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Cooperative Learning as Method and Model in Second Language Teacher Education.

Carla Chamberlin-Quinlisk, The Pennsylvania State University

Relationships are at the forefront of every activity, and that is true whether we are working with our students or our colleagues. (Wild, Mayeaux, & Edmonds, 2008, p. 9)

This paper describes the integration of a series of cooperative learning activities into a graduate level teacher education course, Collaborative Teaching in ESL, for in-service teachers in one of the largest urban school districts in the United States. Because some of the challenges identified by the ESL teachers center on status and relationship issues with other teachers in their schools, this course in collaborative teaching focused on relational dynamics such as trust, reciprocity, and approachability as central to successful implementation of collaborative practice. Cooperative learning (CL) activities were integrated into the program in order to bring the ESL teachers together in groups to explore their own values and expectations for learning as well as their own communication styles that encourage or hinder collegiality. The research question asks how CL contributes to teachers understanding of themselves as communicators, collaborators, and agents of change. From a qualitative analysis of observer notes, journal entries, classroom discussions, group activities, and autobiographies, evidence of teacher learning is presented and discussed. The paper highlights how dimensions of cooperative learning can be used not only as methodology in second language teacher education but also as a model for developing collaborative relationships between ESL and content area teachers.

In many schools in which English is taught as a second language, language specialist teachers are expected to partner, or collaborate, with content-area teachers to provide effective instruction for language minority students. Although forms of collaboration vary from school to school, it is often the responsibility of second language educators to establish a productive professional relationship with content-area teachers in order to best serve their students. The field of second language teaching and learning has responded to this challenge in the last few years by developing comprehensive strategies for content-based ESL instruction, helping teachers and schools to infuse English language learning into their curriculum. In addition, a small number of ESL educators have studied cases of team-teaching and collaborative language teaching experiences across the globe and have identified some of the complex, interpersonal challenges of establishing and maintaining equitable partnerships. The project described here builds on this work by focusing on how a teacher education program can address interpersonal dynamics of teacher-teacher collaboration by integrating cooperative learning activities into a masters level course on collaboration. A

Cooperative Learning as Method and Model in Second Language Teaching

qualitative analysis of classroom discussions, reflective journals, visual artifacts, written assignments, and observer notes explores how in-service elementary and middle school teachers developed a sense of themselves as professionals, communicators, and agents of change.

Collaboration in second language learning

As the demands for teaching English as a second, foreign, or additional language has increased in schools around the world, the importance of language teachers opportunities to work collaboratively with content area teachers has also become recognized as an educational imperative (Crandall & Kaufmann, 2002, 2005; Davidson, 2006; Hurst & Davidson, 2005). In response, content-based language teaching strategies have become part of the curriculum of teacher education and professional development programs for language educators. Such programs effectively deal with lesson-planning and strategies for integrating language learning into content lessons in various disciplines (Echevarria, Vogt, & Short, 2004; Snow & Brinton, 1997). In addition, discussions centering on the benefits and rewards of collaborative partnerships in diverse contexts, as well as policy initiatives to support collaboration, attest to the positive rewards of teamwork (Bourne, 1997; Crandall, 1998a,1998b, 1998; Nunan, 1992; Wild, Mayeaux, & Edmonds, 2008). However, this focus on collaboration as strategic lesson planning overlooks some of the inherent complexities of collegial relationships, institutional policy, and professional climate that are at the very core of collaboration. Collaborative relationships among teachers have recently been examined as complicated negotiations that require attention to professional, linguistic, and policy needs. Arkoudis (2006) highlights the ways in which teachers in an Australian setting discursively create their position within a relationship and how they are impacted by institutional policies and practices. She found, for example, that ESL and content area teachers approach each other with divergent beliefs about teaching and learning, but she concludes that these differences need not create barriers but rather establish the conditions for dialogue. Creese (2002, 2005, 2006) examines discourse in collaborative settings in London schools, emphasizing how language specialists and content area teachers talk differently about their work within their school communities, reinforcing an unequal relationship. While mainstream teachers are viewed as having something to teach, language specialists are discursively constructed as providing support rather than legitimate content. Through analysis of collaboration between EFL and content area teachers in an English medium school in Asia, Davidson (2006) challenges assumptions that teachers enter into collaboration with a clear and shared conceptualization of the task and that ESL teachers need no guidance in developing collaborative relations, other than a sympathetic and supportive school environment and cooperative partners (p. 456). Davidson found that the most successful partnerships involved the articulation of teacher beliefs in relation to motivation and sense making, focused on specific individuals and achievements, involved adaptation to each teachers lexicon, or expertise, and used personal referents to support the development of an equal, participatory relationship. Davidsons developing framework, however, recognizes various levels of collaboration including passive resistance, compliance, accommodation, convergence, and creative co-construction. Overall, some partnerships discussed in previous research involved teachers who are willing to talk to each other and motivated to help students. From these we learn that equal, trusting, and reciprocal relationships characterize successful collaboration. Unfortunately many partnerships remain plagued by the shadow of contrived collegiality in which

