Category Archives: Conferences

#AusELT Twitter chat – Conference/PD Swap Shop – Sunday 1st October 2017

Photos from QATESOL Regional Conference in Mackay: Arizio Sweeting presenting and the book display

Arizio Sweeting presenting and the book display at the QATESOL Regional Conference in Mackay, August 2017 (photo by @cioccas)

Note: This chat has now taken place. You can read the transcript here

The 2017 English Australia Conference was just a week ago, and we know many of you were there based on the volume of posts on Facebook and Twitter. Possibly you’re still processing and reflecting on what you learned and want to discuss it with others?  Well, join us on Twitter this Sunday to share your highlights and ask questions.

If you weren’t in Adelaide last week, that’s no problem – you can share your experience and learning from any conference or other PD from throughout the year. Share with colleagues from around Australia what you saw, what you loved, what you found interesting or controversial. Let’s identify the hot topics for 2017 by comparing experiences from different events.

If you presented at a conference or other event, especially if it was your first time, share your experience with others to inspire them to step up next time!

At this time of year #AusELT hosts a chat on Twitter where we swap experiences, reflections, resources, links, etc. from PD we’ve done the year. If you haven’t been lucky enough to get to any events this year, come along and get a taste of what was on offer from those who did. It’s a good opportunity to ask questions and/or share new/interesting ideas that have come your way lately from sources other than conferences.

This#AusELT Twitter chat took place on Sunday 1st October 2017 at 8:30 pm AEDT (Canberra time). You can read the transcript here.

QATESOL Regional Conference, Mackay,August 2017 - Carmel Davies workshop

Carmel Davies leading a song in her workshop at the QATESOL Regional Conference in Mackay, August 2017 (photo by @cioccas)

This post by @cioccas

Conference and Networking Tips – A summary of the #AusELT Twitter chats in July & August 2017

Audience at a conference

This post is a summary of the #AusELT Twitter chats of July and August 2017.

I’d like to extend a very big thank you to everyone who took part during the chats as well as those who commented and made suggestions afterwards. Unlike our other chats where we have used Storify to summarise the chats, this post is a step by step summary that will hopefully be easy to follow and help all of us make the most of the conferences we attend both in terms of learning and networking. We are publishing it now with all eyes on the upcoming English Australia conference, but the information will be useful for any other conferences as well.

Before the conference

Planning is a key element in making the most of a conference. These before tips focus mostly on activating your contact list and planning what you intend to learn at the conference.

  1. Research the presenters

This gives you a hook to chat about later and might make it easier to approach the presenter and thank them for the session or ask questions. It also helps with structuring which sessions you can or should attend and which you might not learn much from.

  1. Read about the topic of presentations

In classrooms we try to activate students’ background knowledge before dealing with a topic. Going into a session with that ‘schemata’ already activated and with some additional knowledge about the topic allows you to make more of the session.

  1. Get your questions ready before the session

Go into a session with questions you want answered and if the speaker doesn’t answer them ask. Presenters generally appreciate questions and if you do ask a question they cannot answer, most presenters will get back to you via email.

  1. How will you record ideas and link contacts?

Plan ahead on how you will make notes. I personally scribble all kinds of strange symbols that make sense to only me, but it helps me to scan over my notes to find things I wanted to read more about later, or an idea I wanted to try in a classroom. It also helps me to find ideas in all my notes that I intended to share with colleagues or friends.

  1. Prep essentials charger, phone, business cards, money, etc.

This seems like a very obvious one, but it is better to make a list of all the things you need and be sure to check them of the list as you pack.

  1. Look at the program and plan your day

Find out who else is going and try to cover more sessions by splitting up and sharing later of possible. Sometimes it is also nice to be in a session with someone you know. If it’s a long or complex program, select a theme to follow.

During the conference

  1. Split up

As a group, don’t go to all the same sessions. Share questions, split up, make notes, meet up and share. This allows you to make the most of the conference in more than one way. If you hear others talking about a session that you didn’t attend and you are comfortable with doing so, ask them some questions.

  1. Plan what you will leave with

The freebies are great, but remember you have to carry them in your luggage later.

  1. Rest in between

Take time to reflect mid conference. Pace yourself. You need time to reflect and ensure that the plan you came with is being followed.

  1. Notes

Make notes in the sessions and walk in with your questions so your notes match them as far as possible. Take part in the session especially if it is a workshop. Use a structure that works for you.

  1. Make contacts

Make contact with people you can network with after. Tweet during the conference and/or post on social media. It allows other people to notice you.

