by Divya Madhavan

It’s the start of IATEFL 2015! Every SIG holds their Pre-Conference Event today and at the TDSIG, our day is an Open Space, with four facilitators; Anthony Gaughan, Fiona Mauchline, Mike Harrison and Higor Cavalcante, who have travelled from near and far to work with us. We’ll be introducing their work to you in the course of the day, but in this opening post, let’s talk about what an open space is.

*It is a self-organizing practice of inner discipline and collective activity which releases the inherent creativity and leadership in people. By inviting people to take responsibility for what they care about, Open Space establishes a marketplace of inquiry, reflection and learning, bringing out the best in both individuals and the whole*. (Willy C.Cardoso)IMG_0629

Mike Harrison started the day off by talking to us about two of his experimental practises, in his talk “Problematising the Language Classroom”. He framed the session with questions like *

How do we work out what the students need?

How do we plan an experiment to try something different in order to meet these needs**?

And can turning to alternative teaching methodology reward us with a positive outcome**?

Mike’s talk was full of stories, stories about his learners, stories about himself as a teacher, stories about the things he tried that did and didn’t work. It had a lot of profound self-questioning, such as the received wisdom of reducing teacher talk time and introducing outside observation into the reflective cycle. Mike also did a wonderful visualisation activity, that took the teachers in the room into their classrooms.epacademy-intro

Mike runs the Experimental Practice Academy online #epacademy, which he has just started. This space has interviews with colleagues in the field who have done experimental practice.

Mike ended his session with a few questions:

– How do we identify a problem in the classroom?

– How do we involve the students in the framing of this problem?

– How can we record this experience?

– How do we make sure that we gain something from the experience?