Sunday, May 7, 2017

Top 3 reasons for going to #ELT conferences



I'm writing this on a very early flight from Barcelona to Rome, my eyes still slightly glazed and trying desperately to adjust to the way-to-bright light of airplane interiors. I've just had a wonderful time at a wonderfully organized conference that makes the inconveniences of economy, early, connection-necessary flying seem well worth it.

If you haven't heard of it yet, InnovateELT hosted by Oxford House Barcelona is a definite treat. You can check out their website or twitter hashtag #iELT17

With the experience fresh in mind, here are my top three reasons for going to #ELT conferences: (insert drumroll)

  1. You get out of your comfort zone.
Teaching for the same school for a number of years, dealing with monolingual classes, using the same coursebook or teaching the same classes; all of these put us in a proximal comfort zone. Realistically we might expand that comfort zone, more to the right or more to the left. That being said, unless you have the opportunity to drastically change all of the above mentioned situations every year or a couple of years, you're probably under stimulated. Conferences are wonderful opportunities for you to connect to your community, learn about new ideas, methods, approaches and tricks. It literally puts you in positive variation of the "fight or flight" mode.

  1. You get to meet inspiring people.
And those people are not just good because they're saying something enlightened that they've figured out, but rather they fuel your own enlightenment and help you see things from a different (and might I say, positive and usually completely mind-blowing) perspective. You might have great co-workers but I've rarely felt as supported as when I'm presenting at a conference and people tell me "I'll be there, you can count on me."

  1. It allows you to grow.
As teachers we tend to become stuck in our beliefs about what teaching is all about. Being in a conference can give you the opportunity to reflect on your own teaching assumptions and embrace change. The ever skeptical will say that conferences also present us with a myriad of talks and workshops that feel either like one big publicity stunt or immensely undoable, but most often than not, there is a silver teaching lining in all of them. You get to learn how to identify what you're not comfortable spending 30 or 60 minutes on, get up and leave. I hated being wrong in choosing the talks I would attend because I would feel stuck. Realistically you should never feel like that. If, for whatever reason, you're not enjoying yourself or it's not what you were expecting, get up and leave. The speaker will carry no lingering grudge and you would have made a significant step in self growth and particularly being assertive.

What would your advice be to conference-going people based on your experience?

The Sound Eater

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