IATEFL Conference 2017 – A review #2

This is part two of a review of some of the sessions that I attended at IATEFL 2017 at the SEC and Clyde Auditorium in Glasgow. as well as some online content recorded and hosted by IATEFL Online and the British Council. This post is part of my of my commitment as a registered blogger for the event.  All of this content was watched afterwards as I was too busy taking part in Glasgow, although I was present at some of the sessions.  All the embedded videos should be playable from within this page or you can click on the titles which are links to both the recording and any associated documents (PDFs).

Glasgow 2017 (145)


Marina Kladova

Marina Kladova, who is based in Moscow, presented on the topic of ‘how to become a teacherpreneur?‘  I had not really heard this portmanteau until earlier this year when Patrice Palmer (@eltwisdom) reacted on Twitter to my post in February about going self-employed and subsequently interviewed me.  Kladova actually shared a quote from Palmer early on:

“A teacherpreneur is a creative classroom teacher who is both an educator and an entrepreneur; works a flexible schedule and supplements his/her income by creating and developing teaching and learning products “

It is also “the pursuit of opportunity beyond resources controlled” (Eisenmann, T. 2013). Kladova’s own definition is that it is a mindset towards a teacher’s career based on leadership and relentless search for opportunities to make a difference, share the knowledge and expertise and create something innovative and unique which can be both for profit and non-profit.

She shared her experience of how she transitioned from simply being a teacher to teacherpreneur. She spoke about frustration being employed and her ambition to diversify but felt that owning her own language school was unrealistic.  Taught via Skype, via a hobby of windsurfing.  Offer English as part of a windsurfing course. Financially rewarding.  Able to travel more.

She asked the audience what they understood by the term teacherpreneur (or edupreneur).  She quickly delivered some areas of diversifying before asking the audience how to approach this via what they are good at: products (such as online courses, materials writing), education (e.g. webinars, Edutainment trips), consulting  (e.g. external assessment of teachers, proofreading), commission  (e.g. travel agency – selling tours) and several other ideas.

She had clearly put a lot of thought and work into this and had a lot to offer from personal experience.  She finished by talking about action plans and how to find opportunities, such as observing trends.

Link here as embed code not working.

Clare Walsh and Lindsay Warwick Session - Confidence mixed IELTS classes

Clare Walsh and Lindsay Warwick presented a Pearson session on Managing student confidence and expectations in mixed level IELTS classes.   They raised some issues in teaching mixed classes preparing for IELTS and offered some techniques. Clare suggested they were looking at the ‘Boss battle’ band 6, which I know to be an important goal for many, although 6.5 is often the minimum for UK university entrance.  They were not talking about generally building self-esteem, but more improving self-confidence in the students’ abilities to do the tasks along the lines of Vygotsky’s ‘Zone of Proximal Development’. Managing the level of challenge aids engagement.  Self-confidence can be manipulated by situation, leading to positive effect on learning outcomes.

Lindsay spoke eloquently about IELTS speaking – discussion questions.  The objective could be defined something like this:

By the end of the lesson, students will be (better) able to justify an opinion coherently using complex sentences.

In a mixed ability class this is ideal but not realistic. This appeals to that middle ground – but stronger students might not feel challenged enough while weaker students might lose confidence and withdraw.  One technique offered is to aim for differentiated objectives for students’ abilities.  Be clear and upfront about these objectives to let students decide what is achievable and take responsibility for their own learning. She gave some examples of activities, such as one where some linking words were posted on the wall for the weaker students.  For stronger ones, further prompts on the wall ask them to come up with an alternative answer.     There was a nice observation on how (over-) confident students initially reject the support offered but often require it eventually.  Close monitoring is important, too, to avoid students being lazy.  She demonstrated the wall prompts during an audience activity on a differentiating a writing task, before providing some suggestions, such as modelling and writing frames.

