Student services staff, welfare officers and their managers enjoyed sessions on wellbeing, student inclusion and anti-bullying at the Student Experience Conference on Friday 11 October.
Expert speakers encouraged delegates to think about the details at their language centres, discussed how to achieve non-judgemental communication with students and consider the challenges of running great leisure programmes.
Kelly Harding, head of student services at Frances King School of English, says she has "already implemented some things I picked up from these sessions" and found it "brilliant that English UK has given [student services] a platform where we can meet each other and develop our skills."
The day began with a talk from positive psychology expert Ruth Hughes on creating a welcoming environment for students.
Ruth suggested focusing on the details of a language centre to show your students that you accept them. For example, research the correct pronunciation of a student’s name. Or if your language centre has flags of the world displayed, think about including less commonly represented countries to make all students feel included.
Kelly said: “All of Ruth’s stuff was really useful. The student experience outside of the classroom is so important when they have four contact hours in a classroom and up to 20 outside of it.”
Following Ruth’s talk, practical advice was offered. Anti-bullying insights were provided by Giovanni Licata from IATEFL’s Inclusive Practices and Special Educational Needs Special Interest Group. He suggested that it is important to focus on identities rather than tokenism to combat bullying.
Barbara Lewin of Umbrella Safeguarding shared how she used Yahoo! to create an online safeguarding forum to disperse safeguarding information for schools and give access to local training outside of London.
Miriam Anderson from NILE found the expert talks "very interactive, educational and entertaining at times!" And Freya Garbett, Oxford International, found the "informative and professional event" left her "feeling optimistic about my career and the state of the industry."
The challenges of achieving non-violent communication with students, running great leisure programmes were discussed with speakers from Purley Language College and ArcQ.
Heather Rhodes of Harrow School Short Courses held a seminar on managing behaviour where she described how they harnessed the power of technology to create apps for staff and student to monitor and report behaviour.
The day ended with a final workshop by Anne Margaret Smith of ELT Well to help our delegates consolidate the knowledge they had learned throughout the day. Ophelia Bonelli of Tti School of English reported in a tweet by the school that she had a ‘notebook full of ideas and notes’.
The Student Experience Conference will return next year to explore more opportunities to strengthen your offer for students and connect with peers.
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