Guest blog 16 – Emma Herrod on attending first conferences…

I’m very pleased that Emma Herrod has agreed to write this post for me, which contains some pertinent thoughts about attending your first ELT conference, and how twitter can help if you’re aiming to turn up alone. And much more.

I first ‘met’ Emma on twitter, where she has become a very individual and amusing presence. I met her in real life at her first conference, IATEFL Harrogate in April.

Herrod does Harrogate – a rookie conference-goer’s reflections

If you could attend just one ELT conference, which would it be? @EHerrod, Wed 14th Oct via Tweetdeck

About six month ago, I posted this question on Twitter to my network of ELT followers.  My network was pretty small at the time. I received one response:

IATEFL! Next one is Harrogate April 2010 @kenwilsonlondon, Wed 14th Oct via Twitterrific

I took a look at the conference website, perused the programme from Cardiff 2009 and was a tad star-struck at the list of presenters I saw.  Then there was the ticket price.  I’m a self employed teacher at this moment in time.  It’s not the ideal situation in terms of professional development perhaps, but it allows me to be at home with my son Thomas until he attends school on a full-time basis in September this year.  The relevance of my situation here is that as I have no actual employer, and therefore all costs incurred from attending this conference would have to be paid for out of my own pocket. “Gulp”.  That’s the ticket, hotel, train, and food/drink.

But I thought, if Ken thinks this is THE one to go to, I’ll give it a go and make the most of it.  After all, I can just go to this one and say I did it. I don’t have to go to another one, do I??

Scott Thornbury is now following you on Twitter

Lindsay Clandfield is now following you on Twitter

Pete Sharma is now following you on Twitter

Barak Obama is now following you on Twitter

Until the Barak Obama follow-back, I was oblivious to the notion of ‘auto-follow’.  My heart sank.  So Obama doesn’t really want to be my friend?  He doesn’t want to hear about my Starbucks-based escapades?  Never mind – I was soon over the spurning and assured that my ELT VIPs weren’t involved in any ‘auto-following’, I proudly saw my follow list grow and grow over the next six months:  20, 50, 100, 300 … ” Where did 300 people come from who want to listen to what I have to say? – they’ll realise soon that I’m a big fraud” … and the numbers kept growing.  So did the names: Jeremy Harmer, Scott Thornbury, Gavin Dudeney, Karenne Silvester, Sara Hannam.

“Oh s**t … now I’m done for … it’s just a matter of time before the truth of my inexperience comes out.”

As it happens, I wasn’t exposed. Rather to my surprise, this network of people was interacting with me; re-tweeting, laughing with/at me (I’m never 100% sure about this one), answering my questions, sharing their own experiences and supporting me when things didn’t go quite as I’d planned:

..of course email whenever you want. Sorry to hear the lesson didn’t go well. Let’s talk it through : )
A very lovely Tweeter – Greece

By the time IATEFL came around, I found myself with a supportive community of like-minded people, some of whom had become good friends, albeit in a virtual environment.  Until my ‘virtual staffroom’ had realised itself, I had, if truth be told, been dreading attending the conference.  There was the trek up there, not knowing anyone, traipsing from talk to talk like Billy-No-Mates.

As the tweets began to come in about where people were going to be staying, what they would be presenting and suggestions about when and where to have a tweet-up … oh – actually no, this wasn’t something to be dreaded.  I would go so far as to say I was bloody excited!  I didn’t feel I would be a solitary delegate.  I had people to meet, talks I had promised to attend, if ‘merely’ for the moral support of my fellow Tweeters.  And it felt good…

Waiting for my train to York.  So looking forward to seeing everyone @EHerrod, Thurs 8th Apr via UberTwitter

So the day arrived. I can comment really only on two elements of the mind-numbing journey from Reading to Harrogate.  Firstly the feeling of apprehension in the pit of my stomach and which Ken alluded to in his post.  I can only liken it to a blind date – except my ‘date’ was about 30 people who weren’t buying me dinner.  Secondly, upon boarding the train in York, bound for Harrogate, the train began to fill up with serious-looking people carrying suitcases and wearing A LOT of corduroy.  I had thought that brown corduroy was an education generalisation.  Alas no, it was alive and well and served to identify its clan of wearers all of whom were, I was sure, bound for this teaching conference.

On the bus to the conference centre now @EHerrod, Thurs 8th Apr via UberTwitter

@EHerrod #iatefl tweet-world is waiting to meet you with bated breath @kenwilsonlondon, Thurs 8th Apr via Twitterrific

Allow me to digress for a moment.