Cooperative Learning as Method and Model in Second Language Teaching

collaboration is mandated by a school administration and viewed unequally as one partner sharing expertise with a novice (Hargreaves, 1994). Within the contexts in which collaboration is imposed, however, I believe that ESL teachers can be better prepared to cultivate productive partnerships. This paper describes how a teacher education course developed for in-service teachers earning a graduate degree in Teaching English as a Second Language positions professional identity and interpersonal communication as critical to building trusting, equitable relationships for collaboration. Building on the previous literature that recognizes teacher identity, beliefs, and values as having a powerful effect on interactions, the course incorporates dimensions of relational communication (verbal and nonverbal) into a broader understanding of how collaboration can be realized in various school contexts. When given the unique opportunity to develop a two course series on collaboration, I realized the potential for focusing first on what productive collaboration might look and sound like, followed by a second course in which a practicum experience would take place. To begin, I found myself drawing on my knowledge of nonverbal communication in language teaching (Chamberlin-Quinlisk, 2000, 2008) and my approach to intercultural education that encourages students to discover their own cultural identities as a basis for cultivating intercultural relationships with others. In essence, I proposed an initial course in which ESL teachers could thoroughly examine their own identities as teachers and the intercultural relationships that define their work as a foundation for nurturing collaborative partnerships.

Making connections: Cooperative learning, collaboration, and intercultural development

It makes sense that a course about collaboration should also rely on a collaborative style of learning and teaching, not only to convey the content, but to reinforce the types of interactions that are at the heart of collaboration. In particular, cooperative learning activities provide a method to examine teacher knowledge and relational/intercultural dynamics while also serving as a model for collaboration. Through the development of courses in Collaborative Teaching in ESL, a natural merger with the philosophy and principles of Cooperative Learning (Johnson & Johnson, 1989; Roger & Johnson, 1994) emerged as a guiding framework for the program and its goals and objectives. Table 1 outlines some basic principles of Cooperative Learning (Roger & Johnson, 1994) in the left column, with the corresponding characteristic of collaborative teaching summarized on the right. These strong connections render Cooperative Learning (CL) as a model for collaboration in culturally and linguistically diverse settings. As both model and method, the overall aim is for the teachers in this program to work in collaboration with their peers to improve professional development, classroom instruction, and ultimately learning outcomes for their English language learners. Hundreds of past research studies have shown cooperative learning experiences to promote creativity, improve self-esteem, cultivate positive interpersonal experiences, and increase both affective and cognitive perspective taking (Johnson & Johnson, 1989). Moreover, as cultural stereotyping of ESL students remains an unfortunate reality, and as ESL is sometimes marginalized as a discipline (Creese, 2000), it is especially important that partnerships among ESL and content teachers recognize collaboration as an opportunity to broaden ones social perspective and intercultural imagination. `

Cooperative Learning as Method and Model in Second Language Teaching

Table 1: Relationships among Cooperative Learning, Collaborative Teaching, and Intercultural Development
Cooperative Learning Clearly perceived positive interdependence Collaborative Teaching Requires an understanding of how second language teaching and content area (disciplines) are intertwined; involves ability to transcend isolation and territoriality Requires consistent and frequent meetings in which teachers have opportunity to talk about teaching in a reflective way, provide each other with feedback, develop trust, motivation, and decisionmaking skills. Participating teachers must be accountable to each other and in doing so they move forward in their own professional development. Effective communication is at the heart of collaborative teaching. Participants must understand communication styles (verbal and nonverbal), trust building, conflict resolution, and negotiation of meaning Requires consistent reflection on the process of collaboration, collegial relationships, challenges/ strengths, and effect on student learning Intercultural Development All teachers must envision themselves as contributing participants in a multicultural community. Interaction among teachers and students from various cultural groups within a community does not always happen on its own. Interactions must be facilitated and cultivated In working towards a common goal, members focus on their similarities rather than differences

Considerable face-to face interaction

Clearly perceived individual accountability and personal responsibility to achieve the groups goals. Frequent use of the relevant interpersonal and small-group skills

Effective communication in multicultural school districts is challenged by teachers group memberships and multiple identities. Intercultural adaptability must be developed. Development of intercultural communication competency is neither a linear nor finite process. It must be regarded as an on-going developmental process that involves mistakes and uncertainty as well as rewards.

