The following is the abstract of a presentation by Cheryl Woelk at TESOL 2014 in Portland, Oregon, USA as a part of the Christian English Language Educators Association panel session.
The presentation describes a group of Christian language educators engaged in curriculum development in Seoul, South Korea. As part of this group, I identified exhaustion and burnout in many of the members who had spent years teaching in high-stress contexts. Issues of teacher resilience appear frequently in practice and teacher stress and burnout has received much attention in research since the 1970s. Educators must make efforts to sustain themselves with finding new meaning for their work. Integrating peacebuilding theory and practice in education can provide opportunities for renewed purpose in teaching.
As part of an effort for renewal, the group in Seoul held regular meetings through which we engaged in reflective practice and research on various aspects of peacebuilding theory and practice. Our discussions and sharing connected our vocations, learning, and faith and built deep friendships in a holistic way that nurtured our creativity and provided new meaning and purpose in our teaching. The integration of peacebuilding in our teaching was rooted in theory that was developed and researched together, and our theories emerged from our practice of integrating peacebuilding and language education. Over a series of meetings, not only was the curriculum created, but the members of the group felt renewed and energized in their language teaching and peace education practice.
Following the experience, a study guide was created to encourage other educators to collaborate in integrating peacebuilding and language education as a means for renewal and building resilience. The group model is based on a constructivist learning approach, an ethic of care, appreciative inquiry, and principles of reflective practice. The presentation describes aspects of this guide in more detail, as well as includes research from current efforts and opportunities to work as a team to integrate peacebuilding and language education through the Language for Peace forum.
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