#IATEFL13 - From my beginning… (Part 1)

Two names that are forever associated with my first steps towards becoming a language teacher, made 13 years ago, are Duncan Foord and Jim Scrivener: Duncan because I did my Trinity Cert. in TESOL under his guidance at Oxford House Barcelona; and Jim Scrivener because his Learning Teaching was one of the main titles we referred to during the course. Indeed, I remember my course mates dubbing Jim Scrivener ‘The Man’ when it came to the ins and outs of our assessed teaching practice.

And so, I thought where better to start my reflections on IATEFL 2013 Online than with those two names? First, an interview with Duncan Foord about the concept of Open Space and his work with the TDSIG (I will reflect on Jim Scrivener’s session on ‘Demand High’ in my next post):

If you can’t see the video, you can watch it here
Open Space is a concept that has interested me for some time but I've always been a little uncertain about how to implement it. Hearing Duncan discuss how to set it up, starting with the brainstorming of questions and then people naturally dividing themselves into groups to discuss the issues that interest them, was very useful and it is something I am going to push for at my place of work when we enter our 'seminar period' at the end of the teaching year. I think this would be a great way to approach the issue of classroom management. Over recent times, we have had a few workshops and talks (or 'workshops' given as talks) on this matter but there has always been the feeling that the speaker doesn't really know our context and the issues we face. Having an open space session in which everyone discusses strategies that have worked and that haven't worked, all situated within our own context, would be much more productive.

The discussion about the difference between teacher training and teacher development was also enlightening. I feel that too much of what goes on in many schools around Turkey is based on the training model. While that is useful, it needs to complemented by some development - that is the teacher pursuing his or her own agenda and identifying areas of their teaching they would like to work on. Perhaps open space would be a good lead in...

I also liked the analogy comparing teaching from a coursebook to playing cover songs in a band. As Duncan says, the important thing is not so much what you do and what materials you do or don't use, but rather how well you do it.

You can follow the IATEFL conference online at: http://iatefl.britishcouncil.org/2013/