English UK's ELT conference: rebuilding the industry better
Improving CPD and equality, diversity and inclusion were at the heart of our first hybrid ELT conference.
Managers and teachers enjoyed dedicated sessions designed to address the industry's staffing issues and support moves to build back better. The hybrid management day and the free online teacher afternoons included sessions on incorporating discussions on inclusion, diversity and the environment into the classroom, as well as plenty of ideas on providing better CPD and support for teachers.
Louise Goux-Wirth opened the conference with her plenary on creating a safe space where everyone can work, concluding: "It's important to allow people to tell you how they want to show up at work and be supported and it's your role to make sure the workplace is safe enough and supportive enough to allow staff to thrive. The more staff thrive, the better your provision [will] be, not just the output of your organisation but the culture and retention and how people feel from being part of it."
In the teaching programme, Zarina Subhan suggested how to increase equality in the classroom, considering the careful use of images and getting students to teach the pronunciation of their names and represent their own cultures.
Fiona Dunlop of Wimbledon School of English told the management day: "We don't want to wait for another pandemic to reap the benefits of this… we should take time to reflect, stop, and catch our collective breath. We should have short planning horizons, factor in thinking time and provide a structure for reflecting and acting on our findings both individually and as an organisation. We should introduce tools to raise awareness of achievements, impact and morale. Reflection is only useful if we act on the findings and build upon it."
On a similar theme, Andy Gaskins of St Giles International said: "There is a shortage of teachers so making the most of what we have is really important. Those we have remain committed, stimulated and developing. But how do we enable them? If we know what we expect of them we can be there to provide that genuine support. It's not about trying to fit people into some kind of template but recognising every teacher we have has strengths and weaknesses. It's not top down but collaborative mutual support with which hopefully comes both professional and personal growth. Developing teachers helps us develop as managers and brings out the best in us, hopefully."
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The final session dedicated to teachers came from Silvana Richardson of Bell who outlined her Six D cycle for effective, cost-effective professional development which she said would be particularly useful at a time when budget cuts were affecting CPD. "The six Ds are discover, decide, design, do, debrief and disseminate. You don't need the DOS to organise, you can do with this with colleagues face to face or online," she said. She explained the steps began with discovery - looking into what aspect of practice to investigate – before deciding and preparing what to do, designing the study, doing it, debriefing and finally disseminating to colleagues if the outcome was useful. "It is something any teacher or group of teachers together can do. It gives you structure and elements of effective collaboration. If you [are] a manager and listening, you could encourage conditions for teachers to collaborate in this way," she concluded.
The ELT conference management day was held in London and online on 22 April, with dedicated teacher sessions offered free of charge online on 27 and 28 April.
Our next conference is our Members' Conference and AGM on Friday 20 May