IATEFL Day 1 – Vision

From getting the train from the Boro early this morning, to retiring to my room at 7 to stay (with my feet up!), day 1 at IATEFL 2014 has been filled with inspiration. That was almost the buzz word I chose to summarise today, but in the end I plumped for ‘vision‘ as this tied together the themes of my sessions…

I stayed with the LAMSIG (Leadership and Management Special Interest Group). Since discovering this SIG 2 years ago I’ve found them supportive – attracting a high quality of speakers who provide very practical presentations which bring you out of your (often quite isolating) DOS world and instil an overall sense of vision.

Janet Turfnell kicked off with a perspective on recruiting the best teachers for your team and Geoff Hardy-Gould talked about cultivating community. Both talks reminded me of communicating ethos, or vision, to the teaching team – both old and new members, sharing where it is we want the school to go and what it is we want to offer our students. Supporting old and new teachers to interpret that vision into their own practice.

Josh Round gave a presentation which, IMHO, should be given to all new DOSs and ADOSs during their (usually non-existent!) induction and training. Talking about being the DOS you want to be he walked through some typical elements of the job and some of the ways daily life in a language school can get in the way of doing the job well. Often it’s little things (see my blog from earlier today) which need doing but which take time away from the long term planning which is important to keep the all important vision of the school coherent and a driving force.

I missed, but heard good things about, Liam Brown’s talk. It posed the question of whether you’re doing all you can to develop your own as well as your team’s skills. This paved the way for Silviana Richardson’s incredible talk on evidence-based observations. Everything you do to share the school’s vision must, of course, filter into the classroom. Supporting teachers to be autonomous while being guided by vision rests on a meaningful and effective observation/feedback process. And, thanks to Silviana, I think we’ll manage that – what a GREAT take-away from day 1.

Jane Cohen took us on a journey through her own professional development – by recording each step she was able to share her own vision for her career and how it helped get her where she is today. And finishing up was Oliver Beaumont who forefronted the idea of just sticking to your vision, caring for it and sharing for it. Putting your vision first can and should underpin your interactions with teachers, creating a foundation for a heart centred and autonomous approach to leadership.

The day has reminded me of my vision and given me robust take-away ideas on how to put it into practice. Thank you to all of today’s speakers. Looking forward to Day 2…

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