Reflection on BELTA Day 2022

13/05/2022 - 12:06

Rianne Ariëns and her colleague came all the way from The Netherlands to Brussels for BELTA Day 2022. In her blog post Rianne reflects on the day.

The things you forget

May 04, 2022

"If teaching is going to be your career, then there is one thing you must accept: you must become a life long learner and not just a life long teacher"
(Ron Morrain BELTA Day 2022)

Powerful words taken from a day filled with powerful ideas. This year's edition of BELTA Day was, as always, a rousing succes and, as always, got me thinking about a hundred different things at once.

It was so amazing to be back in Brussels and seeing people I hadn't seen for over two years. Hugging my friends, catching up with familiar faces and finally getting the opportunity to once again share experiences with other teachers face to face. Normally, this is the point where I summarize all the workshops I've seen and give a global perspective on the day. But this time around I'd like to do something else. I'd like to, following the suggesting of one Ron Morrain, take a moment and reflect on how today impacted my own professional development.

First of all every conference you ever go to has the opportunity to do two things: teach you something completely new, of remind you of something you sort of know already but have 'forgotten' or have let slide. This conference proved no different as I was reminded of a host of things I, deep down am very aware of, but in my day to day professional life have seem to let slip.

In her plenary talk Silvana Richardson talked about how, when it comes to professional development, teachers should collaborate. Effective professional development should always be steered by evidence, i.e. problems students are experiencing, should be focussed on innovation and has to be adequately evaluated. This is a process that takes time. Too often teachers find new things to implement and do so without thinking it through (mea culpa!), to then deem it ineffective after it doesn't immediately work out the way they thought it would. Furthermore, teachers often implement these things on their own, further limiting the beneficial effects it might have on students. Now this information was not new to me. I am well aware of how ineffective teacher practises can be when not properly thought out and Silvana's 6 Ds approach gave me and my colleague an amazing new perspective on how to tackle these problems within my own school. However, there was one thing Silvana said that really hit home. In her talk she explained that our professional development should alway be aimed towards our students. Professional development is done to meet the learner's needs not our own teaching needs. And this reminder, this shift in perspective, was something that truly resonated with me as it is easy for teachers to lose sight of the actual aim of why we do what we do. We don't only go to conferences and workshops and lectures just because we like it so much. Or because it necessarily makes us more qualified teachers. We do all these things to better support our students. To support their needs and guide them in their learning process.

So what then do I take away from this day? What were my goals and were they met at the end? Well my goal was to be inspired. To rediscover, after two years of slowly losing it, at least the spark of my love for teaching. And I did: I was reminded of the fact that Shakespeare can be fun to teach, for both you and your students, if you use the right tools and bring the right attitude. I was reminded of the fact that I, as a teacher, have all the tools I need to let every single one of my students shine. I relearned that whenever I do anything in my classroom I should do so with a clear purpose in mind and then work back from that purpose to find the right way to reach it. I was once again reminded that I am not alone in my struggles, that there are teachers all over that struggle like I do. But instead of giving up, they continute to try and therefore in the end they thrive. And I wanna be just like them.

So yes, my goal was reached. My spark is once again reignited. Now it is up to me to keep feeding the flame.

This blog post first appeared on Rianne's Blog "A Conflicted Teacher".

Bio Rianne

Rianne Ariëns is a 29 year old English and history teacher based in the Netherlands. She is a passionate believer in professional development and actively looks for ways to keep on learning. She first got involved with BELTA during her teacher training and has been a huge supporter ever since.