Frequent and regular group processing of current functioning to improve the groups future effectiveness

Research Question
Based on the overlapping ideologies described above, a series of cooperative learning tasks involving teachers exploration of their personal, professional identities and communication styles was developed as a first step for building collaborative relationships. The following question is addressed to explore the outcomes of this learning experience: How do cooperative learning activities contribute to teachers understanding of themselves as professionals, collaborative communicators, and agents of change? This question does not focus on the specific outcomes of one activity, but considers the overall impact of CL on how in-service teachers can make connections among their work, their professional identity, and their communication styles that will have an impact on their collaborative experiences.

Cooperative Learning as Method and Model in Second Language Teaching

Program context
Like many school districts in the United States today, the IQ School District (IQSD, pseudonym) is trying to meet the needs of rapidly growing population of students for whom English is not a first language. IQSD serves 14,000 English language learners representing over 75 primary languages. This district represents 10% of the states K-12 population but over 25% of the states low income students. Transitional bilingual and ESL programs are established in 145 of the districts 260 schools. Many strengths have been identified in these programs and services, but challenges remain. In the school districts required annual review (2005-2006) nine specific challenges were identified, with one directly emphasizing Professional development that fosters collaboration between ESL and content area teachers to develop literacy and academic skills One way in which this challenge is being met involves a collaborative effort by institutions of higher education to offer an MA in ESL to in-service teachers. The masters program is designed to meet the needs of the teachers and school district specifically. At the request of IQSD, teachers take a three-credit course in Collaborative Teaching in ESL, followed by another 3-credit course, Practicum in Collaborative Teaching in ESL as part of their 39 credit program.


The first cohort of teachers, divided into two class groups, began the MA program in the Fall of 2007 and will be the first to complete their degree. Each semester new cohorts enter the program, with 160 teachers ultimately completing the degree during the funded period. One group from the first cohort (N= 16) participated in this exploratory study as part of their class curriculum. This population consists of 15 females and 1 male from different ethnic, cultural backgrounds (African-American, n= 1 ; Latina, n= 9; Anglo-American, n= 4, Polish, n= 1; Cambodian-American, n= 1). All but three of the participants are bilingual (English and one other native language), all work in elementary schools and middle schools, with teaching experience ranging from 2- 28 years (3 working less than 5 years, 7 teaching 5-10 years, and 6 with over 20 years teaching experience). A preliminary survey of the cohort (six months before the class in Collaboration took place) revealed that their schools expectations for collaborative work takes three basic forms: 1) collaborating with all teachers during weekly grade group meetings in which student achievement is discussed, 2) collaborating (supporting) all teachers in a designated grade level, 3) serving an entire school through pull-out ESL instruction. They also described some of the challenges to collaboration based on their personal experiences: Teachers guard their territory in their classroom pretty consistently, i.e. they want to be largely in charge and perceive another teachers co-teaching with them as additional work in their already overloaded schedule. Some non-ESL teachers express the view that ELLs are lazy, they are able to do the work but choose not to, they dont listen. I feel very alienated at times. The teachers are not taking advantage of our current working situation. We are given time to collaborate, but it has not been fully utilized. Other challenges noted by several teachers include the lack of time or opportunity to collaborate with peers, close-mindedness of content area teachers to language and cultural issues, and a low level of buy-in from individuals and the school toward the

Cooperative Learning as Method and Model in Second Language Teaching

potential value of collaborative teaching. These remarks are included here to identify the participants general dispositions toward collaboration based on prior experiences.

Cooperative learning activities

A series of cooperative learning activities were used in class to guide students through stages of reflection and discovery about their professional identity and its impact on instruction and relationships. The activities also elicit communicative behaviors required for collaborative teaching, thereby applying the cooperative techniques that the teachers will later use in their practicum experience. At several points during the class sessions, the two groups of cohorts were brought together for designated activities. This created interactions among teachers who had not previously been in classes together and had had little or no previous contact with one another. The instructors agreed that this mixing would help to simulate partnerships in which the two teachers do not have a shared working history. The activities fall into three general categories, though connections among these three areas were consistently emphasized throughout the class.

Teaching Autobiographies:

Teaching autobiographies consisted of in-class discussions about teaching experiences, beliefs and practices with the goal of identifying teachers reasoning for decisions they make as teachers and colleagues. Prompts were given, for example, for teachers to talk about their best and worst classroom experiences as a student, their familys value on education, their first experience as a teacher, etc. (See Appendix for list of prompts). Discussions in pairs and small groups served as a pre-writing exercise for the teachers to construct a written autobiography at home. In class the following day, the teachers were paired with students from another section of the course to share their autobiographies with each other. Two weeks later the autobiographies were once again brought out as the teachers met in small groups to re-read their own writing and generate a group list of core beliefs about teaching that they all share.