I appreciate that the word ‘volcano’ is not one we like to discuss right now, but (and I know it’s a long-shot) to anyone involved in town planning – who ever thought it was a good idea to build a town on a volcano?  This causes weak and venerable city types (me) to have to climb muscle-tearing slopes just to go to the toilet.  Please keep my plight in mind for your future projects.  Thank-you.

If I could have arranged slow motion and Tchaikovsky Click here to play appropriate first-time-twitter-meeting music, I would have done so.  However even without the atmospherics the moments I met each of my friends from Twitter will be moments I hope to always remember. There really isn’t anything like a Twitter hug and I highly recommend them if you get the opportunity.

Part of Emma’s ICTP (Instant Conference Tweet Posse) at IATEFL Harrogate 🙂

Over the next four days, more slow-motion hugs followed, together with chats, drinks with good people, talks by good people and inspirational educators and tear-inducing funny and moving moments.

On reflection it really was quite exhausting!  But I think reflection is important after an intense conference like IATEFL and I spent much of the nightmare (due to numerous train cancellations) journey home considering what I had heard and seen and how I might implement some of the suggestions in my teaching.  I am still thinking about what I will take away with me a month on, but here is what I have come up with so far:

1. Cemented friendships

Virtual friendships are wonderful, wonderful things.  I’m angered when I hear people say that friendships conducted online do not have as much worth or substance as face to face relationships.  I believe them to merely have a different energy but to be equally as valuable and fulfilling.  Add to this unique dynamic however, the opportunity to put a real face to a name and to interact face to face, and you have the makings of something truly extra-special.  Perhaps it is a trust, a familiarity or something in the body language.  I’m no social psychologist, but I know if I feel comfortable in people’s company, then it’s special.  IATEFL was full of such ‘specials’ and I feel thankful that I had the opportunity to cement the friendships I knew already existed.

2.   A greater understanding of my network’s areas of interest.

Seeing some of my virtual staffroom give presentations and workshops, I was frequently filled with a mixture of feelings: awe, fascination, pride, empathy.  To be honest, in a couple of the smaller talks I went to, the overwhelming feeling was one of confusion – but that’s another story.  I know a little more about who to contact in which areas, and equally who to pass information on to if I find something of interest in their field.  Who knows, tomorrow I may professionally need that contact who works in Army English.

3.  Sympathy for the rookie conference-goer

Perhaps one of the most constructive things I will take away from Harrogate 2010 is a sense of how tough it could have been for me as a first-time delegate and relatively new teacher.  Had I not had a presence on Twitter, I fear my reflective journey home may have been quite different and certainly not as enthusiastic.

In her excellent plenary at the conference, Tessa Woodward referred to Hubermann’s study which identified a series of professional life-cycle stages, which most teachers seem to go through.  Those teachers who in their first one to three years of teaching Hubermann suggests, are going through a difficult stage, characterised by such feelings as ‘survival’, ‘insecurity’, ‘sense of reality shock’ and ‘viewing of themselves as a fraud’.

Add to that the often long journey to a conference, the crowds of VIPs, the not knowing anyone, the eating breakfast, lunch and dinner on your own, and you can put together and very good case for recommending a new teacher never goes near an IATEFL conference venue in their first three years.  I believe this would be a real shame and new teachers can do a lot to further themselves personally and professionally by attending.

But this left me thinking – you can only recommend something, you cannot force people to participate – so why am I so concerned by it?  I don’t like that feeling.  It normally means I have to do something about it (see point four).

4.  What is the something I/we can do to help new teachers build their network so that ‘survival’ and ‘insecurity’ at such an event doesn’t have to be the norm?  How can I/we support them in their first stage of the life-cycle?

I would like to simply list these thoughts below, as they are still just that, thoughts to be developed:

– Could new teachers be identifiable at IATEFL by a different coloured badge/lanyard?  Would this encourage the more experienced teachers and VIPs to walk over and check on them, chat to them, find out what talks they are going to and engage with them?

– A buddy system.  Buddies volunteer to ‘look after’ a new teacher for the duration of the conference.  I’m not thinking hand-holding (unless mutually agreed by new teacher and buddy!) rather, advice on talks to attend, offer of attending dinner with the buddy’s PLN etc.  Just so they don’t feel so on their own.

– Talks at the CELTA stage about the value of Twitter and social networking so that more teachers can attend from a position similar to mine.  I am happy to be involved on a local level in the UK if anyone wants me too.

