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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/

Who looks after the teacher? (#AusELT Twitter chat Sunday 3 September 2017)

Our September Twitter chat is this Sunday 3rd September at 8.30pm AEST / Sydney time –  click here to find the equivalent time in other locations

Bamberg St Michael'sPhoto by @Clare_M_ELT St Michael’s church, Bamberg

Looking after yourself as a teacher is clearly important.  So, this Sunday, we will be talking about what influences our well-being, and sharing strategies and resources. What are your own stories? What works for you? How have your training and experience in work and life affected your ability to cope and help others cope?

The chat will explore but is not restricted to these avenues:

  • differentiating stressors
  • setting boundaries
  • support from and for others

Need to know more 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 @ClareM_ELT) or by leaving a comment below. Here are some posts that should also help you get started:

This post by @ClareM_ELT

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Networking for Success (#AusELT Twitter chat Sun 6th Aug 2017)

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Our August Twitter chat is happening on Sunday 6 August at 20:30 Sydney time. Click here to see the time where you are.

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 Sunday 2 July 2017)

Our July Twitter chat is happening on Sunday 2nd July at 8.30pm Sydney time – click here to see the time where you are. Hope to e-see you there!

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

AusELT/English Australia Journal Article Discussion

book-club

The article is available to read online here, or download as a pdf here (scroll to page 51).

An analysis of perceptions: Writing task designers in an English for Academic Purposes (EAP) program and a specific academic discipline (Elaheh Gharesoufloo, Macquarie University)


Introduction

Ella’s study is focused on the perceptions that the teachers who design writing test tasks have of what academic writing actually is. This is an important question to ask, since we know that beliefs and perceptions about language have an impact on pedagogical decisions, including testing and assessment.

Ella conducted her study in two contexts – 1) EAP, and 2) a university discipline – Accounting and Corporate Governance.

She adopted a theoretical framework that views language use within six areas:

  • skills
  • creativity
  • progress
  • genre
  • social practice
  • sociopolitical
    (see diagram below)

Discourses of writing and learning to write.png

The findings, on page 53, are interesting and it would be a good starting point to ask:

  1. To what extent do your own perspectives of academic writing fit with these findings?
  2. And, how useful do you find the six discourses of writing?

Future-proofing your career in TESOL (#AusELT Twitter chat Sunday 4 June 2017)

Our June Twitter chat is happening on Sunday 4th June at 6.30pm Perth time – click here to see the time where you are. Hope to e-see you there!

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Photo credit: Chrysa Papalazarou on @eltpics

In the upcoming Twitter chat we will take a look at job security and becoming more aware of ourselves as workers as well as teachers. We all want and need to stay employed but is the onus on our employers or on us to make sure that we are employable in a sector that is always changing?

Or could it be that we are looking at things completely the wrong way –  do we really need to ‘proof’ ourselves or should we be less reactive and plan ways to develop a more sustainable relationship with our future in TESOL?

A little light pre-reading to get you thinking about the topic in this SMH article.

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 @Penultimate_K or @cioccas, or by leaving a comment below. Here are some posts that should also help you get started:

 

This post by @Penultimate_K

Article Discussion Group

book-club

Image courtesy of http://kausarbilal.com/book-club-launch-at-south-asian-study-group/

Update

The winning article is “An analysis of perceptions: Writing task designers in an English for Academic Purposes (EAP) program and a specific academic discipline” by Elaheh Gharesoufloo, Macquarie University. The article is available to read online here, or download as a pdf here (scroll to page 51).

Some discussion questions will be made available later in the week. In the meantime, happy reading!

Screen Shot 2017-05-29 at 5.16.05 pm


Welcome to the voting page of the fourth Article Discussion Group. The idea is for us all to vote for our preferred article from the latest English Australia Journal, read it, and then join in a moderated discussion of the article. Authors will either join in on the discussion, or respond offline to points raised and questions asked, facilitated by the moderator. The discussion will take place on the #AusELT Facebook page and is scheduled as such: May 29-June 4 is reading time; June 5-12 is discussion time.

