TAW (Small)


This is a post describing the return of the repressed. Last year myself and Nicola Prentis of Simple English blog put forward a proposal to IATEFL for a new SIG – Teachers as Workers Special Interest Group.

This came after a Twitter survey that showed the idea was popular with working teachers.

TAW_SIG

But the IATEFL leadership, in the form of the SIG co-ordinators and the IATEFL trustees, refused to support such a SIG.

Conversation closed.


Reasons for refusal

The reasons given were:

1) An IATEFL SIG would not be a suitable vehicle for furthering the aims expressed in the proposal.

Unfortunately, IATEFL has not chosen to tell us what would be an suitable vehicle for improving the working conditions of ELT/ ESL teachers.

And the working conditions of teachers are getting worse. After all, this is the 21st century, and precarious working is all around us. Open a newspaper or turn on the tv: zero hours contracts, mini jobs, in-work poverty.

A lot of us are fully-paid up members of The Precariat, a term first coined in a book by Guy Standing in 2011 to describe a new class that has little social protection, low or unsecured wages and no trade union representation. This precarious work  leads to precarious life, with individuals unable to form stable occupational identities.

havephd

And when it comes to dealing with this – if not us, who?

 

2) The proposed Teachers as Workers SIG does not fall within the professional development domain.

This is a slightly stronger argument, but the question is who decides what the “professional development domain” is: the organisation or its members? This is a category so vague and broad that virtually anything related to education could go into it e.g. Whiteboard SIG: aiming to improve whiteboard standards and disseminate examples of good practice (formerly Chalkboard SIG).

Err, that’s a joke.

But working conditions doesn’t fall into this super-category.

Looking at other SIGs it’s also hard to see how they relate to professional development i.e. Literature, Media and Cultural Studies SIG, Global Issues SIG.

The Global issues SIG aims to ‘stimulate awareness and understanding of global issues to exchange ideas on integrating peace education, human rights education, development education, and environmental education’. These are noble aims – but what do they have to do with professional development?

Apologies to those in Global Issues SIG–but the criteria for whose SIG idea becomes a SIG reality is far from transparent.


Is it because a Teachers as Workers SIG would go against publishers’ and employers’ interests?

elephant

(Listen to the muffled footfall of the elephant in the room)

3) The name and the remit of the proposed SIG
might raise expectations that could not be met i.e. members would expect the SIG to intervene in local disputes.

This is a straw man argument – a false representation of our position. Naturally, a SIG could not get involved in local labour disputes as it wouldn’t have the expertise, time or jurisdiction. But as an umbrella organisation it could provide support and resources for local groups working to improve working conditions in their own contexts.

As we have proven with the Berlin GAS group, there are local groups concerned about working conditions, and working together can help to break down the isolation and insecurity felt by many. But it’s not easy to organise and run a group where members are overworked and with precious little time. 

And this is the problem: how to break the vicious circle of LESS TIME – INCREASING WORKLOAD – LESS COMMITMENT. It’s not just our group who face this problem, many ELTAs struggle to attract people to fill key roles.


Surprisingly, at IATEFL conferences speakers often ask the same question year after year: ‘Why don’t more teachers do research?’ This year was no different, with the issue coming up in Patsy Lightbown’s talk.

None of these speakers seem to realise that it’s a time issue in a world of increasing precarity.

I could do action research tomorrow – if I stopped paying rent.


Conclusion

Joseph Joubet once said “The aim of argument, or of discussion, should not be victory, but progress.

Perhaps I’m the only one who thinks that pushing for the rights of ELT teachers in an era of precarity is a good idea.

Perhaps the incoming President of IATEFL Marjorie Rosenberg will sweep a new broom through the ELT Politburo.

Perhaps someone from IATEFL can answer my arguments.


Or perhaps we can go it alone?

If 200+ teachers sign up for the Teachers As Workers SIG then we’ll certainly think about it!

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TAW badge


And if you want to support us–put a TaWSIG clickable badge on your blog or website! Click on link and copy/ paste into your html editor: http://www.codeshare.io/SoCYI

 


So come out of the cupboard, you boys and girls.

