It’s been an interesting day. I’ve learnt a lot about things you should and shouldn’t do with regard to conferences.
One of the things you shouldn’t do is pack your suitcase literally as you’re walking out the door to get into the car and go to the train station. I have no idea where my phone is – I hope that geeklet number two took a liking to it this morning and has carefully stowed it with the other toys. But I can’t say for sure.
This leads me to the second thing you shouldn’t do with regard to conferences – involve toddlers in any way shape or form. Getting from geek central to Harrogate has been a four day event in itself which had two main highlights: geeklet number one refusing to sleep the night before we flew, resulting in geeklet number 1 and myself traipsing down to the hotel bar, which was then used as an impromptu obstacle course for approximately an hour and a half before geeklet number 1 announced that she was tired. She duly fell asleep ten minutes before we had to get up. The second main highlight was geeklet number two’s refusal to wear a seatbelt during the landing from the Gatwick to Newscastle portion of the trip and the stewards’ somewhat pointed announcement “Passengers are reminded that they should remain seated with their seatbelts fastened and that parents of small children should ensure their children do the same.” As the parent of the only toddler out of their seat, screaming fit to burst and attempting to launch himself over the back of the chairs and charge the cockpit, I rather felt this may have been directed at us. Stewards are reminded not to be such sarcastic sods and should ensure toddler valium is readily available in the event it is needed.
One of the things you should do is write your presentation well in advance. I had hoped, of course, to get it done months ago, but here we are with the conference due to start tomorrow and as yet my talk remains unfinished. I’m led to believe, through careful questioning, that I may not be the only one in this particular boat. When I say “finished” what I mean is “written” – and I really shouldn’t be writing this post right now, I should be writing the presentation. But it’s late so…
One of the other things you should do is put yourself about a bit. This is my first IATEFL and while I know a lot of the people here, I only know them through social media connections, mostly being Twitter and Facebook. I am however, fortunate to be good friends with the inestimable Andreas Grundtvig, who has this amazing technique of actually introducing himself and talking to people! Whereas I tend to hover on the periphery thinking to myself “Is that so and so? It looks a bit like them, but maybe it isn’t so perhaps I shouldn’t bother them.” Andreas just says things like “Hi” and “I’m Andreas”. This is a revelatory technique and one I hope to adopt in full force tomorrow.
Three things I learnt today:
(1) Not to drop your laptop in front of 500 people queuing for a free lunch.
(2) You can take the teacher out of the Young Learner classroom, but you can’t take the young learner classroom out of the teacher. Carol Read’s welcoming comments this evening were a masterclass. I think she could convince us all to go to war for her. You know, just in case TESOL invade or something. You can watch an interview with her here: http://iatefl.britishcouncil.org/2014/sessions/2014-04-01/interview-carol-read
(3) Everyone here is genuinely trying to help. I mean everyone really, really, really wants to make tefl better. At least I think everyone I’ve met so far does. Tomorrow of course, we get into the violent disagreements as to how….
Finally – it looks like the online portion of IATEFL 2014 is getting up and running – I think some of the sessions are going to start going up tomorrow, but check out the interviews with some of the key speakers that have already been done and posted on the website: http://iatefl.britishcouncil.org/2014/interviews/all