Tony Gurr


In Classroom Teaching, Conferences, Teacher Training on 27/09/2011 at 12:38 pm

Did you know that:

  • 65% of conference attendees believe they learn nothing from plenary sessions…
  • 55% of conference attendees prefer the coffee breaks to the break-out sessions they attend…
  • 45% of conference attendees “sneak” off to do a bit of sight-seeing…or shopping…(!) time!


Did you also know that 33% of statistics are made up on the spot!


OK, OK – my conference stats may lack a bit of reliability…but it’s true – we educators do not do our best LEARNing at conferences!


I have done a great deal of interviewing in my time (karma…for previous lives poorly lived, no doubt) – but one interviewee still stands out for me…nearly 12 years after the fact.

I had probably interviewed around 15 candidates on the day I met him – and I was bored to death by people telling me what a great team-player they were…how flexible they could be in difficult situations…and, how they were really “interested” in all our “strategic initiatives” (that weren’t even on the website)!

He popped in (with no tie, I must add – the “balls” on the guy) and I decided to ask him (first question – right in):

“Tell me why you are a great teacher…”!

His response:

Not sure I am that great…I’m good…but I’m good because I learn faster than most, I work harder at reflecting than most and I like doing “it” with other teachers…

OK – I had to hold back a “giggle” with that last comment (but “humour” is what we look for, too). I gave him the job!


TEACHERS learn best by reflecting:

And, they do do “it” best with OTHER TEACHERS!


A teacher’s level of “reflective savvy” is essentially the product of “who they are“; their level of critical literacy, their level of learnacy and their level of emotional literacy.

This savvy is critical for the level of Educational Literacy that a teacher has – the GOOD newsit is “LEARNable”! And, LEARNable by just doing “it”.

OK – I really have to stop that

I have to admit…developing your reflective savvy does take time (maybe, it never really stops).

It’s about asking the “right” questions…again and again. Taking the time to “step back” and “weigh up” what’s really happening around you…within you…as a LEARNing professional.

It’s about working towards greater clarity and understanding – by being “honest“. BUT, most importantly – it’s about “taking ACTION” – and ACTION that leads to “improvements” in what you KNOW, what you DO and WHO YOU ARE as an educator.


Many educators do this by asking questions about TEACHing:

These are “great” questions – but are they enough?


We all know that there is a huge difference between asking questions about TEACHing and asking others about LEARNing:


In fact, we can take the same 3 questions and apply them to LEARNing:


If you want…we can even push that boat out a little further…just a little, mind:


WHAT the HELL….in for a pound, in for a penny; Let’s take those THREE little questions and think about:

  • ASSESSMENT (and, TESTING – of course)
  • …the CONFERENCE BUDGET (and how we can spend that money so much more wisely)!


Hey, here’s a whacky idea…  – …speak to your HoD and ask her to cancel the “boring administration meeting” she had planned for you all this week! Get a cup o’ tea (and a biscuit) with your friends…take the time to “sit” and “chat”…and REFLECT!


GO ON…do “it” with another teacher today…you know you’ll have fun!

  1. Love the article, not so sure about the typography 😉

    • Robin – Thx for that – yes, you are probably right. Been thinking about a blog make-over but have not found the time (too busy blogging) – maybe I should 🙂 Take care. T..

  2. OK – have to come “clean”. The “guy” I told you about (in the interview) – did NOT, in fact, accept the job! Bugger…..actually, he took a job in Saudi…(see, there is “karma”…even in this life…and I “hate” TESOL Arabia for providing too many “options” – have a great one, this year guys). We are still in touch (and he may actually “read” the bog from time to time – or so he tells me)! I hope he does 🙂

    He probably won’t mind me telling you…he “hated” it there! Loads of “dosh” – so to speak – but not a lot of LEARNing…I keep telling him to come to “Canım Türkiyem”. I hope he does one day 🙂


  3. Reblogged this on allthingslearning and commented:

    I’m re-posting this one for all my lovely, lovely “trainers-in-training” in Karabük and Safranbolu – what a hard-working bunch of “professional LEARNers” (and anyone else who might have missed it) 😉 ENJOY!

  4. Loved the post:) I know at least one person who would fit in each statistic:) What I always say is I can’t get anything from 90% of the workshops, not the plenaries. I respect the attempt though. Anyone out there who agrees with me?

    • Handan,

      Thanks from dropping in. Yes, and sadly, I would agree. I think half of the problem is that many “workshop presenters” still operate with the TEACHing paradigm in mind when they plan their sessions – many of them simply forget that their “job” is really about creating the context for a shared LEARNing experience for everybody that comes along to a session. As such, the focus is still very much on the “content” to be “delivered”…and then there is the actual delivery itself. I love to see the stuff that people are doing (esp. if they are doing some MA or higher level studies)…but we have to remember that most people do not come to a “workshop” to hear a semi-academic presentation (this seems to be what many presenter have been LEARNed – by their tutors, I guess)…In workshops, people want to “work” (they want to be asked questions…and answer them with others)…they want to “shop” (with ideas and reflections…with others) 😉


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