– A PLN just for new teachers (the promotion of which would be very much linked to point three).  I would like to take my uncomfortable feeling and use it to set up a PLN which can help new teachers in those first couple of years.  Is it overly wishful thinking to hope that a supportive network might go some way to seeing new teachers stay on longer in the profession, rather than merely thinking ‘I’m trying being a teacher’ as Tessa noted?  Perhaps this new PLN could reserve a block of rooms so that all new teachers are in one hotel for IATEFL.  A talk at the conference just for them with tips on how to ‘survive’?

All just thoughts, but I hope that by putting them out there, some suggestions and opinions will come back and they can begin to take on a life of their own.

So I leave you with those, my thoughts and reflections on a special time in Harrogate.  Thank-you for hugging me, for making me feel welcome and part of your group.  And, for those people I didn’t yet meet, I’m excited at the thought of spending time with you in Brighton, 2011!


I live in the UK, about 20 miles from London, with my little companion Thomas, aged four.  I teach English to all kinds of people.  Business professionals who are learning English for work, teenagers from abroad who have re-located here with their parents, students who moved to the UK for a few months, fell in love, and now need the language to live and argue with their new husband/wife. There are so many stories, no two students, or their English needs seem to be the same.  That is why I love what I do.

Some other things you might care to know about me…

–     I drink far too much coffee for my own good and frequent coffee shops on a regular basis.

–     I own five pairs of red shoes.

–     I knit a mean tea cosy.

–     I am terrified of bugs/mini beasts of any kind

–     Thomas and I love doing Origami (or Mr Garmi as he calls it)

–     Worst job I ever had was cleaning toilets in an old people’s home – I think ELT is a little better!


43 thoughts on “Guest blog 16 – Emma Herrod on attending first conferences…

  1. Nice post Emma. Glad you enjoyed IATEFL. Just a couple of thoughts: there is already a session led by Susan Barduhn on How to get the most out of the conference. She correctly noticed there were a lot of first-time conference goers who needed a steer. It’s not quite so inclusive as what you’re suggesting, but it’s a start. Secondly, IATEFL is run by volunteers, and a lot of us have done time in various positions on IATEFL committees (I was president for two years, VP for another two). The association needs not just your insights but your help to run excellent initiatives as the ones you suggest, and new people to take over at some time in the future from the people who run the association now.

    And despite your initial misgivings, it’s great that you had a good time.

    1. Hi Simon,
      Thank-you for reading and taking the time to comment.

      I do hope the post doesn’t come across as at all critical of the excellent work done by the IATEFL team. I was thinking more about some personal and professional development sessions for new teachers, rather than the orientation of the conference – but you’re right, the session is an excellent start. I did speak to a few people who went to Susan’s session and found it very helpful indeed. I was stuck on a bus the first two days coming in from a little village a few miles away and managed to miss them. By the Saturday, I’d figured it all out I think 🙂

      Perhaps a SIG-style program suggestion might help them. Not necessarily drawing up a whole program just for them, but perhaps a page in the program “New Teacher? IATEFL Recommends the following sessions”. They don’t of course have to attend but it might give new teachers some focus on what might help them.

      I’m convinced that the workshops at IATEFL are a brilliant platform for personal and professional development and perhaps a couple of additional workshops just for them too might help. I would be very happy to do a workshop on creating your own virtual staffroom and talking about the benefits this can have. In fact I’d be happy to do a workshop on anything for them if if helps 🙂

      Other areas I know have been a learning curve for me or other new teachers I know have been things like discipline in the classroom, spending hours lesson planning, how to teach one to one (this isn’t covered very much at all at CELTA level – the basics would be a valuable session IMHO – and adapting coursebooks. I’m thinking out loud really and I know it’s not possible to cater for everyone at such an event.

      Regarding your point about being involved, it’s something I have thought about and would be very interested in when the time and need arises.

      Thank-you again for your valuable comments.

      1. No, it certainly didn’t come over as critical, only constructive. Everything you say makes good sense. I’m sure the association would welcome help from friends like you.

  2. Hello Emma!
    It was my first conference too and I totally identify with what you say from financial issues to meeting all these Giants of ELT. Hope we will meet again in future conferences!

    1. Hey Anna,

      Thanks for reading and I’m glad you were able to relate to some of my thoughts – it’s not just me then 🙂

      Are you intending coming to Brighton?

      All the best

  3. Great post, Emma, nice to see the conference too through someone else’s eyes, but those twitter hugs will stay with me as one of the fondest memories of this conference.

    And the joy I saw in people’s eyes on meeting me and other friends in person. That was truly wonderful.

    We’re seeing new kinds of affinities and friendships evolving here and they are seriously not to be laughed at… like some child’s “imaginary friends”, a comment some people often make, followed by “get out there and meet some real people, make some real friends”….

