Teachers as agents of transformation through their engagement in
cross disciplinary innovative projects in the English classrooms (DATE)
Obra Social “la Caixa”. RecerCaixa 2016. 2016ACUP-001 (2017-2020)
Given the poor results obtained by secondary students in the state-sponsored English competency evaluations administered at the end of secondary education, in which more than half the 4th year students had not achieved basic levels of command of the target language, there is an evident need for revision of foreign language teaching approaches to this disenfranchised student cohort. With this in mind, the DATE project proposal presented here will be closely linked to an already existent initiative entitled ‘Let’s go!’, in which the teaching staff of the two high school is working in close collaboration with the Fundació Autònoma Solidària and the Grup de Recerca en Ensenyament i Interacció Plurilingües (GREIP), both at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona. This initiative holds two premises: improving the development of communication skills in English of socioeconomically underprivileged youth will make a significant contribution towards a more socially just education in Catalonia and this improvement in English skills of this disempowered population of youth will translate into more equitable job opportunities for them in the future.
The research project presented here departs from the groundwork established by ‘Let’s Go!’ and is grounded on the belief that significant teaching innovation necessary to improve the students results in English is only possible through initiatives which empower in-service teachers and get them to become true agents of transformative proposals to enhance effective language education practices in secondary schools and true agents in the development of effective training practices addressed to preservice language teachers. Thus, the research project will serve as a means to promote changes in classroom practices and changes in teacher education programmes by promoting the creation of collaborative teaching teams formed by members of the research group and teachers already exercising their profession in the two high schools involved. Thus, by applying the principles of ‘collaborative research’, research team members will work hand-in-hand with the two teacher cohorts in the design of innovative language teaching projects that are interdisciplinary and technology-based, while collecting and analysing natural data from the discussions emerging during team sessions devoted to the design or to the evaluation of the implementation of the interdisciplinary projects.
The results will contribute to the development of a model of teacher education that nourishes the joint work of the research team, the educational centres and pre-service teachers to ensure the development of reflective practice and professional skills as a tool to guarantee students’ learning success.