ELT 2021 Influencers: Mike Kenteris

Dr Mike Kenteris is a learner, an educator, and a language school owner. Passionate about integrating learning technologies and gamification through active learning strategies to empower student engagement and build strong learning communities. His academic achievements include an M.Eng, M.Sc, and has a PhD in Mobile learning systems and context-aware computing. He is also a TESOL EVO Moderator for the Flipped learning in Language Teaching session.

It has been over a year now since the beginning of the pandemic and we still do not know what is going to be the new norm for the English language teaching sector come September. Will we be in our physical classrooms? Will all our students be present in our classrooms? What will our students be like when they return? I suggest that we have to rethink things over.

Indeed, to be able to keep our students interested and fused in our digital classes most of us have made tremendous efforts. Apart from adopting new ways of teaching online, the utilization of digital tools and applications have surged amid the covid crisis and this has helped keep our students connected and engaged. Admittedly, this upward surge of progression in educational technology has also triggered a thirst in the business world. This means that the more technologies and tools incorporating the evolution of artificial intelligence (AI) continue to become available, the more your job as a teacher becomes easier. The question that arises in everybody’s head is ‘will our students need us if the use of AI in digital tools becomes that easy’? Notwithstanding, this is yet to be proven and the future is not all that doom and gloom some make it out to be. Still, if you are going to keep your old ways being at the front of the stage in your classroom and not transform yourself into a teacher of the 21st century, well, I am not sure what the future holds.

Henceforth, the answer lies in what you believe your job as a teacher is and this has nothing to do with the pandemic. Do you still believe that our students are empty vessels that need filling? But, is it not the norm for students to hook up to Youtube and find answers to anything and everything? While students still do depend on us to coach them and plan their learning, it is our job as teachers to evolve and adapt to their times. Like most like-minded teachers out there, I believe that active learning environments are the way forward. Only by creating flexible learning spaces both in our physical classrooms and in our digital space, will we be able to differentiate our teaching and reach all our students.

Looking forward, the need for choice is going to be ever so imminent. Whether it be students who are online because of not being able to attend physical classes yet, or the need to cater for students who could not attend class temporarily staying home a week for precautionary measures. Planning for a school-wide master plan to integrate a digital community platform and moving towards a school-wide pedagogical upgrade using more of the Flipped learning approach is integral; as is the need for preparation and for teacher training, and this has to start early if you are to prepare your school for the next school year.

Concluding, I share with you that one of the basic components of the Flipped learning approach is to keep teacher talk time to a minimum, assigning anything to do with the ‘Knowledge’ and ‘Comprehension’ stages of Bloom’s taxonomy before class and taking advantages of class time to dig deeper into learning. Food for thought… why not leave the easy stuff to google and concentrate more on building more meaningful relationships with your students that will definitely lead to a deeper learning experience? •