Last Friday, the 21st of October, on behalf of BRAZ-TESOL (and sponsored by HELBLING LANGUAGES), I had the opportunity to join ELT colleagues in João Pessoa for the III EPPI – Encontro Paraibano de Professores de Inglês at UFPB (Universidade Federal da Paraíba). The event was organised by Professor Mariana Pérez and her team, who dedicate their lives to making a difference in the ELT profession, learners’ and teachers’ lives, and the community as a whole.
Upon arrival at the venue, participants had an immediate idea of the level of diligence and professionalism the organisers had in putting together the conference. A beautiful banner indicated to those coming from towns in the countryside (and beyond) they were in the right place.
At the entrance to the auditorium very friendly colleagues welcomed participants and offered a nice bag with useful gifts (pens, notepads, programme – and even a bottle of mineral water!). Inside the auditorium the organisation was also impeccable and the atmosphere, very positive.
I was given the honour to open the event with a plenary talk on pre-emptive and responsive teaching, a topic I’m passionate about. Standing on the shoulders of giants such as Allwright, Larsen-Freeman, Meddings & Thornbury, I argued that, generally speaking, our teaching practice continues to adopt a pre-emptive (linear, incremental, atomistic) approach, and that we should consider making it more responsive (organic, incidental, holistic). From the participation and engagement of the audience and hot feedback from colleagues, I felt the message was well understood and should generate reflection and – hopefully – positive change in teaching practice.
I was also invited to join the opening panel along UFPB, American Embassy and Consulate, and local government dignitaries. One common thread running through every panelist’s speech was the importance of collaboration and faith as we labour to make a difference in the community.
After the opening ceremony, it was time for Thomas Santos‘ (RELO – Regional English Language Officer | US Department of State) plenary, “Teacher Reflection and Professional Development.” Unfortunately I couldn’t stay as I had commitments in Natal the day after. I wish I had stayed to attend Alberto Costa‘s Spice It Up With Your Super Powers, sponsored by Cambridge Assessment and all the other 20+ interesting sessions going on.
In closing, I’d like to repeat what I wrote elsewhere: “as iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” So it is when teachers get together, because it is through other people’s eyes that we get to know ourselves better. It is from genuine interaction with colleagues that we hone our skills, sharpen our teaching techniques, find solutions to common problems, encourage one another and ultimately become happier human beings.” So, I don’t delight in going to ELT events for the mere sake of ‘professional development.’ I rejoice because I get to see friends, share my passion with others, hear about their passions and collaborate to drive positive change in people’s lives. On that note I leave with you the photo below:
BRAZ-TESOL Rio Grande do Norte Chapter
Together we are stronger
Photo Credits: Jacqueline Patrícia