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IATEFL ASSOCIATES' REGIONAL NETWORKING MEETING
There was a Meeting of Teacher Associations (TEAs Meeting)
in Budapest on 17-19 November 2000. The aim was for TEAs
in the region of Eastern Central Europe to get together,
share problems and concerns, and think together about ways
of effective management and increased collaboration. Seventeen
TEAs were represented from the following countries: Austria,
Bosnia-Hercegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic,
Hungary, Latvia, Poland, Romania, Russia, Slovakia,
Ukraine, Yugoslavia .
This write-up intends to give you an overview of the Budapest
TEAs Meeting. It consists of three parts. Part 1 contains quotations
from a pre-meeting questionnaire which participants filled in.
This will give you an idea of the different conditions TEAs work
under, as well as some of the problems, issues identified by each
TEA before coming to Budapest . Part 2 contains a brief summary
of the key ideas emerging during our groupwork tasks and whole
group discussions. This section is grouped based on the two main
threads running through the Meeting: Home Issues and Regional Issues.
We have included these summaries in the hope that they might provide
a useful cheklist for future meetings of this kind.
Finally, in the last section you will find some specific action
points which we agreed on at the end of the three days. Perhaps
it is this section in particular which might be relevant to interested
colleagues who did not attend the Budapest meeting.
I QUOTATIONS FROM PRE-MEETING QUESTIONNAIRE
1 Aims ( Bosnia and Herzegovina
) - "Our main priority now is re-establishing the national
teacher network after the Bosnian war."
2 Committee, organisation, SIGs (HUPE,
Croatia ) - "There are 10 members on the executive committee:
president, vice-president, TESOL representative, public relations,
accountant-treasurer, IATEFL representative, and four members
from different regions. There are 9 regional HUPE Branches (at
least 30 members each), and 4 SIGs: Young Learners, Teacher Development,
Secondary Education, Tertiary Education."
3 Problems (SPELTA, St. Petersburg
, Russia) - "Since all committee and council members work,
it is difficult to get all of us together on the same day. [...]
Membership fee is kept very low, since there are a lot of teachers
who cannot afford to pay more, on the other hand this sum is
very low in terms of overheads like paying the accountant, postage
expenses etc. "
4 Problems (TEA, Austria )
- "Two things which pose a threat to us are the growing reluctance
and demotivation of teachers due to governmental measures, and
in-service training opportunities offered by other institutions
/ the state system usually free of charge. "
5 Partners (RATE (national)
TETA (regional), Romania ) - "Our main sponsor and closest
partner has always been the British Council. We also keep in
contact with IATEFL UK , but nobody in the Ministry of Education
is really interested in us."
6 Partners (IATEFL, Ukraine
) - "There are no real links with IATEFL headquarters and
the IATEFL associates in other countries. I doubt if someone
from the outside of Ukraine really knows what is going on here,
in spite of great changes and a lot of activities that are being
7 Sponsors (IATEFL, Bulgaria
) - "Although over the past ten years the British Council
has been the main sponsor of conferences both financially and
technically, there has been sponsorship from Open Society, Ministry
of Education, USIS, Bulgarian and foreign publishing houses,
BBC Centre - Sofia, Xerox, etc."
8 Sponsors (LATE, Latvia ) - "The
British Council gives a yearly grant to cover administration
expenses. They have also donated books to our library. We work
well together though LATE as such doesn't really get any special
favours or treatment."
9 Sponsors (IATEFL, Poland
) - "One edition of our Newsletter was sponsored by PEARSON.
Up until 1998 publishers in Warsaw did not charge us for printing,
we only paid for editing. We hope to encourage other publishers
to sponsor future issues."
10 Regional centres (ATECR,
Czech Republic ) - "There are 18 regional
centres of the Association located in bigger cities. The centres
are very active, they organise one-day conferences, workshops,
seminars and short courses for local teachers as well as for
anybody interested ... . Regional centres have small libraries
used mainly by local teachers."