Clare looked at receptive skills – listening with multiple choices and reading – true, false and not given questions.  This tricky task was circumvented by taking away more difficult questions (not givens) and simplifying the task for weaker students.  Also simplifying questions for the Matching headings task, and reducing the number of options as having ten possible headings is often too confusing for students.  Again, there was an element of encouraging students to take responsibility for their own learning. They neatly summarised their session at the end.Clare Walsh - Differentiated learning

This interesting session gave me some food for thought and reminded me of the importance of differentiation and both challenging stronger students, helping weaker students and not assuming they are as strong or as weak as they perceive.

Rachael Harris Workshop (2)

On Wednesday, Rachel Harris, newsletter editor of the new IP&SEN SIG, spoke about Teaching well-being to teens.  I already knew her on social media as Rachael ‘Fabenglishteacher’ and I met her for the first time before this session. This workshop focused on well-being in one’s self, within a group and also in relation to learning.  Teachers are in a prime position to help with well-being issues.   She feels there is a place for meditation but not everyone agrees. So her activities are designed to help students feel better, without questioning how, why or whether they are enjoying the learning.   Many educators (esp institutional managers) are quite dismissive, I believe, of so-called ‘touchy-feely’ stuff, but there is a place for it.  Learning can be more difficult for students.  As someone who has suffered from poor mental health as a teacher I could relate to this and got something out of it, even though I don’t currently teach teens. But it reinforced my idea for a talk aimed at well-being of teachers.  She talked about BHAGS and babysteps, a hashtag I use myself when talking about the early stages of getting involved in a project or a committee.  During this session I found myself tweeting in sync with Joanna Budden, who also I met for the first time and who gave a presentation during the LTSIG day, which I also attended.  The recording of Rachael’s workshop is below:

Glasgow iPad (110)

Jamie Keddie ‘rocked’ the Clyde auditorium on Wednesday. I say ‘rocked’ because he was on the biggest stage at conference,  ‘Don’t Stop Believin” played before he came on and his front row appeared to be full of female fans ready to throw an article of clothing!  (I’m joking!)  He joked his way through a long lead-in telling a gag about Pina Coladas and the Glaswegian accent, then a story about a hungry old man and a bacon sandwich. He later referred to some feedback where he was warned not to turn his lesson into a ‘Jamie show’.  ‘Misunderstandings’, to continue with the analogy, is probably one of his biggest hits!  He elicits very well, of course, as his new book ‘Videotelling’ encourages teachers to do.  This session on Developing Teacher Talk moved into the area of misunderstandings between teacher and student. It was a practical presentation, in which he argued that teacher talk should be developed not discouraged.  TTT – teacher talk(ing) time – which he says sounds like a daytime TV programme can be overdone but he tried to differentiate between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ TT.  He believes ‘awareness’ is crucial to avoid bad TT and this takes years to develop.  ‘Keddie’s Half Hour’ included jokes, true, but it made some good points.  He ended with three suggestions including dropping the word ‘time’, embrace storytelling and added a postscript to the warning over TT. There was an online follow-up session one week later, in which he directly addressed the issue of being a ‘performing’ learning-centred teacher.

Jamie Keddie tweet





Not every session was officially recorded for IATEFL online and one of those was the annual, traditional Pecha Kucha. Fortunately, I was there in Lomond to watch it live, while some participants captured sections of it. This event occurred on Thursday evening and was the quick fire 6 min 40 sec 20 slides talk.  It usually includes humour and, boy, did it!  Speakers included Dorothy Zemach and Jamie Keddie. For the first time there was a fantastic Pecha Kucha debate: ‘This house believes teachers should be paid more than bankers’.  The obviously biased proposal clearly won, with the teachers (Sandy Millin, Jo Gakonga) preaching to the converted, though the bowler-hatted ‘bankers’ (Andy Cowle, Caroline Moore) did a great job of trying to convince us otherwise.  My personal PK highlight, however, was Marisa Constantinides’ very irreverent talk on what to do and what not to do as a teacher.  Had I known what was coming I would have recorded it (2nd/3rd conditional?).  Luckily, Tyson Seburn had his ‘camera’ rolling…

