By Dr Arlene Holmes-Henderson

On Monday 14th June 2021, the Classical Association (CA) hosted a virtual event for schoolteachers, designed to provide information, and dispel myths, about presenting at a CA conference as a teacher. Hosted by the CA’s Outreach Officer/Senior Research Fellow Dr Arlene Holmes-Henderson, a former schoolteacher herself, the event was a successful example of collaboration and knowledge exchange across educational phases, with both academics and teachers presenting.

The organisers of the forthcoming CA conference in Swansea 2022, Ian Goh and Maria Oikonomou, gave a short presentation explaining the difference between a paper and a panel, outlining what makes a successful abstract and charting the process from abstract submission to conference presentation.

Three teachers then provided personal testimonies of their CA conference presentation (and attendance) experiences. Pete Wright (Blackpool Sixth), Gemma Williams (Allerton Grange School, Leeds) and Andrew Christie (Streatham and Clapham High School) explained which CA conference they had attended, what their paper title had been, how many people had been in the audience, whether they applied as a paper or as part of a panel, how they handled questions and whether the conference had been as expected.

In a Question and Answer session, Pete, Gemma and Andrew then answered questions such as:

  1. What approach did each of you take to your ‘presenting style’? Did you read from a prepared script, talk through powerpoint slides or something else?
  2. How did you handle questions from the audience?
  3. Tell us about your liaison with the panel chair.
  4. Did you produce a handout?
  5. How long did your presentation last?
  6. Did you get time off from your school to attend the conference?
  7. Did you pay to attend the conference, or was there some financial support available?

Pete, Gemma and Andrew ended by sharing their top three tips for aspiring teacher presenters. These included suggestions such as, ‘Go for it! You present information in an engaging way every day, why would 20 minutes at the CA be any different?’ and ‘Don’t try to cover too much – the time goes really quickly’.

Ian and Maria ended the event by 1) promoting Swansea’s tourist attractions – the conference is about more than just the academic papers and 2) making it clear that abstract submissions from teachers are especially welcome, with one whole theme dedicated to Pedagogy, Outreach and Technology. Other possible themes include Classics and the Future and Digital Classics.

Full details can be found here.

Because this event was the first of its kind, the organisers were keen to gather feedback from participants. Results showed that 100% of attendees found the event ‘extremely useful’. 100% of attendees felt better informed about writing an abstract. 100% of attendees felt better informed about the difference between a panel and a paper. 100% of attendees said it was ‘likely’ that they would submit an abstract to the Swansea conference. When asked what they found most surprising, comments included: ‘how many people attend the CA conference’ and ‘that academics are keen for school teachers like us to get involved and have our say’.

The CA is the subject association for educators at all levels, and the conference is an important venue for bringing them into conversation. The deadline for submitting abstracts is 31st August 2021.