We on the board of The Swedish Language Teachers' Association (Språklärarnas riksförbund, in Swedish) are in the midst of planning next year's major language conference, on April 15-16. We will be cruising both literally and figuratively (given that it will be on a boat). Major languages will of course be represented and arrangements with seminar speakers of each of these are right now being settled.
The point with this kind of conference is that language teachers may join the conference and receive inspiration in various ways. Easy as that.
In English there will be four speakers amongst whom I will be one (the others being Maria Allström, Angelica Granqvist and Andreas Grundtvig; a more detailed introduction will be given later). The title of my own speech will be something like "At the heart of teaching, 3.0". An alternative title might be "A teacher's manifesto". Both titles sound awfully pretentious, of course, but why not take a full step when one can? We'll see where we end up with the exact title, though.
To my mind, at the heart of being a teacher lies that one should have a core set of values, approaches and methods that are non-negotiable. Of course, if one wants to learn stuff, one should become a teacher, because that is how it works, and we never stop evolving. Also, it is not for sure that all teachers share common views of what it means to take charge in a classroom, being a conductor of the full orchestra, a guide to new worlds. Still, not everything is blurry. As a teacher, one should feel proud of what one is doing, the impact we are having. If that quality is lacking, I believe something serious is lacking underneath.
Personally, I am reading David Didaus "What if everything you knew about education was wrong?" right now. And the other day I listened to a podcast where he was being interviewed about his book and the ideas he advances there. Indeed, being a teacher implies being involved in a battle of ideology, and each one of one must decide on what we believe in.
As an example, currently quite many teachers are struggling with discerning the difference between being an authority and being a dictator - or is it just the words that confuse (in Swedish, auktoritet-auktoritär)? Whatever, this is just one example, and I sense it is not merely about the words; it is about the contents as well.
There are many opinions about and claims on what we as teachers should do and not do. Yet we are the ones standing in front of the class having to deal with reality and being accountable for the results on top of that. Being a teacher is not for weaklings, and we need one another on that journey. We need to challenge and support one another as much as we can.
Here is a link to the coming conference. If you are a language teacher, I'd hope you would come: