Continuing to take a look at the IATEFL experience through the eyes of our Scholarship winner

TDSIG welcomed our 2018 scholarship winner Gerhard Erasmus to the IATEFL Conference in Brighton. We’ve already heard from Gerhard about his run-up to the event and his thoughts on our joint PCE with LAMSIG – this time Gerhard shares his takeaways from the conference proper.

The conference

My own workshop was on Tuesday and focused on supporting teachers with lower English proficiency. The audience was great and I left with a few ideas I could explore further and I will be writing about these in the near future.

On Wednesday, I attended the LAMSIG showcase as management and leadership is one of the areas of interest to me. It was a day filled with quality talks that has inspired me to further explore areas of management that are not always considered when one moves from teacher to manager.


The TDSIG Showcase

One of my favorite sessions of the conference was the first session of the TDSIG Showcase. Silvana Richardson and Gabriel Diaz Maggioli spoke about inspired professional development and the main message was focused around the word INSPIRE. Research into professional development indicates that for it to be effective, it needs to INSPIRE.

I – Impact
N – Needs-based
S – Sustained
P – Peer collaborative
I – In-practice
R – Reflective
E – Evaluated

This set the tone for the day and contextualized every talk of the day.


Silvana Richardson and Gabriel Diaz Maggioli
Jennifer Wallace then spoke about Action Research and the program they have at UTS Insearch, how it is structured and how they set the program up. It was very informative and anyone watching the talk would be able to leave and try to do something similar in their own contexts. The best thing about the program is that it is small scale grassroots teacher led development through action research, but with the necessary support to allow teachers to grow and develop. It ticked every box in the INSPIRE checklist.

This was followed by the teacher development forum with three talks focusing on ‘Effective and Personalized professional development.’ The clarity of the INSPIRE acronym was evident throughout all three talks and the cohesion between sessions made it really good.

Oliver Beaumont and Duncan Jamieson spoke about how they have used Engage – Energize – Empower across two branches of their school. In my context, the absence of mentors (or buddies) means that induction programs often fail because there is too much information to process. They addressed this, as well as how they structure peer observations and action research.

Alastair Roy spoke asked whether we are really supporting new teachers and his talk was heavily focused on mentors. He mentioned that 91.7% of teachers he surveyed had never had a mentor, but more alarming was that 91% of teachers he looked at remained in the profession after five years if they had a mentor as opposed to only 71% if they did not. He clarified how he set up a mentoring program in his context and what managers could be doing to better support new teachers. This was of particular interest to me as mentoring and a buddy system is very much needed in my context.

Josh Round and Andy Gaskins closed the forum by talking about Personalized Development Groups.  The collaborative nature of PDGs again ticks all the boxes in the INPSIRE acronym and the biggest lesson to be learnt from this is that proper CPD is lined to improved student outcomes. They highlighted the importance of CPD being classroom based, personalized, situated in practice, sustained over time, and collaborative. The reoccurrence of action research in this talk clearly highlights the importance of action research in teacher development and is something I would have to incorporate in my own teaching context.


Josh Round, Andy Gaskins, Alastair Roy, Oliver Beaumont, Duncan Jamieson
The session after lunch was by three people I admire very much. Tessa Woodward, Kathleen Graves and Donald Freeman did a workshop on Teacher Development Over Time. The majority of the workshop was centred around a book they had published with the same name as the talk and participants were guided through three activities from the book. The activities focused on past, present and future and the usefulness of these activities in teacher development was clear from the session. The materials are well informed and researched and each author looked at different views on the trajectories of teacher life cycles and teacher development. In short, the book is on my want list.

Christian Tiplady then spoke about the need for observations to focus more on learners and learner outcomes, rather than on the teacher. He explained how he used this approach to allow learners to give feedback on lessons and to incorporate this feedback into the observation to allow the teachers to notice learner experience and learner outcomes in their reflections on the lesson.

I missed the final session of the Showcase as I had to attend a meeting, but the main theme for me was that I needed to return to my context and ensure that we do more to make CPD INSPIREd rather than just continue with the programs we currently have and a big inclusion would need to be a focus on action research.

Donald Freeman
Kathleen Graves
Did you come to IATEFL? What were your takeaways from the conference? Leave us a comment below – and keep your eyes on the TDSIG blog for part three of Gerhard’s IATEFL experience – where he shares his reflections on the whole week and his plans for the future.