Looking back

Having Zhenya Polosatova on Talking Shop earlier this month was an absolute pleasure. We had some issues with recording during the session, so Zhenya was kind enough to record a second version completely unprompted. She goes in-depth about how to apply a reflective framework to your life both inside and outside of the classroom. It was a great session, so if you missed it, the follow-up version is a worthwhile 13-minute watch.

The IATEFL conference happened this month. While we didn’t go (for reasons we’ll get into) yet it has been interesting to an eye on this from afar. Here are a few things that pinged the ELT Workshop radar: 

First up, we’ve been enjoying some of the roundups of sessions. Rachel Tsateri’s summaries offered some food for thought. Tim was particularly interested in the sessions about observation. Observation is, paradoxically, an area which is extremely useful for professional development and also something teachers are scared of. Tim learned a new word (judgementoring) and also that studies suggest that teachers find frequent observation less stressful than infrequent observation.

Sandy Millin also provides a thorough roundup of her conference experience (Isn’t it interesting how people’s experiences of a conference can differ so much? – Tim). There’s too much to summarise here, but it’s great to see more attention paid to learning difficulties in ELT. Do grab a cup of tea and have a good read through. 

Steve Brown is always a thought-provoking blogger and speaker. His IATEFL talk looks at ELT materials and their implicit messages. It’s one of many talks in the past few years that go beyond saying it’s bad that coursebooks don’t feature certain topics and look at what might happen instead. He also talks about the idea that empowering students simply helps them ‘exploit the system for [their] own benefit’ and doesn’t help change the system itself. He’s posted his slides with embedded audio over at his blog. It’s worth it for this image alone:

There have been some questions before and during the conference about the cost of it. From our point of view, there aren’t many reasons for an online conference to cost £250. In organising a conference, the main costs are hiring a venue, getting speakers to that venue and finding somewhere for those speakers to stay. None of these costs exist online, so there is no real reason for an online conference to cost this much. With so many cheap or free options, there isn’t really a reason to pay so much and we won’t be (at least until the ELTW corporate Amex cards finally show up).

To sum up, while we’re boycotting online conferences that cost over £30, we’re glad that we got to read these summaries. It’s also encouraging to see that, in spite of criticism of IATEFL’s conference promoting overly didactic methods of teaching, there are some good ideas floating around there if you look for them.


Looking forward

We are accepting suggestions for our book on Workshopping until Sunday. Just to remind you, this is a book we will be releasing to support the Hands Up Project. It’s going to be a collection of workshopping categories that can be used as a warm up activity for teachers. To find out more and submit an idea, click here.

We won’t be holding a workshop this month, but we will have a ‘What’s going on with you session. Keep an eye out for updates 👀.

This symposium on EdTech is coming up in the next month. It looks like there is a good range of topics and the price is within the ELTW approved range, so it could be worth checking out 

Finally, we’d encourage you to go and see what’s happening with recent ‘What’s going on with you these days?’ guest Teresa Bestwick’s project The Teacher Development Hub. Their sessions are certainly worth checking out. You can find their calendar here. 

Content consumer corner 

This month, Tim has been enjoying Loki which finally answers the question ‘What if one of the Marvel TV shows was actually good?’ It’s a nice short season that’s just over half-way through at the time of writing. It’s pretty fun and has just the right amount of Owen Wilson with a moustache.

Tim has also been getting quite into bossa nova this month. Apparently the real stuff is very different to all those awful oversung covers of ‘The Girl from Ipanema’. He strongly recommends Stone Flower as an album for lazy sunny Sunday afternoons. Mike suggests blaming any problems in this newsletter on the bossa nova.