11 Events (MSSUA/MSATE, Moravia
, Silesia ) - "The foundation of MSATE has had a great impact
on the life of many teachers in Moravia . For the first time
we were able to organise things ourselves, which meant being
very flexible and independent. We could really feel the decentralisation.
Instead of having to wait for someone to invite one teacher for
a workshop to Brno or Prague, we suddenly were able to organise
a workshop where sometimes even 50 teachers attended a workshop
in Zlin, Olomouc, or other centres and the presenters did the
12 "Teaching across the Border" ( MSSUA/MSATE,
Moravia , Silesia ) - "We have been involved in a project
across the Border", where teachers from Austria taught at
schools in Brno and our teachers from several areas taught at
schools in Vienna . This was an excellent project, where we had
to produce a detailed lesson plan after arrival in Brno/Vienna
and the next day we actually taught the lesson. It was rather
stressful, but exciting and the lesson plans were published."
13 Conferences (LATEUM, Russian
Federation ) - "The regular LATEUM bi-annual International
Conferences are invariably treated as hallmarks of academic and
educational life in Russia and on a number of occasions have
attracted attention of such eminent authorities as David Crystal,
Michael Swan, Michael McCarthy, John Honey, Michael Lewis, Dennis
Cunningham, Ken Wilson, Bas Aarts and Simon Greenall who keep
coming to LATEUM events as Speakers and whose interest in the
Association has always been both consistent and personal."
14 Newsletter (IATEFL, Poland
) - "Another issue we're constantly tackling
is the lack of contributions to the newsletter and WWW site.
What can we do to encourage more people to write?"
II SUMMARY OF GROUPWORK AND DISCUSSIONS
A) HOME ISSUES
The following is a list of ideas which came up related to the
way each of us might run our association more efficiently in our
respective countries. We suggest that it might be used as a checklist
at future TEAs meetings, or a resource of ideas to dip into at
local Committee meetings.
1. Recruiting and retaining members
- offer reductions (reduced fees for institutions,
students and pensioners)
- offer fringe benefits (e.g. discounts
in shops, cinemas etc.)distribute leaflet listing benefits
to provide references / recommendations to active members
(e.g. for scholarships)
- reward long-time members (e.g. free
books, certificates, priority when applying for grants)
out subscription renewal reminders / invitations to events
- hold a prize-draw which only members
can enter (prizes: books from publishers, sponsored study trips
or attendance at conferences)
- have a website with up-to-date
information (e.g. about upcoming events, scholarship opportunities)
out intro letters to pedagogic institutions, teacher training
- have an IATEFL desk with leaflets, sample
Newsletters at conferences, exhibitions
- have local representatives
to disseminate information about your association
- if you
have an annual conference, adjust membership renewal dates
to the time of the conference
- reduce costs by including advertisements e.g. for
- reduce costs of postage: smaller size
an electronic version accessible through your website
photocopiable materials, activities
- go over Newsletters of
other associates to broaden your range of publications (e.g.
start a 'Meet a fellow teacher' column)
- ask your readers
for feedback: what kind of publications would they like to
- have a (native speaker) proofreader
workshops / seminars on how to write a Newsletter article
(in order to increase the number of contributors)
- get an ISSN
number: increases the respectability of your publication
a prize draw for contributors
- regional representatives can
help with finding contributors
- give priority to those who
have contributed to the Newsletter e.g. when they apply for
a travel grant
3. Conferences / events
- compile a 'How to organise a Conference' checklist
indicating deadlines and the name of the person responsible
for each task (IATEFL UK has a good one that could be used
as a starting point)
- find student helpers from teacher training
colleges / universities; reward their work with a free membership,
book prizes, free attendance when they are not on duty; this
way, the teachers of the future will find out about / get
involved in the work of the association
- advertise your conference
well in advance in e.g. IATEFL Issues, IATEFL PAL
higher fees for non-members
- widen the scope/ type of presentations
by e.g. including roundtable discussions (these could be
organised by SIGs, or could lead to setting up new SIGs)
a fee for book exhibition space, stands for private institutions
participants for feedback
- have a committee meeting shortly
after a Conference to discuss feedback
4. Committee management & democracy
- have job descriptions for committee members
- when a new committee
is formed, agree on basic rules of conduct (e.g. if someone
can't come to a meeting, they have to find out about decisions;
who is reponsible for setting the agenda and taking the minutes
- there should be some sort of reward for
the work of committee members e.g. travel opportunities; all
types of work should be rewarded in some way (e.g. it shouldn't
always be the branch secreratary or the president who represents
- it is important to talk about sensitive issues
(e.g. distribution of work and rewards) openly in order to
Further issues / questions:
- Several associations
do not have an office, or only have a 'guest office' e.g.
