Our TDSIG Day at the IATEFL Annual Conference in Glasgow kicks off with Jane Spiro, who will be speaking on the topic of reading and how this can shape us as teachers, running right from childhood. In this first post about our SIG Day speakers, you’ll find links to a video to introduce Jane and she also answers a few quick TD-related questions…

Jane Spiro – We are what we read: how reading shapes teachers

What’s your session at IATEFL all about?

My session looks at ways in which teachers are shaped by their reading, not only professionally or academically, but outside professional life, and from childhood: first experiences hearing stories read aloud, favourite childhood books, books in adolescence and early adulthood which  changed your view of the world. The session is based on research carried out with more than 50 teachers over a 3-year period, reflecting on these influences; and leads to an invitation to include personal reading histories in teacher development programmes.

jane spiro hawaii

Jane (wearing the garland) with teacher educators in Hawaii

If you were stuck on a desert island, which book would you take with you and why?

This is really embarrassing to say, but I keep returning to my own book, Changing Methodologies in TESOL, because I enjoy the stories of teachers and learners there, many of whom emerged from my own experiences with teachers worldwide. So when I read this, it for me is like immersing myself in a novel or film, with all my favourite and familiar scenes and people.

What piece of advice would you give to a teacher starting to think about their practice?

I think the key advice to teachers is to do anything – anything – to encourage learners to tell their own stories – not surface stories about what I did in my holidays etc. – but deeper ones about where grandparents came from, what their childhood was like, how their parents met, how life has changed since their own childhood, what they think about that.  It’s a real reason to use language and want to share it; and if the first language is a route towards this, then so be it. It turns a class into individuals, and it turns a lesson into a journey.

Thank you, Jane!

Remember you can still book your place for Glasgow 2017 on the IATEFL website. Hope to see you there!