As the fall semester came to closure, INTERLINK at YU held its annual Professional Development Workshop for its faculty to share knowledge, know-how and classroom experience and to help move forward with clear thoughts and plans for the spring semester.
The workshop, which was held on 8th January, was opened by General Director, Dr. Nebila Deib, who thanked the faculty for their successful efforts during the fall semester in relation to all teaching and administrative issues. Supported by the assistant directors, Mr. Bu Madyan Kahtan and Ms. Helen Honczarenko, Dr. Deib went on to review most important academic and administrative issues of the fall semester and the best ways to advance performance, enhance the students’ learning opportunities and improve the program in various aspects.
INTERLINK at YU faculty then moved to the core of the workshop where they listened to four engaging presentations prepared and delivered by their colleagues, Mr. Georgios Kormpas, Ms. Layla AlKhatib, Ms. Randa Sibahi and Ms. LaNesha Hammett.
Starting the session, Mr. Georgios Kormpas’ s presentation dealt with the controversy of the using technology in the classroom: whether it was a disruptive agent, or a learning facilitator. He highlighted that many teachers tended to adopt new technologies that were introduced to them based on certain books or part of a conference or workshop, and how these technologies work sometimes, and some others tend to be a burden and add extra time to the teacher’s busy schedule. Kormpas went through the theoretical background of both disruptive technology, as well as, disruptive innovation and their practical implementation and use in today’s classroom, highlighting the importance of moderate use of technology in the classroom side by side with conventional means of teaching.
From technology in the classroom, the workshop proceeded to a presentation about benchmarks by Ms. Layla AlKhatib. The presentation focused on contextualizing grammar, vocabulary, and lesson contents with the projects and benchmarks inside the sessions and into the students’ course portfolios. AlKhatib’s presentation helped decipher the benchmarks with practical examples and backing it with literature and statistics.
The third presentation highlighted the importance of reflective practice in teaching and learning as a standard practice. In this presentation, Ms. Randa Sibahi explained the meaning of reflective practice as taking an active role in learning and recognizing one’s personal responsibility for one’s own lifelong learning. Her presentation focused on exploring the perceptions of EFL teachers on reflective teaching as a tool for teacher development and its challenges in the higher education sector in Saudi Arabia. Sibahi recommended that professional development of staff should provide in-service teachers with professional training about reflective practice and work with college administrators to produce a culture of inquiry in their teacher-learners, to meet the increasing interest in the role of reflection in professional development, especially amongst teacher educators in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
The last presentation was about core projects and was given by Ms. LaNesha Hammett who focused on the ORN 4C Group Core Project, Media Analysis. As project-based education is the foundation upon which the English language courses at INTERNLINK at YU are structured, and as the teaching and learning that unfold in the classroom are centered around a core project that is scaffolded over an eight-week term, Hammett explored the approaches and methods that she developed in teaching that course, which facilitate student learning, particularly how to create a “driving question,” which helps make the project relevant for the students, as well as other best practices, interactive activities, and a variety of important “takeaways.”