During the second weekend of classes, teachers worked in reading groups to present the main ideas from journal articles they had read during the break. Each group was assigned a different article and then given the task of leading a class presentation of main ideas and why other teachers need to read this article. Working in small groups allowed the teachers to talk about their impressions of the article, their critiques of some of the ideas, and the points they determined to be meaningful to their work. After a lengthy class discussion of all of the articles, the teachers conveyed once again in their small groups for a second task. Each group was given a large poster paper and colored pencils and asked to create a visual model of collaboration. These posters were presented by the groups then displayed for the remainder of the weekend and referred to several times during other discussions and activities.


Also during the second weekend of classes, the instructors of both groups in this cohort covered materials and mini-lectures about the functions of verbal and nonverbal communication and conflict management styles in building relationships. The two classes were mixed again to create groups of four, two from each class. Each group was given two pieces of paper with one word written on each: respect, approachability, trust, or honesty. Groups were then directed to act out what each of these concepts looks like (nonverbally) and sounds like ( verbally). Later, the teachers were given several written measures of communication styles to review at

Cooperative Learning as Method and Model in Second Language Teaching

home and then asked to reflect and write about their own strengths and weaknesses as a communicator.

Data collection and analysis

The data collected from this class consists of in- class observations by instructor, written reflective assignments from the students, instructor notes from class discussions and presentations, journal entries, artifacts (posters), and anonymous written evaluations. From the qualitative and interpretive data collected through the various means described above, a grounded theoretical approach was used to generate a rich and emergent description of teachers (re) conceptualizations of themselves as professionals and colleagues (Glaser & Strauss, 1967). Because the research question focuses on connections among teachers beliefs, practices, and identities, this analysis is also informed by Clandinin and Connellys (1987, 2000) constructs of personal practical knowledge and professional knowledge landscapes in which teachers are seen as having a history with moral, emotional and aesthetic dimensions (2000, p.9) that take form in stories that are continuously reconstructed. In other words, the teachers ability to reflect and reshape their ideas about collaboration are interpreted here as the positive outcome of cooperative learning activities that are now part of their professional histories.

After careful reading of the data generated in class discussions, notes, activities, and reflective writing assignments, several patterns emerged. The very nature of this content, however, in which strong links among identity, communication style, and collaboration are emphasized undermines distinct categorization. Although overlap is apparent, I categorized the data into three general categories or themes to best describe the teachers understanding of themselves as professionals, collaborative communicators, and agents of change. These themes include a better understanding of how personal experiences shape teaching and core beliefs about education and collaboration, new or deeper understandings of collaboration as more than contrived collegiality (Hargreaves, 1994), and more concrete conceptualizations of a teachers role as an agent of change in collaboration. Selected excerpts from the data, particularly those linked directly to cooperative learning activities in class, are shared below to illustrate each category.

Personal experiences and core beliefs

In this first excerpt a teacher reflects on her own communication style. She discusses working with one peer in class whose dominant communication style and experience caused her to conjure my thoughts quietly, and mentions another classmate with whom she feels more comfortable sharing her ideas. Here, she makes connections between her culture and professional experiences: For me, my culture greatly influences my group interactions and collaborations. For instance, women were expected to be subservient, lower or younger status individuals should not question their elders, one should not complain when faced with rough times, and controversy should be avoided at all times. Interestingly, I am more aware of my own behaviors in group dynamics. I am realizing that controversy and disagreements can be good. If I dont complain, my concerns will not be known and avoided issues will not resolve on its own. After the in-class exercise in which groups performed verbal and nonverbal skits of relational concepts (approachability, honesty, trust, respect) another teacher also saw

