They provide us with the opportunity to meet other teachers face to face and benefit from the knowledge of teacher trainers, authors and experienced teachers. Sometimes, this happens through large events that last an entire weekend and sometimes, it happens through smaller, local events in or near our own school.
I'm always on the look out for such events and here is how I found out about them:
- This sounds obvious but ask your employer to let you know about any upcoming events in your area.
- Subscribe to the mailing list or website of an organisation like the British Council or a local university as they often organise such events.
- Check Twitter - this is always a great source of information!
It's not always possible to go to conferences in person: timing, location and cost all effect our ability to attend but have you ever tried a virtual conference? These are events held entirely online and are usually free! You don't need any special software or technological know-how. All you need to do is log on at the right time, watch and listen!
Here's a list of some of the main online events and links to their websites:
- The Reform Symposium - a semi-annual education conference but with lots of sessions for and by language teachers
- Virtual Round Table - a semi-annual event for language teachers focusing on using technology
- Global Education Conference - held for the first time in 2010
Why stop at attending?
Attending conferences is great but why not try presenting at one? Presenting is not just for 'experts' in the field - most face-to-face conferences want teachers to give practical workshops based on real classroom experience and they accept applications from all comers.
Virtual conferences usually have many sessions running concurrently at all hours of the day (to reach teachers in different time zones) and so they need lots of presenters. If you have a presentation idea, you can literally share it with the world and all without leaving your home!
I have given workshops at the TED conference and presented online for the Global Education Conference and it ia a really great way to think about what you do in class and share your ideas with other teachers.