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Getting There & Being There


Ahead of the Free Teacher Development Workshops for TEFL teachers, taking place in Barcelona and Prague during March (see the links at the bottom of this post for further details), I spoke to some of the presenters.

First of all, I spoke to Andrea Downing, who is doing two back-to-back workshops in Prague on March 1st. which have the intriguing titles of “Getting There” and “Being There”.

She has been teaching for fourteen years in Asia, the Middle East, Central Europe. Her main roles have included teacher, academic manager, teacher trainer, course designer and materials writer and her main area of professional interest is teacher development.

To start with, I asked about the first, which focuses on career advancement in the world of TEFL.

MB: Why did you opt to do this particular workshop?

“I wanted to do this workshop because it’s something I wish had been available to me a few years back when I was wondering how to progress my TEFL career. I just find it so exciting that this English teaching business offers the opportunity not just to work all over the world, or to work with all types of different people and ages, but also the opportunity to get involved in areas additional to teaching. For the last 7 years I’ve been working freelance in teaching, teacher training and, more recently, materials writing and course design. I’ve also had a few academic management roles along the way. It’s a busy, crazy life but I love it. People do ask me about how I find work and how I learned what was needed for these roles and I’ve been thinking for some time that there might be a useful workshop in the answers to those questions. So please come along, and bring any questions that you have.  Whether you have experience in these fields or not you are very welcome.”

MB: What should teachers expect from your workshop?

AD: “We’ll look at some real life situations, so you’ll get the chance to deal with a sticky management problem, think about designing a teacher training/development session and grapple with a genuine brief for materials creation. We’ll also discuss the different possible career routes in the wonderful world of EFL”

We then turned to the second, “Being There”, which looks at one task that faces many teachers on higher rungs of the TEFL career ladder: observing other teachers.

AD: “I wanted to do this workshop because it gives me a chance to share a passion – working with teachers in the (sometimes stressful) situation of observing and giving feedback on classes. Not that it has always been a passion. At one stage I was so nervous about being observed I almost gave up teaching, but I’m glad I stuck with it. Since I started being professionally responsible for observations over ten years ago, work, I’ve given the subject a lot of thought. Is teacher observation a dark art , a lucky dip or a scientific process? Or none of these?

MB: What should teachers expect from your workshop? Who’s it designed for?

AD: “This workshop will examine the observation process from both the teacher’s and observer’s perspectives. As such, it is suitable for teachers who currently have observation responsibility, who would like to become more involved in teacher observation and development and teachers who are observed by others. We’ll have fun with hands-on-experience via role-plays, and also discuss techniques from the educational and psychological fields which can be applied in the observation/feedback context.”

Andrea Downing’s two workshops, “Getting There” and “Being There”, take place at Oxford TEFL in Prague on March 1st, from 13:00 to 15:00.

We invite you to give feedback on these workshops, or ask Andrea questions, by leaving a comment below.

Find out more about Oxford TEFL’s Free Teacher Development Workshops for TEFL teachers, taking place in Barcelona and Prague during March by checking out these links.


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