Cooperative Learning as Method and Model in Second Language Teaching

links between what she perceives as a culturally influenced way of expressing herself and her communication with students and colleagues: I am very emotional, and people can picture my feelings just by looking at my face. Although, my body orientation and facial expressions are very direct and frequent my vocal expressiveness are loud due to my culture. These characteristics of communication due to my cultural aspects help me in my teaching practices because I tend to be clear and precise with a loud tome of voice.However, my rate could be a weakness especially if I am talking English. I speak very fast in Spanish and sometimes I fell like I am saying a tongue-twisting because I try to speak English as I speak Spanish. This is a limitation I have to consider in order of being more effective with my students and colleagues. The autobiography assignment, which intended to help teachers articulate their beliefs about teaching and learning and how these beliefs might affect their interactions with colleagues, inspired individual reflection in journals as well as insightful small group and class discussions. One teacher shares: Specifically, the autobiography was very enlightening as a tool to help me understand others as well as myself. I am naturally introspective and analytical so a review of my history is very interesting to me. When talking with colleagues and parents I find myself asking many of the questions that were covered in the autobiography. To another teacher, the autobiography identified her core beliefs about education that had been fostered in a family in which many of her relatives were also teachers. Her personal history helped her to explain the high standards she holds for her students and colleagues, as well as the frustration she feels when the standards are not upheld. My cultural identity and social background have clearly shaped my expectations of myself and my colleagues. I grew up in a culture that rewards courage and eloquence in interactions with others by putting a person with such qualities on a pedestal, but it is to an equal degree merciless to those who choose to perform social/professional functions and a mediocre. Therefore, many people in my childhood environment grew up with the maxim, make sure you have something worthwhile to say before you say it in public. And that degree of self-consciousness accompanied me for a long time. Now, I am afraid, I am loosening my standards, so I have to keep myself in check. In contrast, another teacher experienced growing up in a world where young women were not encouraged to finish high school. When her mother told her that she could not return to school, her teacher visited her house and convinced her mother to let her stay. Years later, after moving to the United States without a background in English, she drove by a local university and told herself that she would one day go there. After working in a factory and enrolling in an adult education program, a teacher told her about a program that would be good for her. This program was in education at the local university she had passed by so many years before. Several times in class, this teacher shared stories in which her giving students extra time and caring resulted in success. The two teachers described above seem to impose very different expectations on their students and on themselves, and these differences were apparent in class discussions. Once they gained more insight into each others experiences, however, common values and beliefs emerged. For all teachers, after sharing their autobiographies with a previously unknown colleague from the other class section, sharing their stories proved to enhance their understanding of one another. All were asked to call out one word to describe the experience. The following list comes from instructor notes: alliance, refreshing, confirming, revealing, enlightening, secure, inspiring, bonding, honest, fun, eye-

Cooperative Learning as Method and Model in Second Language Teaching

opening, trust, real, comfortable, small world, encouraging. At this point the teachers realized the power of sharing professional experiences with colleagues as a way of establishing some common ground for collaboration. During the second week of classes, as we talked about how to find common ground and negotiate conflicts with colleagues, particularly disagreements about core beliefs about teaching, I asked the teachers to look again at their written autobiographies. This activity was added at a moments decision in response to a negative strand of comments generated from discussion of conflicts. For example, the teachers began to talk about the contrived nature of collaboration, an assumption by content teachers that ESL students need to be saved, the expectations that ESL teachers have a magic wand to fix language learners, the lack of community for ESL teachers in most schools, and a perception that as ESL teachers they will report content teachers for not doing something correctly. As the negativity spread, I found it necessary to redirect the conversation to what could be done to counteract some of the conflicts and tensions. In pairs, they generated a list of core values from what they had written a couple of weeks earlier. As they then talked about these core beliefs as a group, I recorded each one and read the list back to them. As a group they then identified the core beliefs about teaching that also apply to their collaborative relationships. Within minutes they had cooperatively identified values that can be transferred from the classroom to collaborative relationships: Teaching involves a balance between being stern and caring. Make expectations explicit and develop mutual respect. School should be a safe place. We have to model behaviors to get students to believe. Be accountable for what you do. Realize that teaching is not easy Respect families, culture, and language. Reflect on ourselves and our actions everyday. Forgive ourselves when we make mistakes. Let children have some control or ownership over what they are doing. Give students choices and respect their decisions. Everyone deserves the same attention and care. This spontaneous group activity initiated conversation about some of the tangible things ESL teachers can do to improve the quality of collaborative relationships and served as a segue to the final assignment for the class in which teachers develop their own framework, or guidelines, for collaboration.

Reconceptualizations of collaboration

In their journals and reflective writing assignments, many teachers described a new way of conceptualizing collaboration that they attribute to participating in this class. As teachers, our collaborative efforts must be visual and modeled. Students need to see that we are working together and that we support one another. It is not just the students in our classroom that we should be concerned about but the whole learning communities in the school. My perception of collaboration has changed since taking this class. I never took into account all the complexities involved when working with other people. One of the most important lessons among many has been how one approaches a potential collaboration. This course has given me the tools to initiate more collaborative processes with insight and patience. Previously, I might not have known how to gracefully approach a content teacher to discuss a collaboration. It seemed as though such an attempt might add to the content teachers growing

