Thursday, May 26, 2011

Association of Teachers of English Lebanon ATEL 2011 14th Conference

The holiday was overshadowed a bit by being interviewed for summer work teacher training in Manchester, which I got (hurray!), and preparation for the Association of Lebanese Teachers of English conference. I didn't manage to prepare before leaving for Beirut, to my shame, and it took a while to re-jig it into a 30min workshop. I wasn't really switched on.

30mins it turned out was no where near long enough. I got things a bit wrong and my workshop turned into a fairly unstructured talk, apologies if you were there. Some teachers left. It was embarrassing. However, I think I know where I went wrong. I planned to do this:

1. Warmer GTKY – you in cultural terms

2.Introduction to context and problem

3. DMIS outline

4. Teachers apply DMIS to my problem and feedback

I did this:

1. GTKY as above

2. Talked for 15 mins about intro and problem

3. Introduced DMIS

4. Panicked as I was running out of time

I should have done this I did

1. DMIS – what does it stand for? Or Inter-cultural aspects, your approach

2. Given hand out with DMIS and mini-descrptions

3. Given sample tasks (my tasks) for teachers to rate on scale (check understanding of DMIS)

4. Asked them to respond to my problem/issue

That said I am not 100% sure that 30mins would be enough, at least with the third version, above, teachers had hands on DMIS early and were engaged in using it. Another problem was my lack of context knowledge about the attendee teachers and Lebanon, particularly culturally.

This sensation of flopping was a strange experience as just a month ago I did a very similar workshop for ISTEK that went really quite well. I was confident I would soar like an eagle. The ISTEK one was longer, 45mins instead of 30mins, my spot was better, rather than at the end of a long morning's professional development, and these may have been one of many contributing factors. Anyway, it didn't go according to plan. The plan was ill-conceived, though well intentioned.

Another noteworthy point is that, the rationale for my workshop was produced for a 60min slot, do I slavishly stick to the advertised contents (what I tried to do). Or do I, adapt adapt adapt, yet perhaps disappoint some who thought they would get something different.

My most recent MA assignment has been about the need to re-imagine conferences and workshops, perhaps this had an influence too. Either way, the process of trying to work out and improve for next time (?) has been useful, as always. What I don't have this time is any participants to keep in touch with. Last time I collated emails to continue the conversation after the event.

There were a number of positives to the trip. I got to meet some of the Levantine teacher trainers from BC and IH. I also had some nice words from someone at UNWRA. The lady also said that as a Palestinian in Lebanon she frequently suffered discrimination and racism. I also got to meet Bill from AUB, whose blog I have linked to below. He talked about an Intercultural Exchange facilitated by CMC (computer mediated communication).

I am still proud of my work on this and I'd like to do a full day training teachers in how to use the DMIS to approach intercultural aspects of their teaching, but who has a full day for something like that? Where can I do that kind of thing?


  1. Hi Ed,

    Thanks for this reflection on your workshop, especially as it didn't go so well. This kind of fits in with my recent assignment on blogging as a self-development tool where I highlighted the issue with people perhaps being reluctant to discuss anything other than 'perfect teaching moments' in an online space.

    For me, there are two major issues with workshops (at this stage in my career at least) - first, all that work and you often get just one shot at doing it; second, the time (30-50 mins) is rarely enough to introduce an idea AND do some kind of practical activity as is expected.

    My ISTEK workshop, for example, could have been better and I had a couple of great ideas to imorove it AFTER it was over. However, with no other conferences coming up I'm not sure when I'll get the chance to do it again. The other face-to-face workshop I did this year on using Twitter and blogs for PD was all interactive but that left me with hardly any time to cover some of the theory and tips for getting the most out of it...

    Have fun in Manchester in the summer. I think Nergiz is there teaching a summer course at the University as well. :)

  2. Nice one Dave. I might try and get in touch with Negriz, I seem to remember she wrote a paper about her work there in our first year....

    I agree it is going against the grain to write about what didn't go so well. As with much of the writing I come across online most people are image and PR conscious. This is perhaps also dictated by audience appetites for fluff! Glad you empathise.