MA in Norwich: Day 5 of 14

Friday was about performance management. You’d think that coming from a context with such a robust and well-structured system of appraisals as the British Council’s, one would know it all? Ha.

Just one interesting fact I’ve learned here: for an organisation to rely solely on observations for appraisal, one teacher would have to be observed 60 times by 1 person (or 15 by 4). Luckily, we’ve also got other tools like student feedback (also awfully unreliable), exam results (hmm), interviews (that’s more like it, but…).

Speaking about ‘but’s: did you know that if you are sandwiching feedback (as in “It was a great lesson, but…”), you can replace ‘but’ with ‘and’, not to put the observee on the defensive? My notes are full of tips like this, and I can’t wait till Sunday when I’ll have more time to systematise them.



MA in Norwich: Day 4 of 14

Today the talk about motivation logically moved into the management of groups and teams and then conflict resolution. From putting types of group on the cline of cohesion to role-playing naughty teachers, I enjoyed every ELT-like activity applied to management contexts. Come to think of it – why ELT? Good teaching techniques apparently can be universal and result in deep learning. At least that’s how I’m feeling at the moment: my declarative knowledge is slowly beginning to sink in.


Here’s another excellent whiteboard, complete with Master Yoda. And yes, now I know about the downsides of Kolb’s experiential cycle and how to deal with them!

MA in Norwich: Day 3 of 14


Today was the day of events: the morning input (motivation theories, case studies and very useful discussions of the span of control) was followed by a talk by an external speaker (Philip Kerr) who spoke about using learners’ own language in the classroom. For a second there I felt I was at an IATEFL conference! It was a great talk, too, with a sound justification of the approach and a selection of low-prep activities that can be used even when the teacher does not share the same language with the learners. For example, if you give each student tokens to use each time they speak their own language, you can achieve greater differentiation (and help the learners feel more responsible for their use of L1).  A nice change from management theories! And if this was not enough, how about a students’ party at a very friendly and welcoming cathedral?


It was a very full day.

MA in Norwich: Day 2 of 14

Day 2 was full of remembering what I already knew and reconciling it with what I still had to learn.  I felt very much like this rabbit near the Norwich cathedral!


We discussed what it means to be a manager: managerial responsibilities and qualities, the dichotomy – if it exists – between leadership and management, leadership styles and roles and which of them we gravitate towards (and which we try to avoid). There were funny stories, picture metaphors, gallery walks and other communicative tasks – all this against the background of rather nifty whiteboards:


To crown it all, we applied Lewin’s force field analysis to our own contexts! Good times indeed.

MA in Norwich: Day 1 of 14

Met with 11 other participants (very different contexts and levels of experience!) and 2 tutors, said hello to nice people I’d met before – and bought myself a new eco coffee cup.


Now, in the true spirit of paragraph blogging, I’ll try to put the learning of the whole day into one para. So: it was mostly about organisational structures and cultures, how we see our mission and what remains hidden, how we work together and how we think, what we trust and what we worry about. Did you know, for example, that the number of people you can line manage depends on the similarity of their work and on how automated their work is? Or what educational culture you belong to and how it is reflected in role profiles and recruitment policies? Or how the viable systems theory works? (I’m still digesting this one.)

Looking forward to day 2.

MA in Norwich: Day 0 of 14

Hi readers, I’m interrupting the flow of curated posts for a new series: my impressions about studies in Norwich. I’m on a short face-to-face course as part of NILE’s Master’s programme I’ve been doing since September, and I thought it might be interesting for you too.


After a tour of the UEA campus I’m back in my room. What a beautiful, beautiful place! There are several ‘wildlife trails’ where you can walk through tall grass along a water canal overgrown with algae.


There are ducks and swans; you might get lucky and catch a glimpse of a cormorant or an otter. I sat on a bench, watched a fierce little kingfisher hunting and thought: this is where Clifford Simak could have written his Goblin Reservation.

“There’d be rowdy midnight drinking bouts at the Pig and Whistle and long, slow walks along the shaded malls and canoeing on the lake. There’d be discussion and argument and the telling of old tales, and the leisurely academic routine that gave one time to live.”


Mind you, I expect a lot less drinking and leisure! Monday is the start of the course.