Here are some of the requirements and ideas that have emerged from our experiences of ISfTE Seminars over the years. They are intended to help would-be Convenors of future seminar and can be added to when new ideas are tried out. The Secretary-General, ISfTE’s communications manager and previous Convenors will also provide further information and advice if required.
Purpose and General Introduction for the Seminars
The annual Seminar for the International Society for Teacher Education is the important and sole face-to-face event for the Society. It provides an international forum to present, discuss and exchange knowledge and views about contemporary and future issues in teacher education. Meeting together also facilitates members to develop and consolidate collaborations with teacher educators in other parts of the world.
All those attending are expected to present a paper for discussion to a small group of colleagues from other parts of the world. The atmosphere is collegial and informal with plenty of time for positive and critical appraisal of ideas, practices and research.
The Seminar is held in a different part of the world area each year with the guiding principle that there is only one annual Seminar in a world area during a three-year period. Traditionally in alternate years the Seminar has been held either in Europe or North America.
Time is set aside during each Seminar for the Society’s Annual General Meeting of the membership to conduct the formal business of the Society.
ISfTE Seminars last about a week in duration and commence about a week after Easter. Variations in both duration and date have occurred in response to local circumstances and facilities.
Participants enjoy opportunities to experience cultural activities and to see something of the local environment. Many Seminars also have a programme for accompanying persons who will not be participating in the academic work.
It is important to note that each Seminar is self–financing. Moreover, organizers are expected to provide the Secretary-General exemption from paying the registration fee, room, board, and necessary and reasonable travel expenses. The Conveners (no more than two) from the previous year’s Seminar are also exempt from paying registration fee, room, and board for the Seminar following the Seminar for which he/she was responsible and may receive reasonable travel expenses subject to the financial circumstances of individual Seminars.
Any keynote speakers may have their registration fee, room, board, and reasonable travel expenses paid for at the Seminar he/she speaks by the convener. This is under the condition that the Keynote Speaker will attend the whole Seminar and subject to the financial circumstances of individual Seminars. Other arrangements are possible but are to be exceptions.
Preparing and presenting an initial proposal to host an ISfTE Seminar
If you would like to host an ISfTE Seminar, the Secretary-General and any of the previous conveners will be pleased to discuss your initial ideas informally. Don’t hesitate to ask. Seminars are joint ISfTE enterprises.
The proposal itself need only be two- or three-pages but it should give sufficient information for the Venue Selection Committee to be confident that there are sufficient people, support and resources for the proposers to host an appropriate Seminar.
- Information contained in the proposal should include:
- Name of the institution offering to host the Seminar
- Names of principal convener(s) (who should include at least one ISfTE member)
- Proposed venue for Seminar
- Proposed dates
- Tentative theme for the Seminar
- Institutional support for the Seminar – from senior management, government or local education authorities. It helps to attach letters of support
- Information about main Seminar and residential accommodation – on college campus? Local hotel or conference centre?
- Names of steering committee to assure ISfTE that the Seminar is a group responsibility
- Rough estimate of costs for participants. A detailed budget could not be included though some overall estimate of what an individual participant would need to pay is helpful despite it only being a guess so far in advance. Conveners must be realistic about their resources
- Any plans for sponsorship – in kind or money
- If there will be an accompanying person’s programme
- Travel possibilities – proximity to airports, railway stations
- Background information about the neighbourhood and country – even an enticing picture
Do keep the Secretary-General up to date with your intentions and invite comment on your preliminary proposal.
Selection of venue
The Secretary-General will establish a working group at the Seminar, ideally 3 years in advance. This group will make the final recommendation on a preferred venue based on the submitted proposals and bearing in mind the locations of recent Seminars to ensure ISfTE is moving around continents. Each proposer will be invited to make a short presentation to the working group and the final choice is usually announced at that Seminar’s ISfTE’s Annual General Meeting.
Preparation after the proposal is accepted
The Secretary-General and ISfTE’s Communication Manager are happy to advise and give practical help especially with publicity, participant’s registrations and sending email messages to all previous and current members.
- Confirm Seminar committee usually includes the convener(s), a representative from senior management (whoever is underwriting the costs), administrator and a few keen colleagues.