Cooperative Learning as Method and Model in Second Language Teaching


burden, rather than to relieve it. I might also have expected wither instant resistance and simply dropped the idea. Now I see that incremental steps are probably the forerunner of a full-blown partnership. As trust and a comfort-level builds, the collaboration might grow from a few small steps to a true collaboration. Other teachers remarked that this course validated their previous conceptions of collaboration as beneficial for both teachers and students, but added a new realization of the nature of collaborative relationships: What this course has done for me is shown me the steps or strategies to begin such delicate relationships with other teachers. I have always believed in collaboration being an important aspect of teaching and learning; that has not changed much in the last couple of weeks. However, I realized I had a very different idea of what collaboration and partnerships look like and sound like. I must start observing and reflecting upon my own behavior as a colleague. The same teacher added later, We have been bombarded with tools and techniques, strategies of how to adapt lessons for ESL learners, but we have not spent much quality time in establishing the ground rules of the very same partnerships that will make (or break) the collaboration successful or even tolerable. Moreover, the cooperative assignment in which teachers were asked to identify key components of collaboration and then create a visual representation of these ideas resulted in four compelling posters that metaphorically described their shared conceptualizations of collaboration. One group visualized collaboration as a fishbowl with ESL and ESL-friendly teachers working together smoothly for others to see. Serving as models, these teachers inside the fishbowl reach out to other teachers by modeling success. The second group drew collaboration as a wall in which separate bricks were labeled attitude, respect, conflict management, negotiation, integrate, problem solving, and two others with ??? to designate the unpredictable and unknown. This wall is held up by the strength of the collaborating teachers. Third group drew a rising sun labeled students as the energy source that both shed light upon and learned from the surrounding communities of ESL teachers, content teachers, administrators, and parents. The fourth group visualized the hands of ESL and content area teachers as joining together to lift up the student.

Figure 1 A Bridge for Communication depicts their drawing and the components identified as key to effective collaboration: tactful, listening skills,

Cooperative Learning as Method and Model in Second Language Teaching


commitment to positive outcome, preparation time, compromise, honesty, precise language, mutual respect, patience, establish roles. In all cases, the posters created by the teachers focused on human agency in creating successful collaboration rather than the administrative constraints that had earlier dominated conversations.

Teachers as agents of change

After small group and class discussions of journal articles in which the marginalization of ESL teachers was highlighted as a challenge to collaboration, this current special education teacher, just beginning a career in ESL reflected: Another area that this class made me realize is the fact that many of my colleagues do not perceive an ESL teacher on the same level as a content or mainstream teacher. I may be naive but this is not the vibe I get in my school. I must be cognizant of this perception and establish myself as a knowledgeable ESL expert. One teacher wrote a reflection on an activity that took place earlier that day with colleagues from the other section of this course. As we had focused on the relational power of nonverbal communication in class discussion, this teacher noted how the strategies brought up in class could be directly and effectively applied, empowering her to help shift her group from wandering attentiveness back to cooperation. I think we all had respect toward each other, but as we talked or discussed the topic things changed.We relayed our opinions through previous experiences. We did not listen as attentively as we should, we were more focused on establishing our beliefs. As the conversation developed we did start to listen more attentively. Some chose not to. You could tell by their body languageI enjoyed watching the dynamics. I used some tactics that I considered collaborative, such as body language, looking at people, etc. It worked. Similarly another teacher commented on a personal shift in strategy: In some ways, I may have to put my ego aside and make several patient overtures before anything gels, but ultimately, all parties will benefit from a collaboration. In a class discussion about several assigned journal articles, the teachers began to express some of the challenges they face in their schools. Although a small number of the teachers (four) talked openly about their positive experiences with their non-ESL colleagues, the majority expressed grave concerns. Instructor notes from the conversation recorded one teachers feeling of wanting to scream into my pillow at night when thinking of all of the strategies she learned for second language acquisition and how these strategies are seen as remedial by students and other teachers. She added that the perceptions of the content-area teacher being the real teacher in her school were part of her reality. Other teachers then chimed in with similar stories, and finally, one teacher shifted the conversation back to their own agency by saying, Its the way we present ourselves. As language teachers are we too meek? We need to do this; we need to get in. From here the discussion moved to more concrete ways for ESL teachers to establish their professional credibility. As one teacher later described an episode at her school in her journal, this personal challenge to be more proactive became a reality. After listening to another teacher at her school describe an upsetting situation with a student, she reflected: It was an opportunity to collaborate and there was no time to discuss it because we were both on our way to teach our classes. She leaves right after school. I will grab her on Monday. We could set up a reading program for them in all their classes. I am excited. We always talk about doing project together but somehow we do not follow through. How can we maintain that excitement we feel in

Cooperative Learning as Method and Model in Second Language Teaching


September? How can we prevent the negative pull that some teachers seem more susceptible to than others from draining us of our enthusiasm we bring back with us in September? This teacher is very negative and I hesitate to bring up our collaboration. I will. I think it will work because she really does care about the students. What really brings her down is she thinks she is the only one who does. I will talk to her. In this reflection the teacher recognized the social dynamics of schooling and the negativity and isolation that occurs. She posed some important questions about the conditions that seem to drain teachers of their enthusiasm. She was able to see the other teachers reaction to this one episode as situated event and not a reflection of the teachers lack of motivation and caring. She decided to take a chance. The next day she wrote, Surprise! Mrs. K. thought it was a good idea to collaborate. I also discussed it with another teacher, Mrs. D.

