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Skopje - November 2003...

REGIONAL TEACHERS' ASSOCIATION MEETING
Skopje , Republic of Macedonia , 21-23 November

 

  • Participating Teachers' Associations & other organisations
  • Background
  • Objectives, outputs, impact
  • Expectations
  • Feedback
  • Conclusions

 

PARTICIPATING TEACHERS ASSOCIATIONS & OTHER ORGANISATIONS

  • ELTAM ( Republic of Macedonia )
  • ELTA ( Albania )
  • BHETA ( Bosnia & Herzegovina )
  • TA for Republika Srpska ( Bosnia & Herzegovina )
  • BRAZ-TESOL ( Brazil )
  • BETA-IATEFL ( Bulgaria )
  • HUPE ( Croatia )
  • TESOL MACEDONIA-THRACE ( Greece )
  • TEUM (Greece)
  • KETA (Kosovo)
  • RATE ( Romania )
  • ELTA ( Serbia )
  • Montenegro Association of Applied Linguists
  • IATEFL-UKRAINE
  • IATEFL
  • US Office of EL Programs
  • BC (British Council) - ELT Managers from Albania , Bulgaria , Greece , Kosovo, Republic of Macedonia , Romania

 

Organising committee:

ELTAM committee: Gordiana Giorgova, Liljana Mitkovska, Fanija Smickovska, Elizaveta Iceva, Miroslava Pavlova-Anevska, Aneta Murovska-Bonevska , Anzela Nikolovska, Menka Nelkovska Kuzmanovska


BACKGROUND

This initiative connects with the global initiative of BC ELT group to encourage regional collaboration and networking between TAs and will focus on TAs in SE Europe , though representatives of TAs outside this region are welcome to participate. We also have the opportunity to build on, update and extend the work done at the TEA meetings previously sponsored by the BC in Budapest and Plovdiv in 2000 & 2001.

Several of the TAs in the region (in the Republic of Macedonia, Albania and Kosovo) are quite new and face the specific issues on which older TEAs such as those in Greece, Bulgaria, Croatia and Serbia can provide the benefit of their experience.

At the same time it is likely that most associations share such continuing concerns as:

  • how to finance activity in countries where education and training lack funds and sponsorship and donors are difficult to find
  • how to formalise relationships with Ministries of Education, generally raise the status of TAs and have a central role in the development of ELT in the country
  • how to develop membership and the services offered to members
  • how to manage TAs on a voluntary basis and encourage succession in the key posts


Some of these issues may find solutions or support on a regional basis. At the same time some regional collaboration already exists, including:

  • agreements between TAs to support the exchange of representatives at conferences
  • proposals for a regional newsletter
  • less formal contacts

It is important to keep up-to-date data about what links actually exist between TAs, to consider what other opportunities for regional links exist, their feasibility and relevance, and to make concrete plans for putting the most useful of these into practice.

In relation to all of this, and given the strong role the BC has played in the region as a partner of TAs, it is very valuable to have regional BC ELT managers as participants in the meeting.

 

OBJECTIVES, OUTPUTS, IMPACT

Objectives:

  • To cement productive relationships between teachers' associations in the region and plan future collaboration between TAs in the region
  • To share experience, current problems and good practice


Outputs:

  • An internal "issue basher" of advice on how to deal with key issues available as a word document and on TAs web sites
  • A plan of regional activity
  • Agreements between individual TAs on specific exchanges & collaborative activity
  • A project plan drafted for regional BC activity to support TAs including a bid for ELTeCS support to help finance an activity as part of this project


Impact:

  • 15 teachers associations involved in co-ordinated regional activity
  • Members of these associations informed of the outputs of the meeting
  • All members of these associations informed of outcomes of meeting
  • Materials produced here available on-line and publicised on ELTeCS and available to TAs worldwide as a contribution to the support literature available for those running TAs
  • Partnership agreements signed between participating TAs

 

EXPECTATIONS OF THE MEETING

These were participants' expectations of the meeting as expressed in the pre-meeting questionnaire:

  • To make new contacts, meet new people, promote our association and last but not least to learn and develop professionally.
  • To find out what associations are doing in the region
  • To help develop best practices in teacher associations
  • Our main aim is to learn from the experiences of other, longer established Associations. We want to develop links regionally so we can share ideas and possibly even activities in the future. We also want to learn how other organisations have established sustainable elected officers following their initial set up
  • I expect from this meeting to meet the representatives from the associations in the region and to learn more about the activities of other associations. How they are organized, what are their activities, how do they co-operate with other associations.
  • I am also interested in the possibility of organising a regional conference in one of the countries in the region a kind of a regional fair of the TAs.
  • Making valuable connections with colleagues from the region, going international, signing agreements about representatives who would regularly be present at our conferences and we would be present at theirs. Representatives would come as guests where they would only pay the fare
  • To get acquainted with the work /activities of other regional organizations
  • To work out attainable goals for co-operation for the forthcoming months and possibly years
  • To seek ways for raising the quality of English language teaching in the neighboring countries
  • To seek ways to complement the work of each regional association with good practice from others
  • To enable more members from the respective associations to attend events organized within the region
  • Establish contacts with similar associations and exchange experience



