“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go with others.” – African proverb
I have been to many teachers’ conferences. Some good, many bad. None came even close to what I got out of the Innovate in ELT conference in Barcelona this year. Normally my school pays for teachers to go to conferences (I am lucky, I know), but this was the first one that I paid my own way, flights, accommodation, food, the lot. It was well worth it.
“What was so valuable about it?” you might ask, well let me tell you. Most conferences are about teachers going to sessions, publishers selling stuff and some big names giving plenaries. I think the idea of a big conference is great but most conferences under-deliver. Much like an understudy in a theatre production who got the role due to personal ties with the director.
However, the Innovate in ELT conference does all that it should do too, but it does it well. Extending my acting analogy, I would say that the Innovate in ELT conference is the Anthony Hopkins of the TEFL circuit; perhaps in a smaller role, but powerful enough to outshine the leads. A colleague of mine compared it to a smaller, more intimate music festival where everything goes well versus a major, impersonal festival like Glastonbury.
I made more real connections with people in the industry than all my previous conference experience combined! With specially-designed sessions breaking the ice for you and prompting your group to discuss key ideas, you very quickly learn who shares ideas, who can add to your ideas, whose ideas you can add to, and generally just get to know people faster and therefore leave the conference feeling like you have learnt something, met great people and had meaningful discussions about issues that matter in our industry.
I used this as a chance to present the idea of how teachers need a set of universal principles informed by research and neuro-linguistics studies to give us a better idea of how to add value to the learning process. I do not hold teachers responsible for the gap between research and real-world classroom practice. I strongly believe that the environment needs to change. Teacher training institutions and materials publishers need to step up to the plate on this issue.
Below are my videos made from my presentation at this conference. If you want to know more about the Innovate in ELT conference, please click here.
Click here to download the slides for this presentation.