To revisit the research question of how cooperative learning activities contribute to teachers understanding of themselves as professionals, collaborativ e communicators, and agents of change, the qualitative data presented in the previous section offer examples drawn from the class that refer explicitly to what the teachers gained from working with each other. First, from creating, sharing, and reviewing their teaching autobiographies, teachers not only made connections among their experiences and beliefs, but also experienced the value in hearing others stories. The personal practical knowledge became apparent not only as a part of their histories as teachers but also as part of their current and continuously developing teacher identity. They articulated the reasoning behind their core beliefs and decision making (Johnson, 1999) and also recognized the need for improving their relationships with students and colleagues. I believe that active participation in cooperative learning activities rendered the possibilities for continuous development as tangible and feasible. The teachers did not leave the class with a sense that collaboration would be impossible or easy, but instead recognized it as a process that requires personal investment and patience. As one teacher concluded, This class was very effective and productive. It let you reflect upon whether or not you are willing to accept or tolerate. It let us know that there were stages and that it is a process that could be slow. Also it gave us the opportunity to apply concepts of collaboration as we learn about partnership. We actually practice, reinforce, and even felt what it was to collaborate. To feel what it is like to collaborate is strong evidence for the effectiveness of cooperative learning activities as both method and model for this course. Working cooperatively also helped teachers to discuss the challenges and benefits of collaboration that they brought with them to this class. As described in previous research, the institutional mandates for collaboration, the marginalization of ESL in some schools, and the inequitable relationships between ESL and content area teachers are real and impossible to ignore. Likewise, the collaboration that occurs when two or more like-minded teachers pull together to help each other and students is part of many teachers informal experiences in collaboration. The reality that lies somewhere between resistance and cooperation, however, is where many of these teachers find themselves in their schools. What they need are the tools to understand what they can do to facilitate collaboration when the content teacher needs to be convinced of the legitimization of ESL and of the positive outcomes of collaboration. As the teachers moved through a series of cooperative learning activities, their

Cooperative Learning as Method and Model in Second Language Teaching


conceptualizations of collaboration as a process of relationship building, as well as cooperation and learning, were cultivated. They shifted from talking about collaboration as a thing to describing collaboration as a process. Finally, teachers viewing themselves as agents of change, or having some power to influence their relationships with colleagues is an important step toward successful collaboration. The teachers in this class began to question how they themselves might feed into negative perceptions about ESL and what they can do to initiate changes. An important part of working with their peers from the other class was that it allowed the teachers to experience working with an unfamiliar partner and how commonalities can be drawn out through conversation and careful listening. At the same time, a two of the participants experienced working with partners with whom they did not see eye-to-eye and were unable to reconcile their differences during the class activities. Conversations about possible strategies for better communication took place after these experiences, but the class had to come to the conclusion that some differences cannot be easily mediated. Still, as a class, the teachers agreed that they do not give up on their students, so they should not so easily give up on their colleagues. Although these teachers noted a missing link in this class ---the inclusion of content area teachers-- they did come to recognize the sometimes subtle verbal and nonverbal strategies that they can use to cultivate and maintain productive partnerships.

Overall, cooperative learning activities as both method and model for a course on Collaboration in Teaching ESL creates a safe climate in which to talk about individual identity and its impact on the ways in which we teach and communicate with others. In this particular class, CL illustrates how trust can be built by allowing individuals to see what is unique about their experiences as well as what they have in common. CL gave the teachers opportunity to envision themselves as active participants in multicultural and multidisciplinary communities, to interact with opportunity for feedback and reflection, and to be accountable to each other for learning. CLs emphasis on interpersonal and small group skills meshed perfectly with the notion of relational communication as a foundation for successful collaboration. Finally, cooperative learning reminds participants that learning is a developmental process that may be interrupted by mistakes, uncertainties, and reshaping of beliefs and assumptions. Collaboration likewise involves tensions, continuous reflection, trust, and sometimes even forgiveness. Although the ESL teachers role in collaboration is only one part of a complex dynamic, it merits a central place in teacher education and professional development.

