March 20, 2013 by Willy Cardoso
On 8 March I had the pleasure to host an Open Space session at the 20th IATEFL Slovenia Conference.
If it’s the first time you hear about Open Space as an organizing framework for meetings, (un)conferences, etc, take a look at this adapted version of Open Space principles and the excellent law of two feet.
I also usually like to show participants bits of the wikipedia entry, highlighting that:
The issues that are most important to people will get discussed.
After a brief intro, participants wrote their questions/issues on post-it notes and then voted. We decided to break out in three groups to discuss the three most voted topics.
What is most interesting about Open Space – apart from letting people who came to the conference to develop decide what they need to discuss in order to develop – is that the topics that will get discussed may be topics that would never be proposed by speakers in the traditional way conference programmes are designed. (see below for the one on age)
Whereas I gave a plenary in which I spoke for 45min about things that I like, that I wrote, that I experienced, that I, I, I… and I think that is valid method; I also feel that this is a transmission method, and as such is not enough and that we also need to open space for dialogic and interpretative opportunities for teachers at conferences that go beyond the informality and extrovert-orientation of coffee breaks. Open Space is the way!
– Here are the summaries I received after the session (thanks Biljana Makuljevic and Shelly Terrell for sending them):
Group question: “Does the teacher’s age influence his/her work in the classroom?”
Main subtopic: AGE VS. RESPECT
Teachers in our group have noticed that, nowadays, being a teacher does not mean that the mere title makes children respect you (assuming you are the source of knowledge). The internet made it so much easier to look up things which interest them, and approachable to learn new things on their own.
We reached a conclusion that age does not have much to do with respect, it’s something that is more related to the teacher’s personality.
If you show respect to them, they will show respect back (the what-goes-around-comes-around approach).
As a teacher you must be prepared for anything as soon as you enter your classroom. There are many unpredictable factors which can contribute to your lesson, and you have to be prepared to deal with them (flexibility).
Some teachers stated that they are not afraid of old age, but of becoming old teachers.*
Our conclusion was that age is not important. What is important depends on the individual.
*This is an issue which, I believe, could be discussed further, and should be discussed as often as possible. If you are afraid of yourself, of something that comes from within, children will notice that, and could use it against you.
Topic: I want to improve as a teacher
- Difficult to choose which method, 100s to choose from
- Constraints from schools can hinder
- How do you motivate students and teachers
- Other teachers may resent your efforts
- Other constraints- curricula, student thinks they know best waytolearn, testing
- Working with peers and peer observations
- Good to consult someone- a mentor or online
- Gather student feedback
- Teachers need wider skills
- If you have a good time and the students have a good time it works