I will try and write brief summaries of some of the presentations and plenaries I´ve watched so far.
Jeremy Harmer and Carol Higho gave a talk yesterday on What teachers do next. In a way, the talk followed on nicely from Tessa Woodward´s plenary about the lifecycles of a teacher ( I will write a whole post about this). The ideas was to explore the issue of how teachers can ensure their professional development (yes, there was an element of a plug for Pearson Longman´s Interactive site), but Jeremy Harmer´s opening of the talk set the context for an enthusiastic and passionate wake-up call for teachers.
He started off with the question: How do you keep it going? How do you keep the enthusiasm for what you do in the classroom day in and day out?
It is indeed a very relevant question – we all know that we begin our teaching careers with a great deal of enthusiasm and as the years wear on, what was new becomes routine and routine can lead to a sense of dejá-vu and lack of motivation. Yet, as Jeremy pointed out, this can indeed be a comfortable option – after all, no change can mean you have the illusion of being in control of things. You stay well in your comfort zone. But as he pointed out, when we get stuck in this part of our cycle as teachers, we miss out on the tremendous opportunity to get that feeling of MORE!
The MORE feeling (my capitals) adds that extra dimension of adventure and risk. And he went on to illustrate how in his own personal life the experience of going gliding (for someone with a fear of hights) allowed him to experience first-hand this feeling: I want MORE! It´s an adrenalin buzz, a chance to see things from a different perspective and this gives you motivation and a feeling you want this to happen again. And this is how Jeremy suggested we should face teaching in order to move away from the deadliness of falling into a routine.
We need to change our routines, do things completely differently for once and see what happens. Let the unexpected happen. Give ourselves the chance to really listen to colleagues in the staff room and actually engage in a discussion – and not just mechanically ask about the lesson and not hear the answer. Ask ourselves and colleagues `Why?`. Why did things go as they went? Jeremy added, when we ask questions, we move the conversation along and we tread new paths and find out more. And he went a step further: why not build into our timetables a moment for genuine conversation and exchange about our practice?
The ideas Harmer presented are good for all of us. But what struck me the most was the passion of the delivery and the enthusiasm. You could not help leaving the talk feeling: wow, being an ELT teacher is one of the most exciting things in the world to do!
Yes, I´m glad I chose this career – and I´m certainly one of these people who wants to constantly feel this MORE feeling!