at a university department. It would be crucial to have a permanent
office, with fax / e-mail possibilities.
- It is increasingly
hard to find people for committee posts, as this work is
done on a voluntary basis. How can we make committee posts
- Some committee members might hold on to
their posts for too long. How can we ensure that there is a
healthy rotation and new people are encouraged to join?
sort of events should we organise? E.g. Annual conference,
regular local events, summer schools, cross-border workshops
- Should annual conferences have a theme?
Perhaps alternate open and theme-based conferences.
- How to
renumarate the work of Conference organisers? Should/can
they be paid?
- Have a mix of native-speaker plenaries
and local/ regional ones. This might help to strenghten the
attitude that native-speaker professionals are not necessarily
superior to their non-native colleagues. In addition, it might
help to promote regional collaboration.
- If there is a lot of
professional activity going on already in your country (e.g.
summer schools, Conferences, one-day workshops) perhaps your
association can help by co-ordinating and publicising these,
rather than organising further activities.
B/ REGIONAL ISSUES
1. Ratinonale for regional networking ( or ... Why bother
- Present ourselves as a force to reckon with and a
region that has a lot to offer to the profession.
the credibility and status of our profession through joint
- Work together to change perceptions and
- Education is about development.
- If we don't bother, noboby will.
- It's our professional obligation.
make our voices heard.
- Learn from each other.
- Being away from
routine can allow us pay better attention.
- Internet & globalisation.
is it a threat or an opportunity? Can we turn it into an
2. How can we make our national conferences
- Extend agreements with other TEAS for mutual
- Invite non-native plenary speakers from
- Organise discussion forums with regional
relevance and regional participation.
- Look after international
guests (e.g. a student or teacher is assinged to look after
- Organise a 'Meet Fellow Professionals from the
Region' session where non-local presenters each get 3 minutes
to introduce themselves and their presentations.
3. How can we ensure that national conference
dates don't overlap?
- Publish dates in ELTECS Info, IATEFL Voices
and PAL, and in local Newsletters.
4. What alternatives to national Conferences exist and
what is their potential for
- Regional Summer Shools
- IATEFL East
- Cross-border events
- Exchange visits
5 What would be the benefits of setting up an 'ELT in
Eastern Central Europe '
6 What might we gain by setting up regional SIGS?
III SPECIFIC OUTCOMES
- We looked at the proposed
agenda for the Associates Day of the Brighton IATEFL Conference,
and suggested some changes in order to give Associates more
of an opportunity to share their problems and ideas. Some of
these suggestions have been built into the programme.
- We all
agreed to sign up for IATEFL PAL and to use this electronic
network as our main means of communication. Martin Eayrs
- Two topics were suggested for a future
regional seminar / summer school: 'Managing TEAs', and 'Helping
teachers to present / publish their ideas'.
- We agreed to share
job descriptions for the various committee posts. A sample
of these will be available in a booklet to be distributed
at the Associates Day in Brighton.
- We agreed to share checklists
which might be relevant to each association, e.g. how to
organise a conference, tips for writing a newsletter article.
A sample of these will be available at the Associates Day in
- We agreed to prepare a database of members
willing to present at regional conferences, with background
info, contact addresses, and reference persons. Stanislava
Ivanova ([email protected])
has created a template: http://www.egroups.com/database/IATEFLbg?method=reportRows&tbl=1
- We agreed that the Associates Day in Brighton and the IATEFL
East Conference ( Plovdiv , May 2001) are good opportunites
to continue the dialogue started in Budapest .