Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Collegiality - the CLIL challenge

Collegiality between subject and English language teachers is the key element of any successful CLIL pathway. I'm sure we all agree on this point.
In a popular post of last summer, we dealt with the "subject teacher/language teacher" question. Now, while collecting papers for a presentation about team teaching, I ran across Dr Diana Hicks' guidelines for collaboration in the CLIL classroom. She suggests we should take into consideration some key elements for a successful cooperation with our colleagues:
  • Relationship: we are individuals, and let's face it, we don't get along with all of our colleagues. Before planning any collaboration, we should consider whether we are compatible or not. In my ten years' experience in the same school, I've met colleagues who've quickly become friends - and when you make friends, you immediately want to do something together: lessons, projects, experiences, school trips... Guess what? Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. It's just like a love-story not meant to be: sorry, no sparkles. And then, of course, there are those people you don't want to work with because you don't trust them. So, think before you plan.
  • Rules of behaviour: ok, you believe in this relationship and you want to give it a try. Now you have to think about how to work together without ending up hating each other (with the obvious consequences on your students' learning process). You can work formally or informally together. Obviously, I would suggest working formally. And obviously, especially in eTwinning CLIL projects, we end up working informally 90% of the time. We all do this, and we all know it's wrong. Please, do yourself a favour, and at the beginning of the school year sit down with your colleagues, write down your working plan, and have it signed by your Principle/Headteacher/whoever it is that can recognize your efforts. Remember: informal won't last. Plus, you and your colleagues will feel more committed when working formally together.
  • Responsibilities: Dr Hicks was very clear on this: teachers have to mark their specialist territory (personal note: invading that of the others is the best way to spoil your CLIL project and make them hate you). As for individual responsibilities of the Language and Subject teacher, have a look at the chart and let me know what you think.
  • Organization: that's the when/what/how moment. We should discuss timetable (how many lessons? when? with the teachers being together in the classroom or not? how will they be paid? etc), resources and preparation time, and, above all, assessment. To be honest, in Dr Hicks' brilliant course, the assessment part was the weakest. It was more like a question than a solution: what would you do? I wish I knew. Anyway, in my experience I've often found it better to give two different marks to the students' products (Language/Content). But it's my personal - maybe wrong - opinion. No evidence, no expert's support here.
What do you think? What's your experience in CLIL courses?
Looking forward to getting to know more!


PS and as usual, don't forget you can find all of our materials and worksheets dealing with CLIL in The Next Generation TwinSpace, "useful materials" section.


  1. Hi Laura,
    I agree with you, assessment is an important part of CLIL activities and deserves more reflection. In my school we have four indicators to evaluate written CLIL activities (1 for FL use, 1 for MT use, 1 for attention, 1 for teamworking). I think it works, even if the last two tend to be very subjective marks.
    Any other suggestion?

  2. Hi Enrico,
    I'm interested in your assessment strategies. Do you have any template you can share? It may be useful for other teachers as well.
    Let me know, you can contact me via email when you have time,
    thank you