Take pictures with people you connect with, or sessions you are in, so you can remember them later on.

After the conference

  1. Email the presenter

Most presenters make their email addresses available. I appreciate a thank you mail and I am sure most other presenters do to. Thanking them for the session and the information is a nice gesture that could lead to future contacts.

  1. Plan time to think about new info and share

It is important to reflect and put into practice what you have learned. Sharing with colleagues also allows you to reflect more deeply.

  1. Experiment

Try new ideas and write reflections. Evaluate how effective they were or not and adjust. Then when you are planning your next conference, use these reflections to structure the questions that you plan beforehand.

  1. Share with colleagues and create discussion groups online or F2F

Compare notes to previous conferences and look for overlap, holes that could generate new questions and other things you need to find out. Uses the ‘Question – Learn – Reflect – Question’ cycle.

5. Create a mini PD share ideas with others.

Write a blog post about the conference or a session you attended there. Or maybe the theme you followed. AusELT will also be interested in these blog posts, so if you are planning one, please let us know and we can guide you through the writing if you are uncertain where to start or how to proceed.

6. Focus on your own learning and development post conference.

Make a record of new contacts and try to stay in touch whether through social media or in person if at all possible. 

Networking tips

General

Networking can be very scary. A comment that quite a few participants made was about how we can be so confident to speak in front of a class, but so petrified to speak to individuals at conferences.

  1. Be interested and be less worried about being interesting

Ask questions and listen to what the other person is saying. It is far less intimidating than having to try and be interesting all the time.

  1. Food and drink allows you to avoid awkward silences

Meeting for a coffee or a drink makes it easier to hide awkward silences behind eating or drinking and people seem to be slightly more relaxed when there is food involved.

  1. Present

Presenting is a great way to get to know people. If the opportunity arises, submit a proposal and present. It is a great way to meet lots of people and you can dictate what the conversation is about as it will often be about the presentation.

Before

  1. Plan

Arrange with people you already know or people that you know online to meet up. This makes networking with others a lot easier as they might know people you don’t and you can be introduced.

  1. Have a goal in mind

Why are you networking? Usually it is to meet people, find a new job, connect with like-minded people, etc. Plan who you want to meet and what you will say as this will remove some of the ‘stage fright.’

  1. Research the presenters and other attendees

If you have researched presenters and other attendees, you will have something to talk about.

During

  1. Speak to the presenter afterwards if you have questions

This will be a lot easier if you have questions prepared. Also say how you felt about the presentation. It is repeated here as it was already mentioned above, but walking in with questions makes it so much easier to make contact.

  1. Social

Join the social program if the conference has one. There is also the opportunity to network during coffee breaks and lunch.

  1. Look around you

Find someone who was in a session with you and talk to them. This is even more important if it’s your first conference or if you don’t know anyone. Start with a standard opener like ‘I saw you in XYZ session. What did you think?’ Also, look for others who appear alone and talk to them. You are not alone in being alone.

  1. Manners make the person

Don’t snub or be mean. Mind your manners online and F2F. People remember if they were snubbed and it hurts, especially if it is your first conference and a more experienced person was mean to you. Everyone was new at some point in time.

  1. Make yourself approachable

Learn names, use names and wear name badges if they are available. If someone can see your name, they might be more willing to initiate conversation. Make your contact details available. Have business cards or make your email or social media contact information available so it is easy to connect with you.

  1. Be helpful to newbies

Think what you can give not what you can get.

After

  1. Have an accessible online presence

As important as it is to make the information available, you need to have a professional online presence. Avoid silly names or extreme political opinions. You can have two presences online. Make your professional one professional and accessible.

  1. Interact with new contacts

If people contact you, connect and interact. Keep in mind that it is not always what you can get, but more often what you can give that makes these connections worthwhile.

  1. Arrange collaborations or meet ups afterwards

It is so much easier to meet someone for a second or a third time. This also allows you to access contacts in their network and vice versa. Make use of these opportunities if they are available.

Conclusion

Another thank you to everyone who participated in making the two twitter chats a success and we hope that the notes above makes networking less intimidating and that you get to really maximise the benefit in each conference you attend.

Summary written by @heimuoshutaiwan

Photo taken from http://flickr.com/eltpics by Fiona Mauchline, used under a CC Attribution Non-Commercial license, http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/

Networking for Success – #AusELT Twitter chat, 6th Aug 2017

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This Twitter chat took place on Sunday 6 August.  Click here to read the summary: Conference and Networking Tips – A summary of the #AusELT Twitter chats in July & August 2017

Our last twitter chat was about making the most of a conference. One key element of this is the ability to network effectively. Networking, however, isn’t just limited to conferences, but plays an important role in career success and satisfaction.