What do YOU think?

 

paul

42 thoughts on “IATEFL calling!

  1. One can certainly agree with a SIG along these lines and perhaps framed a bit broader. The Australian Association for Research in Education has a SIG Teachers’ Work and Lives http://www.aare.edu.au/pages/teachers-work-lives.html

    This encompasses looking in depth at ‘how teachers’ work and lives are organised and negotiated’,, conditions of employment as well as broader dimensions of career development, retention in the profession, extended biographies of teachers and much more. The AERA in the U.S. has a SIG #62 Lives of Teachers that has a somewhat similar remit.
    The IATEFL leadership fears a SIG that sounds like IWW IU 620: http://www.iww.org/bg/taxonomy/term/34 A few years ago some of us tried to organize an EFL teachers group inside the IU 620 of IWW, but it dissipated. It was called the EWIU International. Below something from its discontinued website.
    Maybe something along those lines could be revived I would like to see a SIG in IATEFL called Lives of Teachers or like in Australia Teachers’ Work and Lives. But we know the conservatism of the leadership of this ‘charity’ when it comes to advocacy or issues of political economy of TEFL.

    Incidentally, all this was discussed SPECIFICALLY on the GISIG listserv several years ago. GISIG has raised this issue in its own discussions, but of course Business English is trump inside the profession at this point, and GISIG is the smallest of the SIGs, even as the world burns.

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  2. Hi Bill,

    Thanks for commenting – I had no idea there was this SIG in Australia – that’s really interesting. I’m definitely into the ‘Lives of Teachers’ angle and using a broader perspective to reach more people (narrative enquiry etc.), and have another project I’m working on in this vein.

    I knew about the IWW, and I’m interested in how you tried to organise a group before. Have you also heard of the Angry Workers Brigade in the UK? https://libcom.org/blog/angry-language-brigade

    Part of the problem is that we’re forever inventing the wheel; there’s no kind of history of attempts to organise – so we inevitably make similar mistakes. Before coming up with the idea of a SIG I didn’t know that Sara Hannam had done some research on working conditions for IATEFL but that it just got ‘shelved’ I think.

    Sara and Graham Hall wrote a piece called “To Speak or Not to Speak – That is the
    Question!” saying that by staying silent IATEFL is endorsing the status quo: http://goo.gl/Hof7Q7 This was influential in my thinking about TaWSIG.

    I also think that organising in ELT is a long, often thankless road – that’s why organising in tiny groups is perhaps not sustainable. If we could scale up a grassroots organisation (like Podemos ‘circles’ for example) that might be v. exciting!

  3. I’m going to write a letter to IATEFL, and definitely not renew my membership until I hear their response. Teachers must be supported and make a fair wage -I’d expect IATEFL not to shy away from providing a platform for teachers to network and support each other when it comes to workers’ right. Great post!

  4. ^ I won’t not renew as I’m not a member but I was planning on joining. I’ll hold off until there’s some movement on this and do whatever little I can do influence that. I’m with Laura 100% and I applaud your efforts on this, Paul. Please do keep it up and have faith that your actions will make an important difference and you’ll inspire support if you don’t give up. It’s time.

  5. I support the movement 100%. If starting the Sig is possible, I’ll associate too. Otherwise, nope! And although I think conferences are super cool to meet people from our PLN, that is not the reality. In fact, most people do not even know what IATEFL is. And another bunch will never be able to attend. I wonder why! 😉

    This is a great innitiative. Thanks a lot for doing it.

  6. So with you on this. I have been banging on about it for years, but clearly into some cobwebby corner as not a soul has ever come up with a thing I can cling to – except now. You BET I’ll join. And thank you for being the revolutionary I couldn’t seem to be.

    1. Hi everyone!

      I just logged in – expecting a blank space as usual – and there are actually comments!

      I really appreciate your support. To be totally honest – writing this post and setting up the Twitter account at the weekend was just a mad rush sparked off by a few people asking on Twitter ‘What was the story with IATEFL and the TaWSIG?’

