That time of year…
It’s that time of year again when thoughts turn to travel towards the UK. Normally this is one of my favourite events in the year and this year, I am once more one of the official Iatefl bloggers.
These days, however, we are living in uncertain times what with borders being closed and EU citizens being treated as little more than pawns in UK negotiations with the EU, I feel that we are living in a dark world. Even so, Iatefl shines a light into my teaching world and each year I go home afterwards with a wealth of new ideas and renewed energy for the classroom so, despite fears that they might not let me back into Italy, once I’ve departed for Glasgow, I am bravely preparing to leave tomorrow.
Ten tips for a successful conference
Whether this is your first or tenth Iatefl conference you have to know that attending an enormous event like this takes a certain amount of planning so here are my ten tips for a successful conference.
- If you are a speaker, prepare well in advance. This may seem obvious but Murphy’s law applies to conferences as well as other events. Do not rely on the wifi connection working, and make photocopies etc. in advance. If you have asked for 30 minutes, make sure that you can complete your presentation in 30 minutes, which requires forethought and practice. Having said that, the audience at Iatefl is generally extremely supportive so if problems do arise they will be on your side. I think the most important thing to remember when your nerves threaten to overwhelm you is that you have ideas that you believe in and you would like to share with others. That is ultimately what counts.
- Don’t try to go to everything. There are so many things on, so many parallel sessions, the book exhibition, posters, evening events, etc. that sometimes you just get carried away by it all. This means that by Day three you will be exhausted. Remember every now and then to take time out, have a coffee, wander along the river or just take some time to sit down and relax. Then you will come back with renewed vigour.
- I find it helps if I have one or two topics I am interested in. This year my topics are EMI (English Medium Instruction). writing and Lexis. That way you don’t get too distracted by all the parallel sessions.
- Don’t be too rigid though. Sometimes you just need to go with the flow, and be ready to go to something that looks interesting even if it wasn’t on your original list.
- Check the type of presentation it is. If a presentation is aimed at young learners, for instance, and you don’t teach them it might be something you are interested in precisely because you don’t teach them or it might not. The important thing is to know in advance.
- Remember that some events will be available on video, so if a videoed event clashes with something else you are interested in, you can always catch up later.
- Remember that Iatefl is also a very social conference, about meeting up with old friends and making new ones. Do not be afraid to go up to people and just talk to them, most people are very friendly.
- Don’t forget to explore Glasgow as well. You can actually spend your entire time at the conference but that would be a shame, if you have travelled thousands of miles to be there. A walk into the city centre is a must, and the conference arranges excursions too, so check them out when you arrive.
- The evening events are also generally very well organised and include parties, receptions, storytelling, theatre events etc. etc. The last time we were in Glasgow we had Scottish Country Dancing too, I think.
- Finally, I think it is important to make the most of your time at the conference. Put your everyday worries on hold for the next few days and focus on professional development and FUN. See you there. (Please say ‘hello’ if you see me) 🙂