As I sit down to write this blog, I realize that my brain has reached its capacity to receive or produce information. I am overwhelmed, over stimulated, and overworked, and yet I feel I have only just scratched the surface of what TESOL 2015 has to offer. Not surprisingly, this is what you will hear from most first-time attendees and even returning attendees.
With more than 1,100 sessions and approximately 6,000 educators from around the world, TESOL 2015 is doing exactly what it promises—crossing borders, building bridges. Metro Toronto Convention Centre is a kaleidoscope today—a kaleidoscope of people of different ethnicities, backgrounds, and countries, and yet there is sense of camaraderie, a sense of belonging in the air. Crossing borders, building bridges.
I recognize already that this event will be career changing for me, and armed with the experience of this year, I plan to attack it again next year. I would recommend this platform to all my fellow educators, and I provide here some tips to make the most of your TESOL conference:
Plan before you arrive: A little planning goes a long way when it comes to attending a conference of this magnitude. Visit the website, download the mobile app, download the program book, familiarize yourself with the topics of the conference.
Have a focus: Try to narrow down the field. There is a surplus of choices in TESOL conferences, and sometimes it gets very difficult to choose. One way to solve this is to know what you want to target, what you want to take away. This might require some reflection on your part, but it would be time well spent.
Arrive early, if possible one day early: There is a lot to take in when you first arrive—new city, new faces, varied accents, and tons of information. It is very likely that you will exhaust and overwhelm yourself on the first day. Give yourself time to navigate through the venue and find your footing.
Make a schedule—but be flexible: With so many sessions overlapping each other, it is important to make a schedule. However, make sure you have some flexibility in your roster—there might be a cancellation, or you just might be too exhausted to take in more information. Another reason is that not all workshops will be tailored to your needs, or be what you expected. In these cases, having a plan B helps. If you are planning to leave, sit near the entrance of the room, so you do not invite attention during your escape. It is also wise to note the room numbers of consecutive sessions. You want to give yourself enough time to go from one room to another.
Set some time aside to explore the other areas: The TESOL conference is an opportunity galore—explore it. Its scope goes beyond workshops and presentations. TESOL 2015 has a Job MarketPlace, an Electronic Village, and exhibitor section. Set some time aside to survey these areas as well.
Network, network, network: Before I came to the conference, my more experienced colleagues told me that one of the most important aspects of conferences is networking. Meet new professionals, share ideas, exchange business cards—you never know what you might learn or find.
Have fun: And finally, don’t forget to have fun. If you are coming to this conference, chances are you love what you are doing. Enjoy the process and savour every moment!
Yes, indeed. Mapping out the sessions you’d like to attend is important since in the weeks leading up to the convention changes are often made. Visiting the site beforehand is a good idea too since participants need to get to sessions quickly in different areas and the floor diagrams do not always convey the time involved to actually get to a room. Since the program book was heavy and I did not want to tote it around, I kept my session choices (with alternatives in case of cancellations) on a sheet of paper and used that. Internet access was slow at times so the Mobile App did not always respond.
Some great advice, Navnish! You’re only feeling overwhelmed because you want to see and do it all. A true sign of a passionate professional. So glad you enjoyed this experience and, even while you were busy learning, you were able to teach something to your blog readers as well! 🙂
I felt as if I were there reading this post, Navnish. Great pointers for those attending for the first time. Great feeling to have someone from the LTC representing. Enjoy the conference.