      It was not planned, I just wanted the story to be told.

    1. Going to comment with my thoughts at greater length later, but a quick one here:

      What has the same people presenting or doing plenaries year after year got to do with working conditions for teachers?

      I don’t see the link.

      1. Hi Mike,

        In the comment I made I don’t make a causal link between the same people presenting every year, and working conditions.

        But I think there is a general claim to be made for change in the industry, and I think that’s what Nicola and Russell’s research was about (if I’m not mistaken) – building an evidential base in order to make claims for change. That’s one of the roles of research IMO.

        Also the work of promoting the interests of nNESTS too is the same trend of pushing for change and according to what I’ve read on FB, IATEFL are considering the role of advocacy for nNESTS.

        Hope that answers your question.

        1. An odd comment to include in the comments section to a blog post about teachers’ working conditions then, in my opinion at least. The way it was started ‘And as the research done by…’ seems to suggest a link to what has gone earlier, i.e. discussion of your proposal for a group focusing on teachers’ working conditions.

          Yes there may be a consensus among some to want to change the status quo, but presenting these things as linked (or that it may be interpreted that you feel they are linked) doesn’t seem to help, to my mind.

          1. Mike, you’ll have to ask Nicola Prentis and Russell about this – it’s their research. I’m not going to speak for her and Russell – perhaps she was talking about conferences worldwide not just the annual IATEFL conference – you’d have to ask them.

            paul

          2. I’m not representing these things as linked, I think that’s clear.

        2. Just to clarify…we counted up plenaries worldwide, no specific reference to IATEFL. One international conference (unnamed) was used as an example of bad gender bias track record.

          1. Hi Mike and Nicola,

            Just to clear up confusion – I’ve edited the comment to “an ELT Groundhog day.”

            paul

  7. Great work, Paul.

    Just to comment on this:

    “Perhaps the incoming President of IATEFL Marjorie Rosenberg will sweep a new broom through the ELT Politburo.”

    Sadly, I can’t see this happening. In my role as (recently retired) coordinator of the Materials Writing SIG (MaWSIG), I was in the meeting when your and Nicola’s proposal was rejected. I can report back that Marjorie Rosenberg was one of the chief opponents of the initiative and had (in my opinion) some of the weakest arguments against it. So, unfortunately, I wouldn’t expect any change in direction from IATEFL under new management.

    1. Hi Nick and Nicola,

      Thanks both of you for commenting. Nick, I really appreciate your honesty – I spoke to Marjorie at the Graz conference last year and again, just faced a wall of objections without any firm basis apart from ‘things will never change’. I really don’t know what the reasoning is here, or what the agenda of people is at the top of the ‘ELT establishment’. Maybe someone could enlighten us?

      I don’t think this attitude speaks much about leading a professional teacher’s association in the 21st century. It’s also not just Marjorie, lots of teachers don’t want change.

      Nicola, the next time my membership is up for renewal I won’t renew. This is a shame as I really like being in the Learner Autonomy SIG – yet I feel the LASIG is overlooked.

      On the positive side, I feel that there’s a lot of energy, creativity and ideas coming from a younger generation of teachers (and those from the previous generation who dislike the status quo). But it’s a pity that this energy and enthusiasm sometimes goes to waste.

    2. I’m not sure about this, but it seems to me that reporting online, and in a public space, the conversations which take place in private face-to-face meetings inside an organisational committee structure, is a bit beyond the pale…

      Though perhaps privacy and all that is an old-fashioned concept…

      Gavin

  8. Brilliant post! and interesting to hear that the incoming president is so opposed to progress. I too have let my iatefl membership laspse because I see it as a toothless vehicle for the same old stuff

  9. Hi Paul

    (Brief disclaimer: I have just become a SIG coordinator, though I was not one when the decision talked about here was taken)

    Firstly, I agree with the idea of some form of forum/entity within IATEFL to promote the ideas of teachers as workers as I understand you mean them. It seems to me to fit within the stated remit of IATEFL (though I am still unsure what the legal position is regarding IATEFL’s charitable status and their ability to act as a lobbying/advocacy group).

