IATEFL Day 2

When the day starts with a plenary such as Silvana’s on day 2 of IATEFL you know two or three things.  1. it’s going to be a very good day, 2. things are going to change for the better and 3. Silvana’s profile is going to skyrocket.

I hardly know were to start.  I didn’t even tweet during this – I couldn’t.  That is rare; nothing usually prevents me from over-multi-tasking.  Within seconds of Silvana’s plenary starting my colleague and friend, Gavin Reddin, leaned in and said ‘this is brilliant already‘.  This is a selection of what others were saying:

Silvana began by asking to look at the way we refer to NEST and NNESTS.  So that’s native English speaker teachers and non-native English speaker teachers. Now, when I describe myself I only very rarely say, ‘non-blonde, non-blue eyed.’ Actually, I never say that.  Why on earth would you?

When I see the dedication my current MA students put into their course…  The time.  The money.  It seems pretty damn insulting that one of my students may be passed over in favour of someone with a 4 week TEFL certification course and an English speaking place of birth. Which, I’m very sorry to say, is happening already.

Silvana took us on an emotional journey and raised questions not only about the “non-native factor” but also about teacher training and development in general. All deserving of their own posts, to follow soon.

Here it is:

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After the tearful standing ovation (and I know I wasn’t the only one moved to tears) the rest of the day was, in fact, a good one. Between talks it was all about networking and dialogue, initiated by the plenary and the talks. Themes that really got us all going included professionalisation, teacher development and delivering flexiblity to our students so we can adapt to and teach them. It was also very cool walking around with Silvana – it felt a bit like accompanying Madonna backstage!

David Bowker and Vander Viana, from Stirling University, gave a thorough insight into why MA TESOL students choose the country, course and university that they do.  I’d like each year to offer an even better course to my students and put a lot of research and effort into ensuring I offer them the best possible MA I can.  For me it’s all about what my students can offer schools when they graduate, and how I can support their own development journey.

Anne Burn’s talk on Action Research provided a practical model and insight into meaningful teacher development. I say meaningful because the old formula of:

CELTA + occasional “expert” events = CPD

doth not a developed teacher make.

Ok, I said I wouldn’t go into this here (perhaps the formula above will be the title of my blog on the subject).  Anne’s talk gave concrete examples of putting Action Research in place and addressed what the students thought of the resulting practice. Action Research asks teachers to be active (it’s sort of in the title) participants in their development, bases development in classroom practice and by its very nature asks  us to reflect. So, why isn’t it more widely used in TD?

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Another highlight of the day! Scott Thornbury chatting to Gavin & I!

There were many more wonderful stories made and collected that day, the talks were excellent and I could hardly believe it was only half way through. Dialogues were initiated, much needed questions were asked and it’s clear that this will all drive quality in our profession.  Reach for the stars!

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