Final celebration and team presentations

The original plan for the end of the project (pre-pandemic) was to hold a conference in Abidjan where teachers, mentors and guests could all come together to celebrate the journey we have been on and make plans for the future. Because of Covid, we had to think of alternative ways to bring this phase of the project to a close. To minimise travel, we celebrated in a hotel in Dabou with a live link via Zoom to Manchester. The teachers enjoyed eating together in the hotel and several local guests were able to attend as well.

The day began with welcomes from team members Mamadou Fofana and Appia Kouadio Diaoussie. Invited guests from the local Direction Régionale (Antoine Yao) and the Direction de la Pédagogie et de la Formation Continue (Yacoubou Oyeniran) also attended. Antoine Yao also said a few words about the value of the project for English language teaching in Cote d’Ivoire.

This was followed by a short presentation from the University of Manchester team to outline the aims and processes of the project before handing over to the teachers to present their work. Each team presented for around 20 minutes and then there was time for questions. It was exciting to see how far each team had come over the time of the project and how new understandings of their practice and new ways of doing things in the classroom had developed.

The videos of all the presentations are below.

Introduction to the day and some background
Team Tiapani
Team Bessio
Team Leboutou
Team Akpa Gnagne

In the afternoon, we asked the teachers to reflect on the exploratory research process and what they had learnt from it. Many talked about the increased collaboration between teachers and learners and how the process had helped them to understand their learners better and take their ideas and opinions into account when planning their lessons. Talking to learners and including them in the research process had helped challenge some of the teachers’ assumptions about why their students reacted as they did in different classes. They said it had made them more open-minded and flexible. The collaboration with learners also helped to increase the motivation of both teachers and students.

Another positive outcome of the process had been the collaboration between teachers in their schools; coming together to build a community of practice. This had helped them learn from each other’s experiences, develop their ideas together and also spend time speaking in English. Teachers also said that they had developed new competencies, such as research skills, digital literacy skills and the use of social media for teaching and research. Although teachers had really appreciated the face-to-face workshops and mentoring and there were issues with the different technologies used, they also appreciated the availability of online support. As a project team, we have learnt a lot about conducting this sort of work in a pandemic and the potential of technology to facilitate long-distance mentoring and keep a project like this on track. There is still a lot to learn, and we hope that this is just the beginning. 


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