JALT 2010 was a blast according to just about everyone. Hats off to the conference team for pulling off another great event. And that’s the feeling that everyone I know left the conference with. So for those of you who didn’t attend, what is there to be taken away from such an event? Well, teaching tips, new friendships and a little thing called networking are but a few of what I left with.
This year’s three plenary speakers were both theoretical and practical. Nicky Hockly’s approach to technology in the classroom was both fun and meaningful. She passed out a list of very useful websites that can be exploited in many pedagogical ways. Tim Murphey embedded both a phrase and a melody in everyone’s head, “Collaboratively Energizing my Imagination” (to the tune of supercalifragolisticexpialidoshish – don’t even say it once or it’ll be there forever) while offering by demonstration, a wonderful approach to working with students to learn a language. I missed Alan Maley's but have read and respected his work for years now.
Three cheers for the coffee stand in the entrance. I hung out there, convalesced there and held a number of planned and serendipitous meetings there. One was a new business opportunity, another was sharing ideas for using 10 minutes of music to warm-up an adult TOEIC class, and another was with a guy I met in the elevator who has created a great note-taking system (and notebook) for university students.
The other great place to meet people was at the free breakfast in my cheap hotel. I met two interesting teachers who I had a lot in common with. It was as simple as noticing that we were both looking at our conference schedules for the day, and then offering up the initial, “any definite plans to see something today?” and we were off…
The opening OUP reception was a beehive (a hot one!) of activity, full of joy and anticipation for the weekend. People were smiling and laughing, catching up and meeting new colleagues. There was even an informal “Tweet Up” organized by JALT friends on Twitter. That event certainly got everyone off on the right foot.
For me, the other big two networking events were the Cengage sponsored, “Be the Change” fundraiser at Shooters bar (the place where I left my voice AND forgot my pencil case – of all things!) and the MASH-CUE party at Tiger Café on Sunday night. These two events were shockingly successful, mostly because the people who attended were all there for the same reason – to meet people, to share ideas, and to collaboratively energize each other’s imagination. Geez, it’s gonna play over and over in my head all day now…
If any of this sounds like you want some, come check out the 2010 Kansai ETJ Expo this Sunday at Seifu High School in Osaka. If you want to experience a similar buzz among teachers and other professionals in education, this is the time and place to start.