The articles are all relevant to many of the contexts in which AusELT folk practice. They are primary research articles, that is, the authors have devised and conducted their own research study and reported their findings. In addition, each article has been peer-reviewed, meaning that the editor has invited leading TESOL scholars to review and offer suggestions for improving earlier drafts. We have some excellent reviewers who, together with the authors, have ensured you receive the best quality research reports upon which you can make some decisions about your own teaching.

In order to assist those who are new to reading research articles, the moderator will orient you by providing a summary of the research design and the overall purpose of the research. The discussion will not only focus on how the article can inform your own teaching, but also on opportunities for further research in any form. It will hopefully spark ideas for improving the quality of life in many classrooms! Each article has an abstract for you to read; after all, just as you can’t judge a book by its cover, you can’t judge a research article by its title. The complete articles are all open access, freely available online and downloadable in pdf here. The chosen article will be made available as a pdf and available for download on this page.


Book Club Café: A new recipe for extensive reading

Lesley Speer and Jose Lara

Macquarie University English Language Centre

Introducing and sustaining an Extensive Reading program can be challenging for teachers and for language centres. Generally, whilst it is impractical to devote a great deal of the limited time during class to ‘free reading’, motivating students to read in their own time can be especially difficult. Introducing a reading program can also involve considerable costs and a substantial commitment of time for language centres. This paper describes the introduction of ‘Book Club Café’, an innovative Extensive Reading project, and its implementation through three phases at a university English language centre in Sydney. A practical but flexible model is provided for teachers who wish to implement such a program in their own teaching contexts. Finally, data is provided from an Exploratory Practice study which was conducted on the project in 2015 and which indicates that the program is successful and sustainable over time.


School in the cloud, feet on the ground: Language learning with SOLE

James Pengelley, Independent

Jane Pyper, British Council Hong Kong

This article presents an action research project conducted at a learning centre in Hong Kong in which the merits of Sugata Mitra’s Self-Organised Learning Environments (SOLE) are applied to an ELT context. Mitra has received significant support for his work on SOLE from various sources, including the TED network and Newcastle University, UK, where he oversees the SOLE Central research unit and The School in the Cloud website which aim to provide a radically modernised education to remote children around the world, as well as to those in mainstream urban classrooms by asking them to research ‘big questions’ on the internet with minimal guidance from a teacher. SOLE pedagogy makes some profound claims about the nature of education and characteristics of best practice, and yet there seems to be very little, if any, independent research available, especially in its application to learning a foreign language. We aimed to address this by investigating the quality of classroom discourse emerging during two SOLE sessions with four groups (N=58) in order to evaluate the merits of using SOLE in language learning environments. We conclude that without significant teacher training, learner training and teacher- intervention, the success of SOLE (and minimally invasive pedagogies) is highly context-dependent and limited as a language learning tool.


Experiencing Thai Student Voice from a teacher’s perspective

Anthony Catto, University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce

Anne Burns, University of New South Wales

Student Voice is a concept which seeks to democratise education by empowering students with authority and influence to effect authentic change in educational systems. In so doing, Student Voice aims to appropriate respect and rights for students and allow for the professional development of teachers and administrators. The aim of the narrative self-study reported in this article was to expose an English language teacher, of British background, working at a Thai University to the experience of critical student voices in order to explore the potential for critical reflection, professional development, and transformative learning. The study focuses on the teacher’s reactions to the written critiques of his teaching, authored by three of his students.


An analysis of perceptions: Writing task designers in an English for Academic Purposes (EAP) program and a specific academic discipline

Elaheh Gharesoufloo, Macquarie University

This qualitative case study investigated academic writing in two contexts. The first was writing task designers at an EAP program; the second was the academics in the discipline of Accounting and Corporate Governance. Two participants from each context volunteered their perspectives on the role and function of academic writing in their respective settings. Drawing on Roz Ivanič’s (2004) theoretical framework, data was coded and categorised into discrete concepts. Analysis of participants’ perspectives reflected core concepts encountered in Ivanič’s framework, although some responses combined discourses proposed as separate by Ivanič. The findings are discussed to illuminate potential implications for different stakeholders.


So, without any more fanfare, please cast your vote! Closes Friday May 26, 2016 at 5 pm DST

Your moderator, Phil Chappell (@TESOLatMQ, Executive Editor of the English Australia Journal)