Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Motivated to motivate? Reflections on the ELTA 11th Annual Conference, Belgrade

ELTA, the association of English language teachers in Serbia, organised its annual conference last weekend at the Pedagogical Faculty in Belgrade. Despite the hot weather, lots of teachers attended (and hopefully enjoyed) a wide range of plenary talks and workshops. I wouldn't personally have expected to participate in any "Bollywood dancing", for example - if you were there, you know what I'm talking about. 

I had a double slot before the lunch break on Friday, starting with a 45-minute workshop on classroom dynamics, followed by a 60-minute plenary on teacher motivation. 

Although devised as a workshop, my first session (All for one, one for all) didn't really work as such. We were given the main lecture hall, which meant that on the stage I was separated from my training group by several metres and I had to use a microphone as well because of the big space - not really conducive to good two-way interaction. I'd planned several questions where I was going to elicit trainees' responses first before exploring the issues myself, but standing on that stage, I simply couldn't hear them... Note to self: perhaps next time try to find out which room I'll be given further ahead of time so I can plan accordingly? Despite the less-than-ideal conditions, I hope teachers benefited from the content.

The workshop was organised around activity ideas for each stage in the formation of a working group from Forming to Storming to Norming to Performing (terminology from Tuckman, 1969, quoted in Argyle: Social Interaction. 1969, Tavistock Press, London - in case you wanted to know) which I encouraged teachers to consider trying in their own classes as they start in their new groups in the next school year.

For anyone wanting to download a handout copy of my workshop (with said activity ideas and a short recommended reading list), follow this link: https://www.box.com/s/24r3zzdwpemkewohmxv7.

In my plenary, the focus was on teacher motivation: where it comes from, and what teachers can do to maintain their own motivation. The idea actually came about as an extension of a talk I did on 23 February at the OUP Day at the Sava Centar in Belgrade. The February session explored student motivation, which got me thinking about how this was connected (assuming at that point that it was) to teacher motivation, then I shared the results of my further research with the delegates at ELTA. For anyone wanting to explore the subject further, here are a few recommendations:
M. Praver and W. Oga-Baldwin: What motivates language teachers. Investigating work satisfaction and second language pedagogy. In: Polyglossia Vol.14, February 2008.
G. Demes da Cruz: From limitation to motivation: fourteen tips on how to enhance motivation in the EFL class. From www.developingteachers.com.
L. Bartlett: Teacher development through reflective teaching. In: J.C. Richards and D. Nunan (eds): Second language teacher education. 1990, Cambridge University Press.

I have also contributed a short article on student motivation to the April issue of the ELTA Newsletter, and those interested can check it out here: http://www.britishcouncil.rs/predavanje-engleskog/elta-e-bilten/april-2013.

I really enjoyed ELTA - Serbian teachers are always a joy to work with. Look forward to my next opportunity to re-test this impression. :-)

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