- Resolve final dates and book residential & working accommodation
Ideally all activities, such as working sessions, dining and accommodation for both participants and their accompanying persons, take place at the same venue. Essential requirements are: a central hall or lecture theatre for keynote addresses and whole group meetings and nearby a sufficient number of paper group discussion rooms – usually eight to ten. University residences and conference centres usually provide necessary services such as telephones, proximity to shops, banks and transport and laundry facilities. A central Seminar Office is necessary and this needs to be staffed at most times during the Seminar. In addition it is important to provide advice and contact details for help in an emergency.
- Budget and Financial Management
Seminars are self-financing and no call may be made on our central, limited ISfTE funds. Before determining the Seminar Fee for participants, it is essential to prepare an itemised budget for all expenses which will be incurred. This cannot be done reliably until the programme, venue and any commercial costs are finalised. Add a small margin for unforeseen contingencies and inflation. When all costs have been determined (plus the small margin) the Seminar Fee can be set by dividing the sum of costs by the minimum number of paying participants who must attend to balance the budget. Experience has shown that this number is about 80 although some Seminars have recruited fewer participants. Be sure to count as costs the expenses of participants who will be subsidized (ISfTE Secretary-General, previous Convener(s), Keynote speakers, special guests at functions, gifts and printing, stationery, mailing, telephone, faxing, transport, catering, accommodation, Seminar rooms and equipment hire, and consumables.
- Outside funding
Most conveners have managed to obtain outside financial support or support in kind. Various educational and governmental agencies, commercial firms and philanthropic bodies at national and international levels may be prepared to assist with the ISfTE Seminar.
Experience has suggested that most such bodies allocate their grants at least twelve months in advance so that an early approach with a detailed educational rationale is necessary.
Applications for financial support for specific purposes are also likely to be successful such as grants to assist distinguished teacher educators from developing countries to attend, for promotion expenses, for printing brochures and so on. Municipalities and government agencies have been helpful in hosting events.
Discretion is required on the appropriate use of any logos of outside funders.
The special character of ISfTE Seminars is reflected in the programme that provides the friendly and professional atmosphere which is so rewarding. Scholarly effort in paper preparation and presentation to small groups, group discussion following private reading of papers, stimulating keynote addresses and issues sessions devoted to current concerns are well established features. A balanced programme of social and cultural events throughout the week enables participants to learn about the context of education in the host country. Programs of previous Seminars offer best guides and, despite differences in detail, each preserves ISfTE’s essential character.
Participants appreciate the chance during the Seminar to have stimulating cultural, social and environmental experiences drawing on the opportunities offered by the host country. These should be few in number but of high quality. Experiences involving children have always been well received.
- Keynote Speakers
Most Annual Seminars have had three or four Keynote Speakers, at least one delivered by a distinguished teacher educator from the sponsoring institution or country and the others from different countries in order to maintain the international character of ISfTE. It is also desirable to draw Keynote Speakers from men and women in our ISfTE international network. The final Keynote Speaker may address the Theme of the Seminar and draw together the contributions of the previous Keynote Speakers.
Keynote Speakers are normally expected to participate in the entire Annual Seminar in order to enhance dialogue among participants based on the Keynote Addresses.
Each Annual Seminar has had a Theme. It is advisable to check over the themes for previous Seminars which are all quite broad to encourage participation and papers from a variety of fields in teacher education and from many countries and cultures. It is also common practice to spell out the theme with a series of topics to give some direction to paper presenters.
- Seminar Papers
ISfTE encourages and expects all participants to present a paper based on their thinking, current research and innovative practice about teacher education. Papers should address one or more of the sub-topics of the theme.Conveners should advise participants that papers should be about 2000 words in length although shorter papers are frequently presented, especially if the work is in progress. Lengthy papers (4000+ words) are not encouraged. Participants are usually asked to bring 20 copies of their paper- ten for the paper group members, three for Seminar records and the rest for distribution to other participants on request. Participants may only present a second paper with the agreement of the members of their paper group and for presentation after all other papers have been considered. Jointly authored papers may also be presented provided at least one author is a participant.Authors should consult the editor if they would like their paper to be considered for publication in JISTE.
These should be sent well in advance of the Seminar in order to allow papers to be accepted and to have them printed for inclusion in the Seminar Folder. The deadline for abstracts should be clearly stated in the brochure together with the criteria for acceptance which should include reference to the theme and subtopics and relevance to international teacher education..The organizing committee needs to establish a protocol and timetable for vetting and responding to abstract which can be a lengthy business. Attendance by some participants depends on acceptance of their abstract.
