Teachers’ Meetings: The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly

colon_willi_goodtheba_101b.jpgTeachers meetings run the gamut from being soporific (hat tip to the GRE prep materials) to functioning as a point for sharing of ideas and practical activities.

The Good

  • Sharing ideas. Most of the best ideas and activities, including many I’ve shared right here on the TEFL Logue, have come informally from other teachers I’ve worked with, sometimes at teachers’ meetings – this is one of the primary ways teachers get new ideas.
  • I don’t love admin, but it is about one hundred times nicer to get a concise update on, say, new testing procedures and marking in an organized meeting where it is explained to everyone (and questions answered) than to hear it second hand or in passing from a colleague, or worse, from a student ten minutes before the test.
  • Teachers meetings provide at least a basis for teacher input. Not all schools will take it into consideration, but a meeting is a great place for opening the floor to comments if they do.

The bad

  • The downsides of teachers’ meetings are probably the same as those of any workplace meeting – when it’s poorly organized, when you’re required to be there even though you don’t seem to need to be. Whereas workplace meetings in other fields might cut into the time you have to do your work, teachers’ meetings may be on unpaid time, and/or may be arranged at bizarre hours when most teachers are not teaching (such as Friday nights).
  • Here’s one that’s unique to teaching abroad: you are a foreign teacher, hopefully a qualified one, but you have been hired in large part as someone who doesn’t speak the language , yet you are required to attend a meeting of English teachers that is held in the foreign language you don’t speak. Often informal translating may be a possibility, but it can seriously limit your participation (and that of the teacher translating for you) if it’s not well-organized.

Share your experience with and opinion of teachers’ meetings with Carol at ESL Lesson Plan: does your school have them?