Teacher Development - Conferences -Face to Face or Online
It is an unending experiment and it is an ever elasticity of mind since teaching leads to education.
How far conferences do contribute to teacher development is a rather debatable issue. Some ELT experts like N Prabhu feel a teacher grows only in the class room. I feel a teacher grows by experience, experimentation, innovation and intuition. I feel that great teachers like Aristotle, Plato, Bertrand Russell, Sarvepalli Radha Krishnan and Emerson would have been great even if they had not attende any conferences. In fact, they could not have the luxury of attending online conferences.They were great any way. Now let us come to our point.
Which is better for teacher development?
Attending a conference face-to-face is like watching a favourite movie in the theatre whereas attending a conference online is like watching a routine film on Television at home. Attending a face-to-face conference has got obvious advantages. The participants can interact with the speakers, co-participants, experts and get the feed back instantly. Even before or after the seminar or conference the participants who share the room can discuss the topic and exchange their views. But it is not possible to attend conferences face to face too often because of the financial constraints, academic and administrative hazards, the availability of time, the patience and ability to travel and the condition of the physical health. In case of conferences online, we can surmount all the above problems and can become good autotelic teachers.
As far as my personal experience is concerned, I have attende two International conference and two national work shops but I have not attended even a single webinar or online conference even though I have access to internet. Nevertheless, I have written many blogs and read others’ blogs on Teaching English, which helped me to become good teacher trainer and resource person, if not a better teacher. I think one can be a better teacher trainer than better teacher in the real class room. I was able teach English at the Inter level very well even without any formal teacher training. Now I teach English at the secondary level after undergoing many courses of formal training at the reputed institutes, attending many refresher courses , attending many face to face conferences and workshops.. I feel I was a good teacher and I am a good teacher. So the instinct is more important than the training or the conferences. However, no teacher can say that they will not attend any conferences face-to-face or online. Every teacher should be a good netizen and an autotelic teacher. That is the way I have developed as good teacher trainer and resource person. One can not close the windows when the rays of knowledge are passing through. We should move with the time and the tide.