- Travel arrangements
Participants welcome travel advice as soon as possible to benefit from early booking fares. Bear in mind that many people may not have visited your country before and need detailed information for the journey to the seminar venue. Participants should inform you of expected time and location of arrival including flight details. Some conveners have been able to pick up participants from the local airport.
ISfTE’s Communication Manager and Treasurer will assist with registration and with managing seminar fees.
It is never too early to start planning and to map out a timetable of preparations allowing for the unexpected obstacles
- Appropriate equipment
Although keynote presenters may expect to be able to use PowerPoint, you may decide it is not desirable or feasible to have viewing equipment in every seminar room. Make sure that the relevant information is sent to participants when their abstract has been accepted.
- Accompanying person’s programme
Many participants wish to bring an accompanying person/s to the Seminar. Conveners have usually been able to provide suitable accommodation and an interesting programme for such people who are spouses, family or friends of participants.Programmes for accompanying persons usually include all social and cultural activities arranged for the participants, meals taken together with participants when appropriate and additional activities of interest to the visitors. Some such activities may be optional. It is important to ensure that this program harmonises with the program for participants, that it is costed fully and included in the Registration Fee for Accompanying Persons.
Copies of brochures for previous Seminars indicate the information which needs to be included. The Brochure must indicate the deadlines for the Convener to receive Abstracts of Papers, Criteria for Acceptance.Registration and Deposits. The brochure should also indicate the method of payment of the Seminar Fee. Fees for Early Bird or late registration or cancellation should be clearly stated. ISfTE participants at the previous Annual Seminar will be encouraged to attend if they receive a Letter of Invitation from the Convener and the brochure giving details of theme, venue, costs etc
- The Le’Ora Cordis Trust
Applications may be made to the Le’Ora Cordis Trust for support for would-be participants from low GDP countries. Conveners should seek information from the Chair of the Trust on eligibility and the terms of support in order to include appropriate information in the brochure.
- ISfTE Website and database
Our networking system can provide substantial help in contact with current and past members, advertising, registration and payment. Conveners should contact the ISfTE’s Communication Manager as soon as possible to gain the maximum benefit.
- Forms of advertising
There cannot be too much advertising of a forthcoming Seminar. Potential participants can be reached through:
» ISfTE website;
» direct mailing of current and past members through ISfTE facilities;
» the ISfTE newsletter;
» requests to professional organizations associated with education to share the information with their members (members might do so within their own countries if they are given a format they simply have to forward);
» student teacher groups
» local and personal contacts
» announcements at teacher education events
» national and local journals and newsletters
» articles about the previous Seminars and ISfTE
» leaflets, available on ISfTE www site, to be printed and distributed whenever/wherever.
- In the years preceding Seminar
Nowadays, it can take a long time for individuals to plan (and finance) their international travel and they therefore need to know about future Seminars as soon as possible. As soon as the venue is agreed, Conveners should ensure basic information (dates, theme, location, who to contact) is available on our website. This information should go out in all ISfTE published items on the web and elsewhere. There will be opportunities at preceding Seminars to circulate information and to encourage participants to attend.
At the immediately preceding Seminar, there will be a slot in the programme for the Convenors to make a presentation attracting attendance for the following year.
- In final run up to Seminar
We have found that members and others tend to procrastinate and therefore it helps to send out 4 or 5 regular updates about the Seminar using the ISfTE communication network. These informal bulletins remind and tempt people to register. Having an early bird discount for registration encourages people to register before the cost goes up. But nevertheless be prepared to have some last minute recruitment strategies.
Conveners will need to keep very accurate and detailed files on all matters concerned with the Seminar. Prompt replies to inquiries and efficient management will assist participants especially as they make their arrangements to attend and in their efforts to attract local financial support. It is recommended that, in addition to files on Seminar topics (Finances, Program, Venue, Transport etc), files should be kept on each person who contacts the Convener. Records of all contacts made and written notes of telephone calls will save time and expense, and help in sorting problems.
- Seminar folders
It is customary for the Convener to provide each participant with a Seminar Folder or booklet when registering on arrival at the Seminar. The Seminar Folder may contain the following sections: List of Contents, Letters of Welcome, Seminar Program, Keynote Speakers, Abstracts of Papers, Lists of Participants (by paper group, alphabetical order and country. One such list should include addresses, telephone, email and fax numbers), maps of the venue and city and any other information which will be helpful to participants. A loose leaf folder may be convenient for additional pages and any last minute advice.