Join us on Sunday to share and discuss online or face-to-face networking tips that will make us all more effective.

The chat aims to cover:

  • General networking tips – online and face-to-face
  • Networking before, during and after an event

We look forward to seeing you on Sunday.

This post by @ heimuoshutaiwan (Gerhard Erasmus))

Getting the most out of a conference – #AusELT Twitter chat, 2nd July 2017

This Twitter chat took place on Sunday 2 July.  Click here to read the summary: Conference and Networking Tips – A summary of the #AusELT Twitter chats in July & August 2017

Photo of conference presenter, Anne Burns, taken at UECA PD Fest 2015

Photo by @cioccas taken at UECA PD Fest 2015, Sydney

Conferences form a significant part of a teacher’s professional development and ability to network with other professionals. Our next two twitter chats will be dedicated to these two topics. This Sunday, we will be sharing ideas on how to get the most out of a conference for your own and your staff’s professional development.

There are quite a few good websites with great ideas, but we’d like you to share your own stories and ideas that have worked for you.

The chat will be divided into:

  • Before the conference
  • During the conference
  • After the conference

Not sure about Twitter?

Why not have a go? We can help you out. Get in touch with any of the #AusELT admin team on Facebook or Twitter (eg, @heimuoshutaiwan or by leaving a comment below. Here are some posts that should also help you get started:

This post by @heimuoshutaiwan

Conference/PD Swap Shop – #AusELT Twitter chat, 2nd October 2016

Many #AusELTers old and new attended the recent English Australia Conference. And we know some of you have been to other conferences this year. At this time of year #AusELT hosts a chat on Twitter where we swap experiences, reflections, resources, links, etc. from PD we’ve done the year.

This was the topic of our #AusELT Twitter chat, on Sunday 2nd October 2016. This chat has now taken place.

photo of  Anne Burns at UECA PD Fest Sydney 2016

Anne Burns at UECA PD Fest Sydney 2016 (@cioccas)

Did you attend a conference this year, or other major PD event? Please join us and share your experience and learning with colleagues from around Australia. Share what you saw, what you loved, what you found interesting or controversial.

If you haven’t been lucky enough to get to any events this year, come along and get a taste of what was on offer from those who did. A good opportunity to ask questions and/or share new/interesting ideas that have come your way lately from sources other than conferences.

To get an idea of how much can be achieved in an hour on Twitter, check out this summary post from our 2014 Conference Swapshop. (Sorry, we don’t seem to have done a summary for the 2015 version.)

Looking forward to e-seeing you all then!

NB: New members/New to Twitter? Please see the Twitter page on the blog for help and ‘how-to’. Come along and try it out!

This post by @cioccas

Conferences & Presenting – #AusELT Twitter chat, 3-4 Sept 2016

CC0 Public Domain Free for commercial use No attribution required

Note: This chat has now taken place. You can read the summary here. Great tips for conference attendees and presenters, some persuasion for would-be presenters, and definitely some big love for networking!

September’s #AusELT chat is coming up! This time we’ll be talking about conferences and presenting including:

  • why attend a conference anyway
  • how to get the most out of the experience
  • why presenting could be good for you and how to get started
  • dos and don’ts for presenters

We’ll also be using the ‘slowburn’ format for the first time this year. For us, this means the chat will be spread over the whole weekend instead of just 1 hour on Sunday night 🙂

We’ll start early on Sat 3rd September, and run right through till late on Sunday 4th September. You can contribute, read and discuss tweets on this theme at any time in that period, so feel free to drop in and out a few times over the weekend! Just remember to add the #AusELT hashtag to your tweets so we can all see them.

If it is your first time using Twitter, slowburns are a nice and gentle way in to connecting with others. You might also be interested in these posts:

Need help with Twitter?

#AusELT 1-page guide to Twitter

So you have a Twitter account – now what? 

Looking forward to e-seeing you this weekend!

This post by @sophiakhan4

Perspectives on developing a ‘learning organisation’ approach to PD – Part 2

This is the second in a short series of blog posts inspired by Adrian Underhill’s workshop on Developing a ‘learning organisation’ approach to PD, which he delivered at various locations in Australia recently. To find out more about Adrian Underhill, read his recent interview in the English Australia Journal.

