NATE Conference – energising ideas from the UK

IMG_5923The beautiful city of Newcastle played host to delegates for the National Association for the Teaching of English (UK) annual conference titled ‘Brave New World’ on June 26 and 27.

I was fortunate enough to attend and delivered a presentation on the work we are doing at Moss Vale High School as documented in our Bamir Language Gallery. It is always exhilarating to attend a conference for English teachers organised by English teachers and share ideas and experiences with English teachers.

IMG_5933Some of my personal highlights included:

  • Encouraging Personal Response: the Literature classroom through a cognitive lens by Jessica Mason, Lecturer in Linguistics at De Montfort University and Marcello Giovanelli, Lecturer in English Education at the University of Nottingham. Teachers were invited to consider their practice in ‘pre-figuring’ context when working with novels in the classroom, as cognition research was explored to allow us to better understand the sociology of reading and our impact on student reception. Jessica and Marcello also provided a copy of their research as a published article and reading list.
  • Geoff Barton, Head Teacher of King Edward VI School at Bury St Edmunds, was an engaging speaker who challenged us to consider how we might, as English teachers, maintain our enthusiasm for aesthetic learning and encouraging a love of literature within a challenging environment of standardised testing and grading.
  • Curious Incident: from rehearsal room to English classroom by Melanie Whitehead from National Theatre Learning had us up and actively learning about our responses to characters and scripting from the hugely successful stage play The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time. These ideas may well become an article for mETAphor …
  • Simon Stephens, playwright behind the above mentioned play – an intriguing Q & A session with journalist Dave Whetstone
  • National Writing Project co-ordinated by Simon Wrigley and Jeni Smith delivered workshops and seminars across the conference, including Simon’s captivating and amusing keynote, to share the value of teachers as writers. I participated in several writing activities and discussions on the application of these ideas in our classrooms.

And something quite enjoyable was the Exhibitor Bingo Board which encouraged delegates to visit each stall to receive a stamp. The grand prize was a kindle e-reader. This innovation eliminated the need for individual stalls to prepare separate prizes as an inducement to listen to a sales pitch, although many canny operators made you listen to a complete spiel before your game card was stamped.



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