There was a 2 hour symposium on Teacher-research for difficult circumstances on Thursday, introduced by my former tutor at the University of Warwick, ReSIG outreach coordinator and curator of the ELT archive, Richard Smith, along with Prem Phyak. It was co-presented by Paula Rebodello (British Council/Mineduc Chile), Michelle Evans (Warwick), Asil Lidice Gokturk Saglam (Ozyegin), Cameroon’s Harry Kuchah (Bath) and Annamaria Pinter (Warwick) and Rama Mathew.  There is a playlist of videos from this. These were recorded by those involved in the symposium, not by British Council or IATEFL online.  Recordings like these supplement the aforementioned coverage.

Richard Smith - Teacher-research Symposium

Some featured Interviews:

IATEFL Online BC 2017 Interviews

As I stated in the previous post, there are 70 interviews available, which were recorded throughout the conference.  I have featured a number here which I found particularly interesting.  There are loads more at IATEFL Online.

Varinder Unlu was asked about the newest Special Interest Group, IP & SEN, which includes my friends, Sharon Noseley and Rachael Harris on the committee.

Angelos Bollas was interviewed by guest host, Scott Thornbury, about the issue of ‘hetereonormality’ in ELT and LGBT representation in coursebook and other materials. This exchange between two gay men provided an excellent exploration which delved deep into the issue and has been widely shared.  I was glad to finally meet Angelos at this conference, go for a meal and watch him co-present the Pecha Kucha.  I was not able to attend his talk as I forgot to add it to my agenda in the conference app and didn’t realise it had taken place until later.  Fortunately, Marisa Constantinides, also of CELT ATHENS and #ELTchat, was this time on the other end of the camera and recorded it on Livestream – her recording is here. There are also some photos from the TDSIG day c/o Michael Harrison.  Interview below:

Here is an interview with Nick Bilbrough, Shereen Irziquat and Salam Affouni.  Nick talks his session on Drama with a small ‘d’ with low-level learners. He linked to children in Gaza as part of the Hands Up! project.  Nick and Salam talk about their experience as British Council trainers in Gaza and Shereen gives her perspective as a trainee working with Palestinian teachers in UNRWA schools.

[Viddler ID=8eaf62d7]    or link here (as embed code doesn’t seem to be working)

Glasgow 2017 (16)

I had the pleasure of meeting roving reporter Sagun Shrestha from Nepal at the LTSIG TDSIG PCE.  He spoke to me at lunch and afterwards about what he is doing with his local association (NELTA) and at Warwick. He is one of the current cohort of A.S.Hornby Educational Trust Scholars.  These twelve scholars presented at IATEFL in Forth on the topic of ‘Factors influencing English language teacher motivation‘.  The recording can be seen below:

Tyson Seburn who was asked about the Teacher Development SIG carnival, a day for professional development supported through social media.  I have just rejoined this SIG and hope to take part next January.

Here is an interview with another friend, Über tweeter (no not the taxi company) and serial blogger, Sandy Millin, about writing for the new IATEFL blog > blog.iatefl.org.

And finally… Richard Smith (again) and Shelagh Rixon have produced a publication called ‘A History of iatefl’, to coincide with the (I)ATEFL’s 50th birthday. The book had a long gestation period.  They gave a presentation on its release in the auditorium on Wednesday evening.  I was otherwise engaged in a social event but thankfully there was an interview with the authors. Richard kindly read and left a comment on my previous post. His book was posted (by snail mail) on the day of the talk and was waiting for me (as well as every other current IATEFL member/delegate) when I got home from Glasgow and will also be made available online for free. A nice surprise!  It looks like a very informative account of the association which I joined in 2012 (when it was 45!) and have been a member since.

History of iatefl book


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