And then, I'm not sure when exactly, all that seemed to die down. Going to talks, mingling with colleagues from other schools, nabbing free books from publishers - you couldn't take that stuff for granted any more. I lost myself in exam preparation classes for years and when I looked back up the ELT landscape in Dublin seemed a bit barren, a bit fragmented. We were all still teaching, great things were still happening in classrooms but the sense of belonging to a wider teaching community wasn't there any more (at least, that's how it seemed to me at the time).
Skip forward to around 2013, I think. I was at a talk (they didn't stop altogether) and a stylishly dishevelled chap (I say that enviously as an aspiring, but ultimately failed, hipster) stood up to announce that he was part of a group that were starting an organisation for teachers called ELT Ireland. Not being the most prescient at the best of times, I shrugged and thought no more of it. That was about 3 years ago and since then ELT Ireland have gone on to do fabulous things for teachers here in Dublin, myself included.
|Nabbed this photo from Laura O'Grady's Twitter feed. I'm sitting where the cool teachers sit.|
Their first conference was two years ago. As well as having talks from established names, they gave a load of us teachers a chance to try our hand at presenting. In the past, I was often frustrated by talks that didn't seem to reflect the reality I teach in. Opening up a forum for teachers in Ireland means you might not get the sheen but the energy, the sense of a practitioner working through stuff and reflecting it back to us is powerful.
ELT Ireland also do an annual bulletin which is a chance for teachers to publish, they send out an email newsletter each week, run #ELTchinwag every two weeks and they host meet ups for managers. Their most recent conference was last week and covered a range of topics: non-native speaker discrimination; evidence based teaching; negotiated syllabi; CLIL; motivation; task based learning; managing your own CPD and teacher training; pronunciation (twice); questions; SEN; managing projects in a rolling enrolment environment as well as plenaries from Scott Thornbury, Silvana Richardson and Anne O'Keeffe. [Sorry there were tons of other great talks that I didn't get to see - concurrent sessions :( .... If you like, you can check out the hashtag #ELTIrl2017 ]
If this all reads like a hagiography, that's because it is. There are about five or six people involved in ELT Ireland and they're volunteers. It's a ton of work and stress and they're not paid for any of it. Whatever madness possesses them to do this, I'm glad of it. ELT in Ireland is in a better place on account of them.
|Peter Lahiff, Laura O'Grady, Lou McLaughlin, Joanne Mitten, Ben Dobbs|