Having got used to a luxurious regime of fortnightly input sessions and twice-yearly teaching conferences in Huelva, I have been feeling a bit starved of CPD in Devon. Obviously one can do one’s own reading, but part of the gain from coming together with other teachers is the connections one makes and the way we can positively affect each other’s teaching, through attitude or experience, or whatever it is. Not to mention the importance of socialising with other people who share your passion for teaching.
Anyway, I am lucky enough to be supported by my school in seeking out my own CPD and I went off to the NATECLA conference in Nottingham last weekend. NATECLA stands for National Association for Teaching English and Community Languages to Adults, and focuses on ESOL. My school calls what I do TESOL, but it’s not the same as what’s commonly known as ESOL, which generally refers to English classes in FE colleges for immigrants, often with varying levels of literacy. However, having contacted one of the organisers I was assured that it was relevant for me as the organisation is broadening their remit to include teaching teenagers and is trying to attract more members from EFL and ELT institutions (and had invited a couple of big names from ELT), so that definitely includes me! Having gone along, I was glad to be able to say that I had taught in ESOL at Exeter College, albeit very briefly, as I did feel a bit of an impostor teaching privileged teenagers.
Whilst at the conference, I learned about the Ruth Hayman Trust, which I’d like to plug here a bit as I think what they do is really worthwhile, especially given recent political events. The trust provides “educational grants to adults who have come to settle in the UK and whose first language is not English.” Considering how vital language is to feeling part of a community and being able to function within one, what they do must really help a lot of people out, and it’s all run by volunteers. Check it out.
Have you ever taken part in a Teachmeet? If not, let me tell you one teeny tip: it is not a Teachmingle! I hadn’t realised I had to stand up in front of EVERYONE until the day before the conference and hadn’t really prepared much. It turns out that that was OK, as they weren’t expecting reams of preparation and you only had 3 minutes to present. The theme was no-prep, low-resources activities. I presented my version of Overheard or Eavesdropping, (I called it Confabluations) which overran and I broke the mic, but it got some nice feedback.
The conference programme included 4 sessions and 2 keynote talks. One of the keynote talks came from ELT storytelling gent, Jamie Keddie, and the other from an actual MP – Chi Onwurah (Labour, Newcastle), who is a keen supporter of adult education.
As is my wont, I prefer not to share in a blog post all the tips I got from the talks I went to, as I sort of feel that’s stealing their act, or to review them, but to ask questions raised by what I heard and see if I can add to the dialogue on the subject. This I shall do in the next post. Meanwhile, here is a storify of the tweets sent about the conference compiled by Diana Tremayne, some of which are mine (first time for me tweeting at a conference, and at least one person did think I was being rude and mucking about on the internet instead of listening).
Thanks for reading!