From the Heart – the first Online Teacher Training Day at IH Bielsko

November 28th marked the first ever Online Teacher Training Day organised by International House Integra Bielsko, Poland. The school has held numerous face-to-face training days and workshops, but this event was the first online event organised by the school in its long history. 

The line-up of speakers was mpressive for a first-time online conference. They had the honour of hosting Sandy Millin as their first plenary speaker of the day. In her energetic presentation, Sandy told us more about improving communication between teachers and managers – an increasingly important topic as we now all rely on written communication more and more in our online lives. After the plenary session, participants could choose between two rooms which simultaneously ran different sessions. The first time slot was shared between Zuzanna Szatanik, ADoS at IH Bielsko, who told us more about ‘The Vulnerable Teacher’ and Elzbieta Chudoba, DoS at IH Bielsko, who analysed some of the most common teaching mistakes and ways of fixing them.

The two sessions were then followed by Lisa Phillips' ‘Senses Working Overtime, an illuminating collection of activities focused on helping students become more engaged in the classroom thanks to their senses. At the same time, Richard Lacy, an ex-IH Torun Teacher, was in Room Two speaking about how he became ‘Mr Lazy’. In this session, he talked about giving students more autonomy in areas such as course design and lesson structure.

Later in the day, Doris Nneka Egwu spoke about her unique journey to becoming an English teacher and Alex Tieanu-Koppandi talked about involving YLs during online classes. In the early afternoon, Chris Walker ,Teacher Training Coordinator at IH Bielsko, discussed the lessons he learned through writing feedback with his exam preparation students, which many of the participants found very enlightening. At the same time in Room Two, Prem Sourek shared his reflections and experience in the area of ‘Hybrid Learning’ – a topic which many of us can relate to.

The final two sessions before the closing plenary were Glenn Standish’s ‘Freer Speaking Activities’ and Aleksandra Zaparucha’s ‘Exciting Experiments’. In his session, Glenn showed us the great possibilities Zoom and flashcards can offer in helping our students improve their speaking skills, while Aleksandra demonstrated a live experiment and related it to the CLIL wheel which was another focus of her presentation.

The day culminated in a very reflective and personal session by Chris Bain who spoke about the influence Covid-19 has had on his teaching beliefs. It was a truly great session which helped us all see the silver lining of the turmoil 2020 has brought us.

After the conference, both the presenters and participants could take part in a very professionally organized Post Conference Quiz kindly run by Ricky Bland from English Wizards, Poland. Thank you, Ricky!

IH Bielsko would like to thank the presenters and audience who made this event truly special. They also commented about the presenters saying 'Their passion and enthusiasm for teaching English were almost tangible and we were extremely pleased to receive lots of positive feedback afterwards. In the words of one of our participants the Training Day ‘ targeted not just our minds but also our hearts. It nourished our perception of what a teacher should be and of what a teacher could do to make a difference.’

The videos of the sessions are now available on the school’s YouTube channel