Running the Seminar
The following are just reminders for when the seminar is running.
» Designating academic and administrative responsibilities
» Meeting and greeting participants, registration
» Travel arrangements during Seminar
» Briefing paper group leaders
» Checking on arrangements for keynotes
» Information for outside venues and host
» Programme adjustments
» Notice Board
» Contact list of participants
» Group photograph
» A Few Other Ideas – The following are some ideas which have been used at some Seminars.
» Senior Student Team. A team of senior university students particularly in teacher education have been involved very successfully at some Seminars. They act as gophers but have usually been closely involved with paper groups so that they share in the educational experience and become part of the international network the ISfTE establishes so well. Students helpers need to be trained for their roles and may undertake academic tasks associated with the Seminar as part of their course requirements. In some countries where English is not the first language student helpers have been recruited to help with translation.
» Publicity Some Conveners have arranged publicity in national and local radio, television and newspapers. During the Seminar many participants are happy to be interviewed by reporters regarding their research and consultancies. Conveners may wish to contact media in their area to arrange such publicity.
» Welcome Function Most Seminars begin with a formal but short Welcome Function. The Convener may wish to invite local teacher education and civic leaders to speak at this function. The Secretary General usually welcomes the participants. Some functions have included a short musical or cultural presentation and a light supper.
» Logo and Colour Scheme Just as each Seminar has a Theme it is suggested that Conveners consider the advantages of devising a distinctive logo and colour scheme for their Seminar. These can be used on letterheads, envelopes, Seminar folders, wallets, menus, name tags and for decorations at the main functions.
» Seminar Wallet or Bag Some Conveners have also provided a plastic wallet or a cloth bag for the convenience of participants and to hold local tourist brochures, additional maps, lists of specialty shops and restaurants, and complimentary items. Such items and the wallet or bag have usually been donated by government agencies or businesses prepared to support the ISfTE Seminar. Donors will usually print the ISfTE Seminar, as well as their own logo, on the wallet or bag.
» Photographs A print of a group photograph of all participants can be presented to each person prior to their departure or emailed subsequently – any costs may also need to be added into the Seminar Fee. At some Seminars a photograph of each participant has been taken at registration and prints displayed with the participants’ names. This helps participants to get to know each other quickly and is especially helpful for new ISfTE participants.
» Visits to Schools and Institutions Arrangements have been made at most Seminars for participants to visit local schools and institutions on a voluntary basis either before, during or after the Seminar.
» Hosting a Visitor Depending on local custom it is possible at some Seminars to arrange for local friends and colleagues of the organising committee members to “Host a Visitor”. For example, two or three participants have been taken for a drive to local places of interest by a host and treated to a meal and family company in the host’s home. The outing is a welcome break from the Seminar and usually occupies an afternoon and evening. Participants have always responded to such hospitality very favourably and besides enjoying themselves they have remarked on how much they learnt from the experience.
» Spreading Jobs Around It is desirable to ensure that the many procedural jobs are spread around the participants. Tasks such as Paper Group Leaders, Chairpersons for Keynote Addresses, Persons to move votes of thanks at various functions, should be invited well in advance to do these jobs. Conveners should also ensure that new and old ISfTE participants are involved, that there is a gender balance and an appropriate representation from different countries.
» Announcements during the Seminar Experience suggests that all announcements of a housekeeping and organisational nature are best made by one person who has a good grasp of the ISfTE approach and the Seminar Program. This might be the Convener his/her nominee. Such announcements are best made only once a day if possible at the same time and place.
» Master of Ceremonies and Farewell Concert Occasionally, Conveners have invited one or two experienced ISfTE participants to organise and M.C. the “concert/party” usually held on the final evening of the Seminar. This kind of event needs to be arranged early in the Seminar in order to give people time to rehearse their items.
» Refreshments and a Bar Participants have welcomed the provision of tea and coffee facilities which can be used outside of scheduled catering times. It has proved important to provide a comfortable place for informal meetings and discussions. At some Seminars a bar has also been available in the evenings.
After the Seminar
- Thank you letters
- Complete financial affairs and send ISfTE Treasurer membership list and fees
- Present report on website
- Have a rest