    But, I feel like this post is the wrong way to go about getting something done. You say you submitted a request to set up TAWSIG, which was rejected (on the grounds you mention) by the SIG group. Then you go on to say “conversation closed”. It seems to me that you have declared it closed, not IATEFL (or whichever strand of IATEFL you’ve talked to).

    There are 3 responses you quote. The first one is that a SIG doesn’t work in this context. So, find out what might work. The SIG coordinators (as with pretty much everybody else in IATEFL) are all volunteers. Your objection seems to be that having devoted their time to considering this proposal and deciding it doesn’t fit, then it is *their* job to research and work out how exactly it can fit and what exactly you should do about it. Seems a little unfair, to be honest. The second objection is that it’s not a PD issue. The SIGs you mention are PD based SIGs (as are all the others). Just because they might not be areas of PD that you are interested in, doesn’t make it less so.

    If the third is a straw man argument I like the way that you preface that by throwing your own strawman (or straw elephant) into the mix by suggesting that the SIGs are all run by the publishing companies. That’s simply nonsense. Whether the publishers have any influence within IATEFL I have no idea, but I can assure you that they don;t have any influence on the SIGs.

    (By the way, later you say ” I feel the LASIG is criminally overlooked. Why? Because it doesn’t push product!” WTF is that? How is LASIG criminally overlooked? In what sense is it overlooked? It might have fewer members than some of the SIGs, but then that’s life. My SIG does too. But I feel like I have an equal voice with all the other coordinators. And that’s not because I/we “push product”)

    In short, while I am minded to support the cause, I find your approach to be counter productive in the extreme.

  10. Hi Andy thanks for commenting,

    I think that like others within IATEFL, you’re making some unfair accusations here. Let me answer your points one by one.

    1) “Then you go on to say “conversation closed”. I haven’t declared the conversation closed – what I was referring to was the conversation about working conditions within IATEFL. This was closed by the decision to refuse the proposed SIG – but the arguments given just don’t add up. If the arguments added up then why are dozens of people responding to this post on IATEFL?

    I actually want to keep the conversation open, but the events of the weekend where I was personally accused on an IATEFL thread of “being political”, of running a “carefully managed campaign” seem to show that this conversation is being shut down.

    Nothing could be further from the truth and seems to be an attempt by certain individuals to paint me in a bad light. This “carefully managed” campaign is actually run on two things: a wing and a prayer. So before people portray me as the cartoon baddy or Goliath against the big victim here (IATEFL), they should think again.

    And just to set the record straight: I have nothing but admiration for the important work that IATEFL does and I’m not denigrating that work. Whatever people say.

    I’m just ONE critical voice and some people agree with me – what’s wrong with that?

    2) “The first one is that a SIG doesn’t work in this context. So, find out what might work.”

    We’re looking into other options. Like you say – IATEFL is run by volunteers, but the organisation has resources. Building up an organisation/ association from scratch is a daunting task- that’s why I suggested an IATEFL SIG (it was actually me and Nicola Prentis).

    But we are looking into a platform for this.

    3) “Your objection seems to be that having devoted their time to considering this proposal and deciding it doesn’t fit, then it is *their* job to research and work out how exactly it can fit and what exactly you should do about it. “

    This isn’t my objection – and I don’t think it’s their job to research this. I’ve never said this anywhere. My objection is that I would have thought that if enough paying IATEFL members support this – then why can’t it go ahead?

    4) “If the third is a straw man argument I like the way that you preface that by throwing your own strawman (or straw elephant) into the mix by suggesting that the SIGs are all run by the publishing companies. That’s simply nonsense.”

    It is nonsense and I never said this – you’re mischaracterising me. What I said was my personal opinion – that it seems that a TAWSIG won’t be allowed because it might interfere with certain interests – employers and publishers. I never suggested that the SIG were “run” by publishing houses, that’s an unfair accusation.

