There has been some energetic blogging going on since the 46th IATEFL conference drew to an end last Friday. For sheer stamina no one can match Chia Suan Chong‘s long diary entries (she’s only got to day 2 and she’s already posted 6 times!), but she’s not the only one. There are lots more….addd them in the comments if you want or let me know and I’ll include more here.
Anyway, I’m not going to go on and on about the wonderful things I heard, or the events I went to or anything like that. I just thought I would pass on 4 things I think I learnt/worried about in Glasgow:
1 Over-officious health and safety people stopped many of us attending talks in the ways we normally do (standing at the back, sitting on the floor etc). It was irritating and inconsistent (some of the conference centre officials let us through). It ruined one whole day for me. On the other hand health and safety rules are there for people’s safety. Were they right to be so doctrinaire?
2 I will never be critical of Twitter again. People like @jemjemgardner, @chiasuan, @sandymillin, @jimscriv immeasurably improved my conference experience by tweeting intelligently and coherently from talks I couldn’t or didn’t go to. I got to be plugged into a whole conference thread (questioning assumptions) that I would otherwise have missed. It was (is) a great way to be a fully involved conference attender. You can be in one talk and simultaneously follow what’s happening in others. Great. Isn’t it?
3 Presenting with no technology at all (except a clip-on mike) is incredibly liberating. It feels comfortable, and strangely ‘honest’. I’m not quite sure what I mean by that (and I love my Keynote and power points etc etc), but it is ‘teacherly’. Would you do it?
4 What we say isn’t necessarily what people hear. For example, at the end of my talk I was attacked big time by two men who assured me that I had been stereotyping Germans and accusing them of being humourless etc. They were very cross. Indeed. Hmm. I did say something about a mismatch in learning culture between touchy-feely ice-breaking Brits and Swiss German students who wanted to get on with lessons rather than have warmers thrown at them at every lesson beginning. But that was more about British teacher insensitiveness than anything else – and not a single German was involved in my comment. In fact the only German I mentioned….hell, what’s the point? I absolutely know I said nothing stereotypical about any nationality; only questioned some assumptions. So I guess those guys heard something from their own heads triggered, I suppose, by something I said. I wonder…..is that the same with students? How do we know they hear what we say and not something else entirely? Is it anything we can control?