Conference Review: FECEI 2023

The prize we won at the event. It's a wooden cuboid with the top half painted white. It says FECEI TOP IX EDICIÓN FECEI Y MACMILLAN EDUCATION PREMIO POR:GESTIÓN DE PERSONAS Y FORMACIÓN. At the bottom, unpainted, it says: BRAYS ENGLISH DESARROLLAR JUNTOS

After a beautiful journey along winding roads, with snow on the ground and the late afternoon sunlight filtering through the fir trees, we arrived in Segovia around 6pm on Friday evening. Just enough time to relax before getting ready to attend the FECEI Premios Top IX Edición. The Premios, and Gala that follows, are a wonderful way of recognising, celebrating and sharing the good practice that goes on in our sector. I watched the videos of the other finalists and found myself inspired by a project blending sustainability and environmental education with language teaching (Renewable English); projects that supported Ukrainian refugees as part of FECEI’s Generosidad Lingüística initiative; and a project teaching English to those with disabilities; among others. Obviously, it was an honour to also collect a prize on behalf of BRAYS English, for our project ‘Developing Together‘ which was born out of a desire to refocus on quality classroom practice and support our teachers in their professional development, when we returned from distance and hybrid teaching. We have worked hard to give our teachers an ongoing and sustained programme to support their professional learning, so it was wonderful to have this recognised. The kind and generous words of Louise Connolly, who presented us with the award on behalf of Macmillan Education, will stay with me for a long time.

Saturday morning saw a large number of ELT professionals gathered for two opening plenaries about Education Technology and Inteligencia Artificial. The first, given by Lindsay Clanfield, examined the myths and stories we tell ourselves, reminding us to be sceptical of the next big thing that will transform education, but encouraging us to see technological tools as useful. The second, given by Dra. Cristina Aranda, explored the growth in AI and how we might see this have an impact on our sector over the coming years.

My morning then continued, after a welcome coffee break, with talks about Speaking Skills (Phillip Brownsword) and Listening Skills (Ethan Mansur). In both cases, I made notes of activities that I could try in class immediately; indeed, my C1 listening lesson yesterday was tweaked as a result of Ethan’s talk. Both talks also gave delegates an opportunity to speak among themselves and consider approaches together.

After lunch, it was time for my presentation on ‘Planning Smarter not Harder’. I was grateful for my audience’s enthusiasm for the topic and participation in the discussion tasks. While my talk suggested an overall approach that will take time to implement, I hope that my key questions will prove helpful immediately and gently guide attendees towards a backwards planning approach over time. I was also grateful for the questions I was asked at the end! The handout from the talk is available from the BRAYS English LinkedIn and my key message can be seen in the following image:

I'm stood at the right of the image (presenting). Behind me to the left of the image is the slide saying: Be clear and precise about what you want them to learn, rather than what you want them to do'. There's also an image of a turtle on the slide.
‘Planning Smarter not Harder’

The day was rounded off with a thought-provoking roundtable with representatives from the examining bodies who discussed a range of topics including the purpose of examination, different forms of assessment, why students engage in assessment, and the future of assessment (and the involvement of AI).

I came back to Madrid inspired and energised from the experience and wondering what our new reality will be like.

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