    5) “I feel the LASIG is criminally overlooked.” This is just an opinion of mine. I’m a member of LASIG and it has just over 200 members and in the last newsletter it states that “For some reason the membership figures of LASIG have not developed and increased in the way we had hoped” by the Joint Coordinators.

    I would like more people to join LASIG, I was just trying to express that it’s overlooked. Maybe I expressed this strongly – but I don’t think it’s offensive in any way. It this offends you then I’m sorry.

    You don’t substantiate your last sentence about my “approach” and why you find it to be counter-productive, so I’m unable to respond.

    Finally, in conversation with others I’ve been told that people prefer a more “reasonable” approach – that’s fine and if I have offended people’s sensibilities than I’m sorry about that. But don’t confuse the medium for the message; and what’s wrong with a little passion about something you care about?

    If you want to join us Andy – you’d be more than welcome.

  11. What I don’t like is the way this whole issue is turning personal – and onto MY personal qualities or motives. How do you think that feels?

    I’m not willing to back down from what I think are sound arguments but I AM willing to turn down the heat and try and build something positive.

    Maybe other people would like to do the same.

  12. In order, responding to your points as numbered by you
    1. As I read what you’ve written here, the SIG committee rejected the request/bid to have TaWSIG, on a number of grounds. That doesn’t mean the conversation is closed, it means that that particularly avenue might be closed (at this time)
    (PS why are you offended by this being referred to as political? You are trying to effect change and make progress. Is that not inherently political? It’s not an insult to my mind.)
    3. I think they’ve said why it cant go ahead in this form (ie a SIG). I mean we can agree or diagree with the reasons given, but they haven;t ignored this.
    4. “Is it because a TAWSIG would go against publishers’ and employers’ interests?” What are you saying here then? that publishers and employers came into the SIG coordinators meeting and made sure that the proposal didn’t get off the ground? If I’m mischaracterising you perhaps you;d like to tell people what exactly you’re alleging here?
    5. All the SIGs would like to have more members. One or two (things like young learner SIG) have very large memberships, for perhaps obvious reasons, others like LASIG have much smaller memberships (again not that surprisingly, I’m guessing). It’s not “criminal” (though I now get that you used that word as hyperbole, not literally) and neither is it being overlooked from some shadowy cabal. It is being “overlooked” (ie not signed up to) by members who are not sufficiently interested to do so. The idea that it is overlooked because it doesn’t “push product” (your words) is I think pretty offensive, because it implies that SIGs with a greater membership got that way through other means.

    I think the above sums up my feelings about your approach. Bandying about lots of subtle and not so subtle accusations and then when challenged on them replying that you didn’t mean that or that you are being misrepresented (I mean you went out of your way to locate a picture of an elephant for a reason, you can’t say that it was just some form of typo). As I say I believe there must be room within IATEFL for addressing teachers’ working conditions, but as someone who volunteers for IATEFL and puts in hours to attempt to support teachers and the profession, the way this is presented gets my back up and makes me less likely to sign up rather than more likely. It’s not a question of passion.

    Andy

  13. Hi again Andy,

    1. From my point of view, I feel that the conversation has been closed down – to be honest, originally, we submitted the proposal and just got an email back saying no, with the reasons. It actually wasn’t much of a conversation; no one from IATEFL actually said “We’d like to hear more”.

    You say ‘avenue is closed’, I say ‘conversation is closed with IATEFL’. Let’s agree to differ then – sounds like semantics to me.

    “PS why are you offended by this being referred to as political?” – Actually I was offended by Rob Szabo say that “MY ultimate motives were political”. This was a personal attack, for which he has apologised.

    The larger question of politics is an important issue, you’re right, and I don’t have all the answers. That’s why I suggested a group to deal with these issues.

    3. “I think they’ve said why it cant go ahead in this form (ie a SIG). I mean we can agree or diagree with the reasons given, but they haven;t ignored this. ”

    Like I said above, we proposed the SIG, we got one email back. Not what I’d call a conversation; and when I put this post up it just didn’t seem like people at the ‘top’ of IATEFL wanted to respond. That was my impression.

