Next week I’ll be heading to New Orleans for the 45th Annual TESOL Convention. Will you be there, too? It’s not too late to register. I admit it can be expensive to attend, but if you can receive funding or manage to work the trip into your personal budget, there’s much to be gained by going. Here are my top 10 reasons for being a participant at the TESOL Convention in 2011.
10. You can experience some of the local culture and cuisine in New Orleans during “off” time.
9. You’ll get some freebies, such as the TESOL tote bag, catalogs and other literature in the Exhibit Hall, and possibly some food if you attend a few receptions. You might even be the lucky winner of TESOL’s raffle for free registration in 2012. (Hey! When you’re paying for the trip out-of-pocket, every freebie helps.)
8. You can check out the latest publications in the Exhibit Hall and seek guidance in your search for the materials that will help you the most. The Exhibit Hall is a high-energy place. Who doesn’t get excited walking through a bookstore? The difference between the Exhibit Hall at TESOL and a large store like Borders is that TESOL exhibitors offer materials solely for ELTs. It’s truly our kind of store. You don’t have to whip out your credit card at every booth. A certain amount of “window shopping” is done by everyone.
7. You can meet teachers with similar needs and interests by attending the business meeting and networking reception of your primary Interest Section.
6. You can visit the Electronic Village. The EV is often a hidden treasure. Do search for its location each year and read through the titles of sessions being offered. There will always be at least one if not half a dozen that will be of interest to you. They teach tech basics and highlight the latest trends, for instance, the use of mobile apps.
5. You can get a feel for the current trends and hot topics. You’ll do this by talking to publishing reps. in the Exhibit Hall, reading through the schedule, listening to plenary speakers, and participating in discussions (be it a posterboard session or an academic session). Each year I find it interesting to note the themes and issues that are addressed by more than one speaker and that are discussed in more than one circle.
4. You can meet new people. There are plenty of scheduled events and meetings at TESOL. Something I enjoy immensely are the chance encounters. I like chatting with whomever is next to me while I’m standing in line at registration. I like when the crowded lunch scene forces me to sit with strangers and I find those strangers to be open to conversation. Some of these chance meetings turn into more meaningful relationships. Back in Denver (TESOL 2009), I chatted with a group of teachers on the same airport shuttle. Today I find myself doing some collaboration with one of those women.
3. You can meet old friends and colleagues. This is so important to me because I work from home, and all my work is done online. I truly enjoy real facetime with people. It reconnects us in an important way.
2. You can learn something new every day of the convention. Everything at TESOL is set up for us to learn from and help one another. We love to teach, but how often do we get to focus on our own learning with such intensity?
1. You will feel united with others by a common field. I find it terribly exciting to be in the company of so many others who share my passion for teaching English. I felt a stronger sense of identity by attending my first TESOL convention back in 2003. I also recall how amazing it was in New York (TESOL 2008) to absorb our numbers. Throngs of people were eager to attend sessions. Guards had to make sure we were observing the maximum capacity stated for each room! I love the fact that we can be united by a common interest and common goal. It fills me with a sense of solidarity and pride.
I hope to see some of you in New Orleans. I will do my best to share some of my observations with all of you in next week’s postings.