Megan Wummer, Course Director at TEFL in Spain in Malaga, and Esme Fegan, Sales & Marketing Director at TEFL in Spain, attended the recent Mini-ELT Management Conference organised and hosted by Oxford TEFL Barcelona. In this blog post, they reflect on the experience and recount some of the main take-aways.
All too often ELT conferences overlook the management sector, so when Oxford TEFL announced their Mini-ELT Management Conference, we jumped at the chance to spend a day in Barcelona looking at the future of the ELT industry.
The event kicked off with Oxford TEFL Director Duncan Foord‘s opening plenary, which considered how we can conflate productivity and happiness in order to get into our zone of “flow” at work.
Oxford TEFL Director of Studies Judy Rose then gave an inspiring session entitled Lessons I’ve learnt: My first year as a DoS. Judy’s brutally honest talk recounted her triumphs and struggles during her first year as DoS and how this management role pushed her to grow personally and professionally and become a leader for teachers and students alike. Moral of the story? By reflecting on our own strengths and weaknesses, and our relationship dynamics at work, we can better face the challenges that come our way and exploit the opportunities to innovate and create!
Opportunities for networking at Oxford TEFL conferences always abound and this Mini-ELT Management conference was no exception. After Judy’s talk, we had the opportunity to continue the conversation with her outside in the garden. Chatting to directors of studies, course directors and school managers from around the world over sandwiches and vermouth in the garden was the highlight of this conference for us. One of our many garden networking takeaways? As a centre, we’re now successfully using Slack, a free app for workplace messaging, to enable better communication amongst our staff. Sharing ideas like this one, as well as connecting with other ELT management professionals, ensures that the learning and reflecting extend beyond the conference and into each of our own schools.
The next session started with a panel discussion which got off to a grim start with the following statistic from the British Council’s latest report: The total number of potential English language learners will drop by 15.3 million by the year 2025. However, Lindsay Clandfield assured us that our industry is not doomed to disappear, but will have to mold to the changing profiles of our consumers. The panel predicted that our future learners would include more non-native speaking English teachers and people looking for English classes as a social outlet. Coffee house classroom settings? Sign us up!
Nicky Hockly‘s session, Shaken not stirred: Blended learning for connoisseurs, gave us a peek inside blended classrooms and how technology has enabled schools to adapt to a completely different learner, one who prefers incorporating the convenience and tech-savviness of computers and the latest learning platforms. While we may not have flipped our classrooms yet, we are definitely excited about this shift in our industry and look to start offering our own online courses.
The afternoon sessions allowed attendees to choose between two different 3-hour sessions.
- Self-leadership to improve your time management and personal development with Duncan Foord. This workshop looked at ways that psychology can play a part in becoming effective leaders in our workplaces and how keeping our phones on airplane mode for one hour each morning can help us to spend our time more productively. This will then allow us to focus on the truly important tasks.
- Growing your business through Facebook and Instagram with Patrick Wind took a look at how businesses can boost their outreach through social medial platforms in order to target the 21st-century client. Instead of just walking us through a presentation, this hands-on session guided us through the step-by-step stages of creating our own Facebook ad personalized to our business and clients.
Taking a mini-break from our work schedule to attend this mini-conference was well worth it, as we have come back to our centre eager to implement these ideas in order to provide the best experience for our management staff, teachers and students.