Arkoudis, S. (2006). Rough ground between ESL and mainstream teachers. The International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism, 9, 415-433. Bourne, J. (1997). The continuing revolution: Teaching as learning in the mainstream multilingual classroom. In C. Leung & C. Cable (Eds.) English as an additional language (pp. 77-88). York: NALDIC. Chamberlin, C. R. (2000). Pre-service ESL teachers perceptions of trust in supervisors. TESOL Quarterly, 34, 4, 653-673. Chamberlin-Quinlisk, C. (2008). Nonverbal communication in second language classrooms: A review (pp. 25-44). In S. G. McCafferty & Stam, G. (Eds.) Gesture: Second language acquisition and classroom research. New York: Lawrence Erlbaum. Clandinin, D.J. & Connelly, F.M. (1987). Teachers personal knowledge: What counts as personal in studies of the personal. Journal of Curriculum Studies, 19, 487-500.

Cooperative Learning as Method and Model in Second Language Teaching


Clandinin, D.J. & Connelly, F.M. (2000). Narrative inquiry: Experience and story in qualitative research. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. Crandall, J. (1998). Collaborate and cooperate teacher education for integrating language and content instruction. Forum, 36,1. Crandall, J. (1998). The expanding role of the elementary ESL teacher: Doing more than teaching language. ESL Magazine, 1 (4), 10-14. Crandall, J.A. (Ed.) (1987.) ESL through content-area instruction. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall Regents. Crandall, J. & Kaufman, D. (Eds.) (2002). Content-based instruction in higher education settings. Alexandria, VA: TESOL. Creese, A. (2006) Supporting talk? Partnerships teachers in classroom interaction. The International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism, 9, 434-453. Creese, A. (2005). Teacher collaboration and talk in multilingual classrooms . Cliveden: Multilingual Matters. Creese, A. (2002). The discursive construction of power in teacher partnerships: Language and subject specialists in mainstream schools. TESOL Quarterly, 36, 597-616. Davidson, (2006) Collaboration between ESL and content teachers: How do we know when we are getting it right? International Journal of Bilingual Education, 9, 454-475. Echevarria, J., Vogt, M. & Short, D. J. (2004). Making content comprehensible for English learners: The SIOP Model. Boston, MA: Pearson Education. Glaser, B., & Strauss, A. (1967). The discovery of grounded theory. Chicago: Adline. Hargreaves, A. (1994). Changing teachers, changing times: Teachers' work and culture in the postmodern age. New York: Teachers College Press. Hurst, D. & Davidson, C. (2005). Collaborating on the curriculum: Focus on secondary ESOL. In J. Crandall & D. Kaufman (Eds.) Content-based instruction in primary and secondary school settings. Alexandria, VA: TESOL. Roger, T. & Johnson, D.W. (1994). An overview of cooperative learning. In Thousand, J., Villa, A. & Nevin, A. (Eds.). Creativity and cooperative learning. Baltimore: Brookes Press. Johnson, K.E. (1999). Understanding language teaching: Reasoning in action . New York: Heinle & Heinle. Johnson, D. W. & Johnson, R. (1989). Cooperation and competition: Theory and research. Ednina MN: Interaction Book Company. Nunan, D. (Ed.). (1992). Collaborative language learning and teaching. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Snow, M.A. & Brinton, D. M. (1997). The content-based classroom: Perspectives on integrating language and content. New York: Longman. Teemant, A., Bernhardt, E. & Rodriguez-Munoz, M. (1996). Collaborating with content-area teachers: What we need to share. TESOL Journal, 5 (4), 16-20. Wild, M., Mayeaux, A., & Edmonds, K. (2008). TeamWork: Setting the stage for collaborative teaching, grades 5-9. Portland, ME: Stenhouse.


In groups of three or four, teachers interview each other, using the following as a guideline. Teachers should ask each other questions and listen (no note taking yet): What are your memories of yourself as a student? As a second language learner? What are some of your memories of your former teachers? What are your beliefs and assumptions about how second languages should be taught? How do your prior experiences (in school or out of school) shape who you are as a teacher? In what ways do you think your ethnicity, gender, socio-economic background, religion, age, dialect, accent, etc. influence any aspects of your teaching?

Cooperative Learning as Method and Model in Second Language Teaching


What are some of the dimensions of yourself that you recognize and wish to cultivate in your teaching? What are some of the dimensions of yourself that you recognize and which to alter in your teaching? What is your greatest personal challenge in your teaching? Describe a critical teaching or learning incident that you feel encapsulates you as a teacher or learner. When you are talking informally about your work (with colleagues or others) what are some of the things that come up in the conversations? Note: This list of prompts for developing an autobiography is adapted from an activity called Collaborative Autobiographies in Johnson, K.E. (1999). Understanding language teaching: Reasoning in action. New York: Heinle & Heinle.