I have been to TESOL Conventions before, and there are so many opportunities to connect to people, but as a shy person, those opportunities may seem daunting at first. With so much happening—from the continual book fair to the presentations to the Electronic Village—it is easy to think that TESOL is just too big to really engage in. However, here are five introvert-friendly ways to engage at TESOL 2020 that will help you connect.
1. ELT Leadership Management Certificate Program
Professional learning and development are goals of mine at TESOL, and the ELT Leadership Management Certificate Program enabled me to connect with people one-on-one. There are specific sessions you can choose from, and the sessions you choose have very like-minded individuals attending. It is an impersonal and professional setting that will allow you the opportunity to connect and help you grow professionally at the same time.
2. Visit the Electronic Village
The Electronic Village and Technology Showcase is a unique opportunity to see the growth of technology in the education field. Since most presenters want to give you this information, it is easy to tackle this task on your own, venturing in and out presentations/demonstrations, learning new ideas, and being able to gather a lot of takeaways that your educational institute can use.
3. Choose Presentations Wisely
There are so many presentations, from the graduate research to new developments happening all over the world. Before the day begins, map out a trajectory of the presentations you want to visit for that day, get to all presentations at least 5 minutes early to get a good seat, and take notes while in the presentation as many presenters leave their contact information for future communication and collaboration.
4. Tea With Distinguished TESOLers
Attending a Tea With Distinguished TESOLers session is a very light-hearted way to connect to Convention attendees where there are not so many people in one area. The teas make it personal and intimate to help you connect, ask questions, and have a better grasp of the distinguished TESOLers that are making great strides in education. Also, as an introvert, sometimes it is good to go and listen to what these professionals are doing while having a soothing cup of tea away from the crowds in the convention center.
5. Explore the City
As a current Denver resident, I know that there is so much to see in this city, especially around the convention center. You can take a walk to the 16th Street Mall, or you can explore Larimer Square and buy a slice of Spring Fling cake from The Market. There are not only places to shop, but small cafés to help rejuvenate you away from the TESOL crowds. If you want to explore further, there are bike tours, ghost tours, and bus tours of the city that can give you respite to really reflect on the information that TESOL is presenting.
TESOL is a great convention, and there are so many opportunities to connect or to do individualized learning. As people in the education industry, I find that TESOL has so many opportunities that lend itself to introverts like myself to either be in my comfort zone or step out of it a bit. I hope to see other fellow introverts at TESOL 2020 in Denver, Colorado this year.
Samantha Butler is a culturally and linguistically diverse education instructional dean for Aurora Public Schools who has taught in the United States and China, focusing on strategies that work with English second-language students. Throughout her career, she has had a passion for empowering students in their English ability and helping content teachers do the same.