A chance to talk with colleagues…..an educational luxury

The fact that I haven’t posted anything for a month tells me something very clearly, I’m working my way through a very busy period. Weeks are flying by towards Christmas and schedules are packed with countless activities, preparation, planning, plus of course simply giving lessons. Most people who work in education will recognize this.

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We encourage our pupils to reflect on their activities, to learn from their successes and failures, but as a teacher there often seems so little time to step back and think about what we are doing, and even less time to do this with colleagues of our own subject area.

The value of such an opportunity was made clear a week ago by an annual meeting I chair of art teachers, teaching in bilingual education in the Netherlands. On the agenda, with the twenty-five other art educators present were three main points:

  1. CLIL – the bilingual teachers educational mainstay of Content and Language Integrated Learning; that is to say, how do you teach the content of your subject whilst simultaneously teaching a second language (English in my case).  As coordinator I am expected to throw some good CLIL practices into the group.
  2. Digitalization in the art room
  3. Resources – Where do we draw our ideas and inspiration when developing new material

I’ve been doing these meetings for a few years now and find it a tricky balance to strike between leading the meeting and trying to get discussion going (between a group of teachers who don’t really know one another). I prepared some material but went into the meeting hoping that the others present would be open and willing to contribute.

Was I nervous? Well maybe just a little bit, but I certainly didn’t need to have been, what a fantastic meeting we had. Three hours flew by. What a luxury three hours of open and constructive discussion felt. So often I sit in meetings crammed onto the end of the school day with colleagues who are worn out and, let’s be honest, wanting to head home to get on with some marking, pick the children up from school, do the groceries….etc. But this occasion was different, rarely have I sat in on a discussion session with such a group of people wanting to participate, share and learn….all together.

I left the meeting feeling invigorated and enthusiastic. It was three hours of pure subject content and there is perhaps a lesson for all in education. There is a time and a place for meetings concerning planning and organization, that’s important stuff. But don’t let it dominate every meeting….it is the love of the content that brought many of us to education in the first place and it is engaging with content that recharges our batteries.

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