Dear all,

as you know this year four of our colleagues attended IATEFL 2017 and delivered their presentations. Below, please find their reflections.

Happy reading 🙂

Sultan Zeydan:

  • Presentation Title: Who should take responsibility for teachers’ ongoing professional development?

 Brief information about the conference:

The International Association of Teachers of English as a Foreign Language (IATEFL) runs an annual international conference for English language teachers in the UK. This year the conference was held in Glasgow between April 4 and April 7. Gabriel Diaz Maggioli, Sarah Mercer, J, J. Wilson and Jane Setter, who were the plenary speakers of the conference, mentioned various topics from professional development, the psychology in the language classrooms to social justice in ELT.

Brief information about my/our presentation:

It should be accepted that professional development cannot be disconnected from reality, so it should be job embedded supported through personalized learning. Schools should be structured in a way that teachers can share their experiences with their colleagues, and learn from each other. In this regard, classroom observations, update meetings and team meetings are valuable platforms to reflect on the needs, and learn from experiences. My presentation aimed to question what we should understand from continuous professional development, and whose responsibility it is. In my talk I shared my own experiences on how I tried to turn some meeting platforms into learning opportunities both for me and my team.

“Highlights from Conference”:

  • Empowering teachers through continued professional development: frameworks, practices and promises by Gabriel Diaz Maggioli

The star of the conference was Gabriel Diaz Maggioli for me because the theme of his speech was effective professional development for teachers. In his speech he underlined that standardized (one size fits all or one size fits most) and decontextualized professional development activities fail to help language teachers in their professional journey.

15 years ago – PD Now – PD
Away from the job

Transmission of knowledge and skills

Individual teachers


Collaborative and reflective development

Learning communities


During his speech he gave very useful recommendations to teachers on how they can promote learning communities in schools, and help their colleagues learn and develop.

  • Feedback, feedforward, motivation, trust: coaching and interpersonal classroom skills’ by Ben Dobbs

“How can we ensure that our feedback is developmental?” is one of the most provoking questions of the conference. Ben shared his approach, called BACK, and underlined the importance of feedforwarding in his talk.

B-bin- what should be removed- is the task was done again?

A-add-what was omitted but was needed based on reflection

C-change-what would require some adjustments to improve the performance

K-keep- what was good/ worked well

  • Connecting Minds: Language Learner by Sarah Mercer

Sarah Mercer spoke about the need for teachers to be ‘psychologically-wise’ because ‘psychologically-wise’ teachers can make huge differences in the lives of their learners. Positive relationships, focus on positivity & growth, and nurturing professional wellbeing are the key principles of ‘psychologically-wise’ teachers. She explained all these points with relevant research and examples.


Serkan Aras & Gökçe ÜnlĂŒ:

  • Presentation Title: Turning the Beast Into a Beauty
  • Presenter(s): Serkan Aras & Gökçe ÜnlĂŒ

Brief information about my/our presentation:

We presented the accreditation process that we went through in 2015 and 2016. Below is the abstract of our presentation:

The process of getting accredited can be perceived as a challenge by institutions. However, it became a fruitful experience for our institution. This presentation will cover our journey of accreditation: how it all started, proceeded and reached the happy ending. It will also provide some practical tips for schools aiming to turn accreditation into a rewarding and developmental process.

Almost 50 people attended the session. It took 30 minutes and we could have a chance to answer the questions in last 5 minutes.

It was really very satisfactory to hear international colleagues’ positive feedback. More than half of the presentation room was full and the audience was very much interested how we turned the accreditation challenge into a developmental process. Some professionals in the audience found our change story very efficient and they interviewed us after the presentation and they will be presenting it on their own websites.

“Highlights from Conference”:

Plenary sessions were really good.

The plenary by Gabriel Diaz Maggioli reminded that professional development is the responsibility of both the teacher and the school. Moreover, he claimed that professional development should be done “with the teachers” not “to the teachers”. Maggioli also said that it is important not to require a lot of extra time from teachers and it is better to incorporate professional development activities into working hours.

Another plenary speaker J J Wilson presented a different approach to teaching a language. Inspired by Paulo Freire’s book called Pedagogy of the Oppressed, Wilson claimed that teachers can include social justice issues in the classroom. These activities include drama, poetry, images, community projects, and so on.

Sarah Mercer’s plenary talk was about the importance of psychology in ELT classrooms (both teachers’ and students’ psychology). She put forward that when we praise the students, it has to be informative and they should know why they are praised. In my opinion, the best quotation from the talk was “kids don’t learn from people they don’t like”.

Jane Setter’s plenary talk was about intonation. She presented a research that examined how native speakers and non-native speakers perform in intonation exercises after a certain period of training. The interesting result was that mostly non-native students perform better in tests compared to native speakers.

The session by Johanna Stirling was titled “Engaging, achievable, sustainable: activities for low-level literacy in EAP” . The session gave practical ideas that can be applied in class to help low-level learners write successfully at word and sentence level.

The session by Stephanie Aldred was titled “Is seeing always believing? An approach to classroom observation”. The session questioned the reliability of class observations. Basically, the presenter suggested that we should encourage different ways of observation such as peer observation to promote the reliability of observations. The more we decrease stress experienced by the observed teacher, the more reliable the observation could be.

The session by Shirley Norton was about how to manage change management. Norton presented 4 change management cases that she experienced: two of them were successful, two of them were not. She claimed that to make a change fruitful and acceptable, it is important to spend a lot of time before making the change with the all staff. Rather than doing research and coming to conclusions at the beginning on one’s own, it is important to include everybody and to listen to their concerns at the beginning.

The session by Deniz Kurtoğlu Eken was titled “Looking into ‘the marrow’: researching school ethos and culture”. As we conducted a similar ethos study last year before accrediation,  this talk interested me. They conducted a similar study but they also included the perspective of the students as well, which is applicable for us too.


Aslı Lidice GöktĂŒrk Sağlam

  • Presentation Title: Teacher Research 2.0
  • Presenter(s): Aslı Lidice Gokturk Saglam & Michelle Evans

 Brief information about my/our presentation:

We described and evaluated an innovative attempt to provide online teacher research guidance for teachers with limited development opportunities who are working in difficult circumstances (large classes, low-resource classrooms, etc.). The intervention incorporated ideas from the ‘Teacher-research for Difficult Circumstances’ impact initiative ( into a five week TESOL EVO session.

Here are Aslı Sağlam and Michelle Evans reporting about Classroom-based Research EVO at the IATEFL2017 conference in the Symposium on Teacher-research for Difficult Circumstances

Together with my co-presenter we were interviewed as a part of online coverage of the Annual International IATEFL Conference about our work in supporting classroom based teacher-research with a network of teachers in the TESOL Electronic Village Online. The link to interview is here:

“Highlights from Conference”:

Gabriel Mggioli delivered a ‘master class’ in professional development. Those who are interested in CPD may enjoy watching the session at this link: