International House Milan's highly anticipated annual conference is back and this year, for the 13th edition, it moves online! Join us to give a boost to your language teaching and start the academic year on the right foot.Read More
IH Wellbeing Season
7 Mar - 16 Apr 2018
We are very pleased to bring all our academic staff a series of four Live Online Workshops (LOWs) this Spring around the topic of Wellbeing.
The first in the series was delivered by Phil Longwell on March 7th, a functional skills English tutor and ESOL tutor, followed by Sarah Mercer on March 14th. Next up was Ushapa Fortescue on March 19th, and she will also be presenting on April 16th. The workshops will be live but recordings will be made available afterwards for IH members on this page.
To receive information about the sessions and links to the recordings post session please sign up below.
Alternatively please click here for instructions which include a link to the online webinar room and guidance on how to access it.
Please note the room won't be active until 30 minutes before the webinar but you can download any software you need to in preparation.
Bringing meditation into the classroom - Ushapa Fortescue (13.00 – 14.00 GMT, April 16th)
Like any good language learner knows, practice makes perfect. As teachers we explain to students that learning English does not happen overnight, they have to keep on using the new language and practising it. The same is true for meditation. It is like a muscle, the more we use it, the stronger it gets. A single silent sitting mediation before a class isn’t going to be a cure all for all the demands placed on you. However regular meditation can act as a strong foundation on which teachers to build healthier social-emotion skills. There are easy ways to bring some meditation techniques into the classroom and you don’t have to dedicate hours to your practice. In fact, meditation techniques can take just a few minutes and these small changes can have a big impact on your life and the life of your students.
With mounting evidence of the benefits of meditation for students, this session will explore techniques that we can practise as teachers and variations of these that are suitable for all of our learners.
Gone are the days of thinking meditation is sitting in uncomfortable positions, “clearing the mind” or thinking of mediation as a serious spiritual practise. This session will demonstrate that teachers can mediate while taking the register, while writing on the board or even while in a meeting.
Students don’t have to be quiet and sit still for mediation, there are numerous fun activities that will engage your leaners of all ages in meditation.
At the end of the session you will have practical activities that you can use in your classroom and see the effects of bringing meditation into the classroom.
After this session, there will be the space for further discussion on our online site.
All recordings will be made available to IH members here.
7th March: The mental health of language teachers - Phil Longwell
Is it ever right to disclose a diagnosed mental health condition up front? What kinds of factors do you think could be a cause of stress for English language teachers? We will look at these and other, related questions in this webinar. We will look at the Mental Health of English language teachers and initial findings of a new piece of research conducted last December will be shared for the first time. In this interactive session, (Phil) will welcome participants to share thoughts and answers to some of these questions and offer ways of improving the mental health of people in our profession. Since this session will be dealing with what might be a sensitive topic for some participants, attendees are invited to join it using a pseudonym if they prefer.
Bio: Phil is currently a functional skills English tutor and ESOL teacher for Norfolk Community Learning Services. He is also a self-employed private tutor and an IELTS invigilator at INTO UEA. He has worked in English Language teaching for over 10 years in places such as South Korea, China, Saudi Arabia and Vietnam. He is the newsletter editor of the IATEFL Learning Technologies Special Interest Group and does promotional work for Teacher Training Videos. He likes making films.
14th March: Professional wellbeing for effective teaching - Sarah Mercer
Teachers are the key to effective teaching. What they do matters enormously to their effectiveness as educators, but also who they are as a person matters possibly even more. Typically, professional development courses focus on what teachers can do for learners and the kinds of techniques and methods they can use, with an almost total neglect of the teacher as a person. However, as teachers, our attitudes, emotions, and motivations are defining for how we approach our professional roles. As Palmer (2007, p. 1) states, “we teach who we are”. In this webinar, we will focus on our professional wellbeing and steps we can take to ensure we are in the best possible frame of mind to teach to the best of our abilities. In particular, we will focus on combating stress and promoting positive workplace relationships, emotions, motivation, and physical wellbeing.
Bio: Sarah is Professor of Foreign Language Teaching at the University of Graz, Austria, where she is Head of ELT methodology and Deputy Head of the Centre for Teaching and Learning in Arts and Humanities. Her research interests include all aspects of the psychology surrounding the foreign language learning experience. She is the author, co-author and co-editor of several books in this area including, ‘Towards an Understanding of Language Learner Self-Concept’, ‘Psychology for Language Learning’, ‘Multiple Perspectives on the Self’ in SLA’, ‘New Directions in Language Learning Psychology’, ‘Positive Psychology in SLA’, ‘Exploring Psychology for Language Teachers’ (Winner of the IH Ben Warren Prize), and ‘Language Teacher Psychology’.
19th March: How mindfulness and meditation can make us better teachers - Ushapa Fortescue
As teachers, most of us would like to be less worried, more organised, have a more positive outlook and feel more confident. We would like to feel more in control of our emotions and responses and better able to deal with problems calmly. Ideally we would like to be more tolerant of students’ behaviour and better able to handle it.
Well amazingly, reports have shown that all these things are reported results from teachers who meditate.
With every increasing demand on teachers, both accountability of academic improvements and social and emotional demands, teachers are reporting higher levels of stress and burn out.
While teachers make every effort to be as prepared as possible for lessons, they often forget to check if they are prepared themselves mentally for teaching.
How can teachers promote calm, relaxed, engaging learning environments when they are feeling stressed and over whelmed?
The short answer is they can’t. Or they sacrifice their own well-being in the pursuit of this outcome.
“If we could give teachers the skills to better manage these social and emotional demands, the classroom climate would improve and so would student behaviours and learning."
Teachers are always giving and as the saying goes “you can’t pour from an empty jug”, so meditation is a way for teachers to “give” something to themselves - reducing stress and giving them more energy for their work and lives.
Through simple techniques that can be applied during your normal day, meditation practice can bring many benefits to teachers in and out of the classroom. As well as the ones mentioned above, mediation also has profound physical benefits such as lowered blood pressure, improved immune system and energy levels, better sleep, as well as a decrease in anxiety and feelings of depression.
In this sessions teachers can gain an understanding of what meditation is and how it could benefit them.
They will experience techniques that can be used immediately in the classroom and everyday life.
These will include
- Ways to “take a break”
- Ways of preparing ourselves for lessons: centring and breathing exercises
- Changing focus exercise: changing from what we do to how we do it
After this session, there will be space for further discussion on our online site.
Bio: I have provided teacher training in Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Croatia, Latvia, Russia, Ukraine, Egypt, Vietnam, Taiwan and China. This has included leading teacher training workshops, presentations, speaking at conferences and OTA courses. My area of expertise is young learners and teenagers and general English for adults. I enjoy training about how to engage learners and create suitable learning environments. How the mentality of learners and teachers can be as important as the content. I've written for Modern English Teacher on the subject of meditation and teaching, an area I am trained in and passionate about. I am a trained and experienced meditation facilitator and trainer and spend many months a year working in this area. I love to combine these two interests and help teachers in ways to incorporate meditation, relaxed and enjoyment into their classrooms.