    4. “Is it because a TAWSIG would go against publishers’ and employers’ interests?” What are you saying here then? that publishers and employers came into the SIG coordinators meeting and made sure that the proposal didn’t get off the ground? If I’m mischaracterising you perhaps you;d like to tell people what exactly you’re alleging here?”

    Again, you’re twisting my words – I never wrote that “publishers and employers came into the SIG coordinators meeting and made sure that the proposal didn’t get off the ground?”

    I’m saying that the publishing industry and others are involved in IATEFL – is this a contentious claim? I would have thought it was obvious.

    5. I never said that ” SIGs with a greater membership got that way through other means.” Stop twisting my words. Read the post again.

    It was a critical comment – critical means challenging assumptions – it wasn’t meant to be offensive.

    Like I said before please don’t confuse the medium with the message; I understand that you put in hours to support teachers. Likewise, I have put in many hours to support Berlin LW GAS, our local grassroots teacher association. I completely empathise with the time and commitment this takes.

    Thanks also for supporting the idea of address teachers’ working conditions. Andy, I sense that you’re angry but I’m not the only person who is into this idea so it’s unfair to direct anger at me and twist my words.

    You want to support this initiative, fine. If you don’t, fine too.

  14. I’m not angry Paul.

    You claim I have twisted your words in two places. One in response to the elephant bit, which you are now saying only meant to imply “the publishing industry and others are involved in IATEFL” . OK, if that’s all you were saying then I apologise for twisting your words. As you say that’s not contentious. The way that part was written led me to believe you were saying something else.

    The other but was “I feel the LASIG is criminally overlooked. Why? Because it doesn’t push product!” You’re going to have to explain that one for me, because I can;t see any way of reading it which is not how I read it.

    I’m not trying to twist your words and I am not directing my anger at you. I guess in the end I think that directing anger at IATEFL is counterproductive as they are (hopefully) part of the solution, not part of the problem here. And I am sure you agree with me there.

    “You want to support this initiative, fine. If you don’t, I won’t force you to.”

    I’d like to sign off with an equally baffling way to finish here, but I don’t have the creativity :-)

    Cheers
    Andy

    1. Hi again Andy,

      Ok, I’ve edited the comment (which wasn’t even in the blog post) and removed the word “criminally” and the claim that LASIG is unpopular because it doesn’t push product.

      Also, if you find my final comment baffling, I’ll also edit that to make it clearer.

      Personally, I don’t feel like I’m directing anger at IATEFL – I’m putting forward a set of rational arguments. It would be great if people would respond to the arguments instead of to the way they are presented.

      IATEFL is a big organisation. I’m just ONE critical voice making my voice heard and I definitely don’t have all the answers.

      But I have some good questions and I’m sure you do too. I can tell that people in IATEFL are getting angry – it’s obvious – so we’ll be moving the conversation soon. I can’t help it if people keep responding and asking questions.

      Like yourself.

      Cheers,

      paul

  15. Perhaps you should share your SIG proposal document here so we can make an informed judgement about how it might work?

    1. Hi Mike,

      Again, Nicola actually wrote it and sent this in to IATEFL – I don’t have the proposal. I’ll email her about this.

      paul

      1. we never got as far as a proposal document, just an email, very loosely suggesting what we had in mind. The fact we were rejected without even being invited to make a formal proposal was part of why it seemed conversation with IATEFL was shut down

        1. Would you be willing to share that email (not necessarily the response)?

          1. Sure. In response to this:

            I’m intrigued to hear what the idea is although perhaps also worth mentioning at this early stage that we are cautious about proliferating SIGs unless there is a real, proven need. I’ll leave George to liaise with you about the procedure for taking your idea forward as he is the IATEFL trustee with responsibility for this area.

            I said this: Thanks for both getting back to me so quickly. The basic idea for the SIG is “Teachers as Workers” and would be to improve the working conditions and contracts of teachers in ELT around the world.

            This started with the response to this post I wrote on my blog which described what I find shocking treatment from major organisations. It has been shared and retweeted all over the place, including by some influential people in the ELT community, and got higher page views than anything else I’ve written – so that suggests a clear demand.

