English UK's ELT Conference: supporting managers to support teachers
Practical ideas for creating the best possible working environment and helping staff develop was the main theme of English UK's ELT conference managers' day, held in London and online last week.
From Louise Goux-Wirth's opening plenary on creating a safe space where everyone can work, to Educating Yorkshire's Matthew Burton reminding the delegates that "every single teacher is a teacher of everyone all the time", a series of relaxed sessions gave industry managers plenty of ideas to take home.
Laureline Galiny from Stafford House Cambridge found it a useful day: "My favourite session was the bite-sized CPD- three to five minutes – that's such a good idea."
Nick Collette from the Kensington Academy of English enjoyed the teacher development sessions which he thought were also useful for teacher retention. "These are so practical - we can go back now to our teams with ideas."
Alison Castle Kane, from conference sponsor Trinity, said: "It's fabulous to see people in person. While online meetings are efficient it's not the same quality as you get face-to-face."
Six takeaways from the day
Equality specialist Louise Goux-Wirth: "It's important to allow people to tell you how they want to show up at work and be supported. 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 would be, not just the output of your organisation but the culture and retention and how people feel from being part of it."
Fiona Dunlop, principal of Wimbledon School of English, reminded the conference how everyone in ELT had been forced to transform how they worked overnight when Covid hit, becoming nimble, leading by example and being aware of our own weaknesses. "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.
Jonathan Dykes, Green Standard Schools: "The best way to reduce carbon footprint? Switch to a green electricity supplier."
Celine Aloe, UKLC: "If we want to deliver really great quality service this season in the face of so many obstacles we have to be the best leaders we can be - open, honest and vulnerable with the people who stuck with us. If we involve them and create better cultures we will deliver high quality."
Andy Gaskin, St Giles International: "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. Annual appraisals are not enough. We need to encourage development. It's not about trying to fit people into some kind of template but recognising every teacher 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."
Matthew Burton, headteacher of Educating Yorkshire's Thornhill Community Academy: "Know what staff are good at and with. Understand staff's areas of weakness. Coaching/mentoring/CPD needs to be regularly audited and changed. Looking after your own brain nurtures theirs. Every teacher can be that teacher. For somebody, you are that person and there is somebody looking forward to working with you, that your intervention genuinely changed their lives…everybody is that teacher for somebody."
Upcoming English UK events
Members' Conference 2022
Friday 20 May
Tuesday 20 - Wednesday 21 September
Friday 30 September
September - November 2022
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