SUSSEX DIRECTOR OF STUDIES ASSOCIATION

BLT – by Ed Russell

Brighton Language Teachers

In recent months some of you may have been aware of something called Brighton Language Teachers (BLT) taking place. No, it’s not a sandwich; it’s a loose association of Sussex-based teachers who have come together to learn with and from their local network. Some local teachers have been asking their Directors of Studies about the events. So here’s a list of the most common questions SDOSAs and teachers are asking.

1.      Where did this idea come from?

At IATEFL Brighton 2018, Anna Neil (LSI) and Adam Scott (St Giles) worked together on an event called IATEFL fringe. This was an independently organised, teacher-questions led event which included a round-table element. After the success of this, general positivity about the conference, and a positive feeling around meeting up with local teachers, they (with Ed Russell, ELC) decided to organise some more regular meet ups for teachers in Brighton. They agreed and originally committed to doing the project for six months, so will review the project after the March meetup.

2.               What have you been doing?

We started in October.  We held our January meeting a few weeks ago. So four meetings under the belt, there is definitely a BLT way. Our largest meeting to date was 16, our smallest just five!

It’s very developmentally oriented, that is the attending teachers are there to learn better ways of doing things for themselves. There is advice, support and activities are organised, but the choices and direction comes from teachers themselves. A good example of this would be using co-operative development as a structure for our November event. Attending teachers spent thirty minutes in one of two roles, speaker or understander. The speaker chose an area to focus on that they wanted to explore their thinking on and the understander had – you can try this with your colleagues – more information and example here . Teachers attending said they enjoyed being listened to in such a full way, without being interrupted, advised, told what to do.

3.       Why are you doing it like that?

We believe that meaningful change in teachers professional lives come about when they are active participants in the knowledge making process. Each teacher is at their own developmental point and is best positioned to know the extent of their understanding, and what some of their own developmental next steps are, or some questions to ask to identify them. Equally, each teacher has a rich personal collection of experiences, skills and perspectives valuable in peer-support. Each teacher can offer fresh insights to familiar contexts, thereby supporting a other teachers’ own development, whether they have similar, more, less, or different teaching experience.

4.       What can I expect if I come?

It’ll be a surprise! But expect to work with colleagues, to listen to other developmentally minded teachers, to share interests, puzzle questions, thoughts and feelings, and to have practical ideas for future action too.

5.               How is it different to the SDOSA organised sessions?

SDOSA tend to be more ‘led’, that is there’s usually a PowerPoint presentation. We haven’t had a PowerPoint yet! Participants are the driving force of every session, which are designed to facilitate sharing, reflection and action on a theme.

6.               Will I get a certificate?

Unfortunately not! But come anyway!

The next meeting of BLT will be on Mon 18th February, 6pm-8pm at the English Language Centre, Palmeira Mansions, Hove.

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An association of Academic Managers/ Directors of Studies from EFL schools across Sussex. Our focus is on resourcing and training teachers.