F and online), with awareness also drawn to safeguarding.

We will consider asynchronous tools that support ongoing critical thinking and finally, participants gather recommendations for tried and tested topics to develop with your teens, and some to avoid!

Workshop Summary

Enhancing Critical Thinking and Collaboration in Education

Nicky Partridge introduces a masterclass aimed at developing critical thinking and positive collaboration among teenage learners. Partridge emphasises the importance of these skills as lifelong assets, not just academic achievements. The session is designed to equip educators with strategies to foster these abilities in young teens, with applicability across various age groups, potentially enriching educators’ own personal growth.

Core Concepts of Critical Thinking and Positive Collaboration

The masterclass delineates critical thinking as a reasoned thought process, uninfluenced by personal biases, highlighting the necessity for openness, analytical processing, effective communication, and evidence-based conclusions. Partridge advocates for establishing a classroom environment that nurtures respectful, non-judgmental, and safe interactions, thereby promoting positive collaboration. Educators are encouraged to act as facilitators, ensuring respectful and constructive dialogue, and to involve students in setting norms, enhancing adherence and fostering a culture of mutual respect and peer support.

Safeguarding and Communication Strategies

Addressing safeguarding, Partridge stresses the importance of setting clear expectations and establishing robust policies to ensure student well-being and create a conducive environment for critical thinking. The use of pre-course information packs and short video clips is recommended for effectively communicating acceptable behaviours and discussion topics to students and their guardians. Additionally, the necessity of moderation on asynchronous learning platforms is highlighted to maintain a safe and respectful exchange of ideas, alongside encouraging students to report any discomfort or misconduct.

Selecting Appropriate Discussion Topics

The masterclass advises on choosing non-controversial, age-appropriate, and relevant discussion topics, such as healthy eating, technology use, and environmental concerns, to avoid sensitive subjects like religion and politics. Emphasising cultural sensitivity and inclusivity, Partridge suggests incorporating students’ suggestions to enrich the topic pool and foster a sense of ownership and relevance, thereby encouraging peer teaching and learning.

Tools and Practices for Engaging Students

Practical activities and digital tools such as Canva, Edmodo, and Padlet are recommended to engage students in critical thinking exercises effectively. These platforms support creative expression and collaboration, with moderation being crucial for maintaining a respectful online environment. Setting clear expectations for the frequency of moderation on asynchronous platforms is crucial, given students’ familiarity with the immediacy of social media, ensuring they remain engaged and understand the moderation process.

In summary, Partridge’s masterclass offers a comprehensive approach to instilling critical thinking and fostering positive collaboration among teenage learners. By integrating clear definitions, awareness of safeguarding, practical discussion prompts, and the strategic use of digital tools, educators are provided with the necessary tools to enhance their students’ educational journey and personal growth, promoting a holistic educational experience in both face-to-face and online settings.

Reflective Questions

Have a quick think about the reflective questions below in order to get the most out of the workshop:

  1. How would you manage a student who dominates the discussion?
  2. How would you manage a student who is very reluctant to contribute?
  3. Should critical thinking be taught as a whole lesson, or as part of a lesson?

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