Another successful and well attended conference – congratulations to all presenters and teachers who make this annual event such an energising happening. Even though late November is a busy time for all schools and teachers, in the lead up to the long summer break – we continue to share ideas, experiences and support for teachers from across the state and all school systems.
On Friday, I delivered a presentation based on my Premier’s English Teachers Association English Scholarship study tour of the United Kingdom in June this year. Titled The Writing Teacher and Teacher of Writing, I outlined the rationale and literature review underpinning my research, and shared my fieldwork experiences including interviews, writing workshops and site visits. It was particularly exciting to summarise a range of strategies and future directions to assist teachers support student writing through their own engagement with writing.
Despite the very warm weather, people remained generous and thoughtful. It is inspiring to be part of incidental conversations, on the food queue, during and between sessions: teachers discussing classroom practice and sharing ideas. Each year, the online conversations on twitter and facebook demonstrate how teachers use technology to praise, question and support English teachers.
After 3 pm, I joined several delegates in celebrating the third birthday of Reading Australia at the White House on campus at the University of NSW. Supported by the Copyright Agency Cultural Fund, the aim of Reading Australia is to share and promote Australian literature for students of all ages by commissioning high quality teaching resources. Beginning with a list of 200 books, the success of Reading Australia continues to demonstrate the need for Australians to understand their own culture and language use through the reading and sharing of Australian literature.
Despite the heat pervading the black painted walls of the upstairs function space, the delightfully delicious afternoon tea and stimulating conversations between writers, publishers, librarians, teachers and supporters continued for more than two hours.
Saturday at conference is the day of dressing up and celebrating thematically – always supported by the popular photo-booth and Leo’s excellent catering team.
Presenting at the end of the final day – I call it the ‘graveyard shift’ ( a nod to my previous nursing career) – can be a challenge. My Writing for Life – Public and Private Worlds: engaging & extending beyond literacy practices included practical strategies and activities to support writing as ‘imaginative recreation’ through journalling, zines, blogging, narratives and characters. Yet the participants impressively questioned, clarified and shared ideas about how creative writing can be effectively incorporated within the English Studies course in both the Preliminary and HSC years.
Now, it’s time to incorporate new ideas and understandings into our lessons and class rooms.