Saturday, May 01, 2004

a discursive space for talk, opinion and renewal?

I fortunate to be asked by people at VATE (Victorian Association for the Teaching of English) to present on a panel of early career teachers at a conference specifically for early career teachers. Four of us - my colleagues were the wonderful and eloquent Katrina, Olivia and Paige - spoke of our experiences entering the profession and shared some stories of success and failure. The session was well attended, and after we all spoke there was some excellent dialogue, questioning and comments.

It is heartening to attend these sorts of events and chat with people who are committed, interested and passionate about English teaching. It 'fires up the boilers' and gets the blood running to know that many others are toiling away at the 'coal face', loving every minute of it (well most minutes). The kind of professional learning that goes on at sessions like these is a something I think we need to ponder more and more. Te power of sharing common experience, but doing it a way that does not necessarily encourage 'crap talk' - the kinds of destructive talk that teachers can often engage in when they are stressed and tired and overworked (most of the time perhaps). Obviously, there is a difference between 'blowing of steam' and engaging in come critical refection about our work. Getting teachers together for the later can result in some fantastic learning and 'knowledge contruction'. Perhaps that is why governments and regional education departments don't seem to encourage this kind of thing. We might get ideas you see ...

I guess I would have liked to get some more feedback from people listening in. It's very easy for me to say that there was some interesting conversation, but I have been in the 'audience' before and have felt pretty cheated - as if some guru (the sage on the stage) is stroking their own ego. Despite this, this type of conference, where teachers talk WITH teachers (instead of AT them), is a palpable example of how to open up discursive spaces for reflective talk.

Did see Nathan, which was excellent.

Rather than hang around and attend the other conference sessions, I hurried back to school - some loose ends etc. I realise this might be pretty sad, but I have a VASS (VCE Administration Software System) deadline on Monday.

When I arrived back at school I found the staffroom door locked - it is never locked. It turns out that everyone else had gone to lunch. A few days ago we had talked about the need to 'get out' more - i.e. get out of the school more together - lunch, dinner, etc. Just to talk about work and whatever else without hassles and interruptions.

KB needs to know that she is doing a FANTASTIC job getting this faculty 'online' again. I don't mean technological, but TOGETHER and REVITALISED. There is a noticable difference in the attitudes and motivation of some staff. I think she probably feels that all her hard work is not achieving much. I guess sometimes it can be hard to see change that close - esp when you are a major part of it. For what its worth I think she's excellent. GO KAZZA! She doesn't know it, but a discursive space is slowly being opened up for productive talk (even if this means stating dissatisfaction with the status quo). This includes the idea of an English 'newsletter', more time with each other outside of the workplace (lunch etc.) and even the possibiliy of some subversive publishing (we thought we could publish a little book of all the bosses amusing, mental and stupid quips).

enough ... (oh and Es back from a week in Syd!)


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