Start regional projects

  • Meet people with common interests
  • To broaden my views of the challenges and benefits of TA membership in other countries; what is the same, what is different and why.
  • To share info about BRAZ-TESOL and establish links of cooperation if possible.
  • To pilot a few questions for my MA critical study on TAs.
  • Exchange of views and ideas



Share experiences

  • Compare practices
  • Set up co-operation
  • Plan an international event in Serres/Drama
  • While being at the meeting in Skopje I would like to find out how IATEFL members from different countries work, how they involve new members to the Association, what the activities and events of their organizations are, whether their Association earn money of its own and how they do that ( I mean that Ukrainian Association is sponsored by BC and now we are trying to find different ways how to cover all expenses for events without asking for help)

FEEDBACK

Participants were asked to complete a feedback form at the end of the meeting by giving short answers to these questions. The following is a summary of the main areas of comment.


What worked for you during the meeting?

  • the small group discussions
  • overall organisation
  • pre-meeting preparation
  • informality & general spirit
  • sessions on mission statements and SWOT analysis of regional co-operation
  • e-regions
  • much food for thought
  • collaborative sessions
  • numbers were well-managed
  • like some of the "warmers"

 

What didn't work for you?

  • The fog!!!
  • Too task-led - useful points sometimes got overloaded or lost
  • Not enough free time & chance to get to know people better
  • Mapping activity was not too relevant, though that didn't make it uninteresting
  • Not enough time for discussion
  • Half a day more needed
  • Lay-out of room and heat
  • Web site search - shame it was last
  • More time to get to know each other
  • The fact that no idea was taken to a definite end!
  • TA involvement in various projects to produce teaching or teacher training materials
  • More joint projects
  • Sometimes the instructions were not clear and it took time before we got to do it

 

What suggestions do you have for future regional co-operation between TAs?

  • Focus on specific actions
  • Round-ups after each session
  • Need to work in individual TAs to discuss how to proceed - take things steadily and be clear about goals
  • Regularise meetings such as this
  • Set aside a certain amount of ELTeCS bids for TA support - make TA membership one of the criteria for successful bids
  • More meetings on specific issues
  • Regular contact through email
  • Use the TA forum or searchEnglish for keeping up the dialogue
  • Project focused events

 

Any other comments?

  • ELTAM contribution was important - perhaps a strong facilitator would help to make the right links abd bring out important themes
  • Nice venue, adorable people, excellent organisation
  • Shame about the fog
  • You were all great!
  • Congratulations!


CONCLUSIONS

It's clear that the meeting met a need among participants for networking and the sharing of experience and ideas. In particular, the atmosphere of the meeting was vibrant and enthusiastic and the level of engagement of all participants was very impressive. But it is also clear that issues were raised that need follow-up, if the meeting is not to be just a one-off get-together.

From the feedback the following points seem significant:

  • The fact that no idea was taken to a definite end!
  • The need to be clear about goals
  • The need to regularise meetings such as this
  • The need for more meetings on specific issues
  • The need to focus on specific actions

 

In order to deal with these points, we can:

  • Be active in maintaining contact & sharing ideas and information through:

    - Making the TA agreements signed at the meeting active
    - email contact
    - using the SearchEnglish discussion group
    -
    developing an international TA profile in TA newstletters & conferences
    - maintaining links on TA web sites

  • Work together to develop a project approach focusing on specific action for specific issues to include:

    - Follow-up meeting(s) to build on the work of this meeting and to clarify goals
    - Deal with some of the training needs for the effective running and development
      of TAs
    - Feasible and sustainable ways of monitoring and evaluating the progress,
      outcomes and impact of this project
    - Sustainable funding for future international networking and co-operation

  • Use the information we have produced at the meeting and is collated in the document OUTCOMES to assist you in your thinking and action concerning the issues discussed at the meeting


ACTION: The BC ELT managers who attended the meeting have already drafted a project proposal for ELTeCS funding for the next deadline of 1 st March 2004 to begin such a project. This draft will be circulated in the new year among participants of the meeting for comment and agreement.


This report prepared by

Tim Phillips, ELT Projects Manager - The British Council
Bulevar Goce Delcev, PO Box 562, 1000 Skopje, Republic of Macedonia
Tel: ++389 2 135 035 | Fax: ++389 2 135 036
tim.phillips@britishcouncil.org.mk | www.britishcouncil.org/macedonia


IATEFL - Darwin College, University of Kent, Canterbury, Kent CT2 70NY, UK

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