Sarah Mercer’s plenary on 5th April was a hit! Her topic “Connecting minds: language learner and teacher psychologies” struck a chord with many in the audience.
If you couldn’t watch it live, you can catch up here, thanks to the British Council and Iatefl Online!
I heard lots of people talking about the plenary, and lots of speakers referred to it too, “as Sarah Mercer said…. ” Etc. It was her final points about teachers’ psychological wellbeing that seem to have made the biggest impression!
Here are some if the comments and reactions I heard when I asked people to record a quick audio of their thoughts on her talk. Please add your own comments below!
- In my context its always like the teacher is the expert and has control over the class, so are, like, meant to keep a distance, authority figure, you know? For a long time I’ve thought that, well, maybe different kinds of relationship, like no authority or distance, not so much, less hierarchy might be better. So I was so happy, I felt like a confirmation, when Sarah Mercer said the same thing today. Why don’t more people think like this at home? But I’m going to tell them, I was right, we should maybe, well, maybe its time to think about some change.
- What I particularly liked in the talk were the small, specific tips. So, I mean, small tips of things we can easily adopt into our teaching that might have a big effect. Just like, “smile!”
- Actually, well-being was my prediction of a ‘big topic’ for this year’s conference. And there have been lots of talks on it, for teachers and learners, like also mindfulness stuff and positive psychology for classrooms and teaching. I liked the plenary, and I’ve been seeing this topic come up more an more in conference talks. I think having the “look after yourself” message made so well in a plenary might really start to move things forward in that area. Which can only be a good thing, considering all the awful stories we’re hearing recently about work-life total imbalance in many teachers’ lives.
- It was refreshing to hear someone focus on the teachers’ health and mental wellbeing, when so much work focuses on learners. It was great, as a reminder, that, yes, learners are people, but so are teachers!
- I loved that metaphor, the one like on a plane! Please do your own mask before you help the children. I like it as an image for teachers looking after their wellbeing so they can help the children. And that we shouldn’t feel bad about it.
- I thought it was nice to reflect on the wellbeing of teachers for a change. It’s not something that is often focused on at these sorts of conferences. They often look at making the learner do better, but, yeah, making sure you’re doing the best for yourself first is obviously really important. So it was a good talk, reminding us.
- I don’t work in the classroom anymore, but I think that some of the points there, well I work in product development, but, yeah, the points, well, are relevant for working in teams, and like as a leader of a team, my emotions impact very much the motivation of the team mates. It’s the same in a classroom, as a teacher, so it was a good plenary also for people outside teaching, because it’s relevant there too. So yeah, it was good!