TamzenAbout the author:

Tamzen Armer is currently Assistant Director of Studies at an LTO in Canberra, and Reviews Editor at the English Australia Journal.


Adrian Underhill’s session on “Developing a ‘learning organisation’ approach to PD” raised some interesting questions for me about learning in my LTO. In keeping with my key ‘take-away’ from the session, allow me to share . . .

Identify something you have learnt at work recently . . . who else knows you have been learning that?

Throughout the workshop, Adrian made reference to “the mess we’re in”. For me, that mess was perhaps best summed up by the question above – who else in my organisation knows what I have been learning, and indeed what do I know about what others have been learning?

Individual learning can be wasted unless harnessed at organisational level

It seems to me that in my organisation a lot of learning must be getting wasted. I know I rarely share my learning with others and I suspect that is the same for other people. It’s not because I don’t want to share, but there never seems to be the time, the opportunity or the forum.

In an organisation I worked at previously, there always seemed to be discussion about teaching and learning, about how to explain things to students, about how best to teach things, about what people had learned at external PD sessions. It all happened in a very organic way, outside of organisation-imposed PD sessions, and it was extremely important for me as a relatively new teacher. These discussions made me enthusiastic about English, about the job, the possibilities. It helped me bond with my colleagues. It gave me confidence when I felt I could contribute to the discussions and when I didn’t, I learned things.

There are no ‘universal’ solutions to ‘local’ situations . . .

So what is different in my current LTO? Well, to start with, the way our timetable works means that there is no common break time or lunchtime. Or start or finish time. A lot of the discussion in my previous organisation occurred during the short breaks in classes or after class when everyone would be in the staff room. The staff room: difference number two. At my current organisation some teachers are in two-person offices; the others in 10-person rooms. But because of the timetable, there may only be a couple of people in those room at any one time. It seems to me that both of these factors impede the sharing of ideas and opinions and thus learning is wasted.

It’s been easy for me to notice this but to put it in the “too hard” basket. However, having the time in Adrian’s session to focus on this problem, to talk through it with others and to see that no ‘universal’ solution does not mean no solution, was very useful.

We need to develop local knowledge that follows the contours of the setting and circumstances we are in . . .

A number of suggestions were made by other workshop attendees. The first was having a noticeboard in a common area where things could be shared. Unfortunately as our common areas are also common to other departments, as well as accessible to students, I had to rule this one out. A second suggestion was to have face-to-face meetings/idea shares. I know this is popular with teachers as when we have done it in the past, feedback has been good. However, the time constraints mean this is only really possible in our non-teaching weeks which occur four times a year. This did not seem frequent enough to create the kind of collaborative environment I was envisaging and also our sessional and casual teachers, the bulk of the staff, aren’t generally around at those times. However, as people are keen on this kind of forum, it seems worth pursuing and I think it would be possible to have more frequent get-togethers of smaller groups and, by changing the meeting times, different combinations of people could come together. A final suggestion was a closed Facebook group where ideas could be shared. Another attendee reflected on her experience of using this kind of forum in her LTO and it seemed promising and would certainly overcome many of our “environmental” constraints.

We make the mistake of dictating problems and solutions, making people passive, colluding in the problem and dictating answers, rather than inviting them to empower themselves by entering the problem, and developing their own knowledge — Anne Burns

Fortuitously, this workshop occurred just before one of our non-teaching weeks and I took the opportunity to arrange an informal PD session in which I reported back on my learning from Adrian’s session and had colleagues who attended the EA Conference share what they learned there. There did seem to be a general feeling that we could be sharing more and a number of avenues for communication were suggested by staff. Firstly, people were, as expected, keen to meet face-to-face, even for relatively short periods of time. There was also a feeling that email, as our main workplace channel of communication, could be used for such purposes. One colleague suggested having a particular subject-line convention such that emails of this type could be easily identified/redirected into folders to save them disappearing into the mass of email communication which fills the inbox each day. It was also suggested that our staff Moodle site be used to collect and store useful links, and indeed a number of the conference attendees had already put links to sessions they found particularly beneficial on there.

Do you, the teacher, demonstrate the quality of learning you want your students to develop?

In our classrooms we ask learners to communicate, co-operate and collaborate. We expect our learners to think critically about resources they use, and we expect them to become autonomous in their learning. It will be interesting to see now whether we are able to do the same.

This post by @tamzenarmer

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are those of the individuals, and not those of #AusELT in general or of English Australia.