            Paul Walsh wrote to me with this suggestion for a SIG and he and I would potentially co-run it. I think we could inform teachers about the kinds of contractual questions they should be asking, comparing their conditions with those in the public sector as many just shrug their shoulders and think this is how it is. We would also want to empower teachers in how to get better deals for themselves and encourage best practice in employers.

            I’m convinced there is a clear need for this and I’d be grateful if you could tell me what I would need to do to demonstrate that need.

            ***
            So Paul did that survey and got the evidence of proven need and I think I then heard nothing so nudged IATEFL with our results. Next thing we knew it was being dismissed at the SIG co-ordinator’s meeting without us ever having the chance to put in a more considered proposal which would have maybe answered the concerns that got it rejected. since we were never given the opportunity to be part of the conversation, that couldn’t happen.

        2. Thank you for posting the email, Nicola. As a teacher with 8 years of ELT experience and high qualifications in Linguistics, I have been struggling to get by on several zero hours contracts and living the precariat lifestyle for the last 2 years, at a point in my life when my social peers are getting mortgages, starting families and gaining recognition since returning to the UK from teaching abroad. I just want to thank you for attempting to address the problems many teachers in this profession are facing. Your efforts really are appreciated.

          Could the ideas you have, such as informing teachers of the kinds of questions they should be asking about contracts, be developed into a website? (Apologies if something like this – I haven’t finished reading the discussion yet!)

  16. Two weeks ago I wrote in a comment above, somewhat excitedly: “I won’t not renew as I’m not a member but I was planning on joining. I’ll hold off until there’s some movement on this and do whatever little I can do influence that.”

    Since then I’ve followed and engaged in the TaWsig dialogue with great interest. Anybody or -bodies focused on the ELT life in different and fresh ways is bound to capture my attention and interest and maybe effort too. But I’ve realized that (at least for me) it’s really nothing to do with IATEFL specifically…AND that there are many more GOOD reasons to join IATEFL than BAD ones. Reading that back it sounds kind of silly, actually.

    So all I’m doing here is peeking my silly, smily, slightly sallow because of decade of precariously employed face back around the corner and saying ‘actually, no…heh..never mind about the IATEFL membership hold-out thing’ 😛 and adding this post-script to my public announcement of intentional non-joining (boycotting? get me excited enough…) above. If my new (and older) TaWsig brethren read this and think to themselves ‘oh there’s a comrade slippin’…dammit’ well, so be it. I won’t worry about it (seems to be the folks gathering around the TaWsig idea are smarter than all that…in fact I know it).

    Because personally – who said ‘all politics is personal’? – this cannot and will not be about ANYTHING AT ALL, or anyBODY at all but the problem itself, the problem I know and feel in the ghost-ache where the arm and the leg I’ve given to teaching once were: me and you, next to me here and out there, as people who work very hard in a job/field that does not treat us as the full-blown and sincere, committed professionals that we are.

    See you in two weeks when I come back to point out the silliness of this one. :)

  17. Thanks for both getting back to me so quickly. The basic idea for the SIG is “Teachers as Workers” and would be to improve the working conditions and contracts of teachers in ELT around the world.

    This started with the response to this post I wrote on my blog which described what I find shocking treatment from major organisations. It has been shared and retweeted all over the place, including by some influential people in the ELT community, and got higher page views than anything else I’ve written – so that suggests a clear demand.

    Reading the email above is fascinating and thanks for sharing (I hope nobody gets bent out of shape by its sharing). So, in bulletpoint form it seems that three main purposes of a new SIG were presented there:

    – inform teachers about the kinds of contractual questions they should be asking,

    – compare their conditions with those in the public sector as many just shrug their shoulders and think this is how it is

    – empower teachers in how to get better deals for themselves and encourage best practice in employers.

    Those seem like really good things, really essential things. My question is, for anyone who knows more than me about the ins and outs of IATEFL (that qualifies virtually everyone) – by whom and in what fashion are these efforts already in play within the main org and/or associate groups? I’d be really surprised if there were NO traces of anything…?

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