    The cost of making it to Harrogate is really an issue for anyone who is not sponsored by a publisher or large institution. It is really too expensive for a teacher and although, in retrospect, I do not regret at all spending this money, I wish there were some way to make the cost more bearable.

    I hope you will try to make it to next year’s IATEFL in Brighton too… I am already trying to save up!

    Life is too short to be missing out on such a good and happy buzz, even if it’s only once a year.

    Thanks for this heartwarming post.


    1. Hi Marisa,

      Urg yes the “get out there and meet some real friends” is also one of my pet hates. As I said in my post, I really was so surprised at the “Twitter love” and it causes me to so look forward to future events where I can meet some of those I couldn’t see at IATEFL.

      I’ve also been surprised (perhaps showing my ignorance) that so many people have commented about raising the costs themselves. It is tough when there’s little enough money already – but like you I don’t regret it one bit – I think it’s worth every penny!

      Thank-you for you kind words yet again Marisa 🙂

  4. Emma,
    I enjoyed reading your thoughts. I really enjoyed meeting you! You are terribly funny and such a great friend! I will see you on Monday when you Skype with my class! I hope to one day do Origami with Thomas and you over a cup of tea on that mean tea cosy!

    1. Hey Shelly, lovely lady!

      Thanks for popping by and commenting.

      The feeling of meeting is obviously mutual.

      Very much looking forward to your class Skype on Monday – bring it on!

      I will have to post some pictures of our Origami moments – they really are quite amusing 🙂

      Emma x

  5. This is great, Emma!

    It was my first international conference as well, and one of the moments I’ll never forget was when I was wandering around the center and was hit by a big smile and a warm Hiiii!!! That felt so good, cause I was ready to go anonymous throughout the whole thing. At the time I was really a newby on twitter and didn’t know many people, now I’m still a newby, but have interacted a bit more : )

    I’m really looking forward to meeting some of these great people in Brighton.

    “I had thought that brown corduroy was an education generalisation.” – This could be a line in a Woody Allen film, totally loved it.

    1. Heya Willy

      I’m glad you enjoyed the post. I’m amazed actually that so many people have since messaged me saying that this was their first IATEFL.

      I really glad that whoever the person was, gave you such a smile and greeting to remember. It really does make all the difference doesn’t it? I’ll NEVER forget being randomly hugged by Pete Sharma – really very funny!

      Did you also have any funny experiences where people you really didn’t know came up and told you something weird? I laughed and laughed when someone came and threw their arms around me and said “I woke up really late”. No idea to this day who they were!

      I will look forward to meeting you in Brighton then! 🙂

      All the best

  6. I’ve found Twitter very useful and a fantastic experience… I do wonder though whether it’s for everyone – Not in some kind of elitist way… just that it is time consuming and you do have to sift through it quite a lot. I think that there is so much here, it should definitely be recommended to new teachers – it’s just not going to be everyone’s cup of tea.

    As to Tweet-ups… I’ve only had the pleasure of one – and it was definitely very positive…. but there have been a few rumblings recently, maybe of people expecting too much… I’m hoping to have many more, but there is an interesting post on Karenne Sylvester’s blog about the PLN gettting too personal – it’s definitely worth a read

    1. You are right Phil, I’m sure it’s not for everyone. I have many friends who simply will not go near it – but with them, it’s because they don’t really see what’s in it for them. It’s another thing to distract them from work in their eyes. These people are on LinkedIn and Facebook, though.

      I find Karenne’s article a very good read (thanks for pointing it out to me – I had missed it) and I will comment on it shortly.

      I actually don’t have any issue myself with my PLN being personal – as long as it is on my terms. I have people who I share issues with from my personal life, and others with whom this would be totally wrong. So I think it’s about identifying the people you feel you can trust (this perhaps becomes easier once you meet them) or who it’s appropriate to share with and being mindful of what you put out there in the online world.

      Regarding the sifting of lots of information, this is something I was really bothered by to begin with. I like to feel that I’ve read everything and seen everything – heaven forbid there may be a morsel of information I might have missed!
      Do you used any bookingmarking tools – they really are great for people like us 🙂 I use Diigo so I can read over some of the links people have recommended.

      Thanks for your comments – very nice of you to have taken the time.


  7. Hi Emma

    I think we all remember the first conferences we go to – they can be terrifying – everyone else seems to know each other. I just wanted to say (as at ex IATEFL committee member) that conference committees do spend hours discussing ways of welcoming newcomers into the fold, and have tried lots of different ways over the years. The badge idea is good, but has its drawbacks – I remember going to a major conference in Asia a few years ago. As a first timer at that particular conference I was given a yellow badge, and the result was that it acted as a sort of repellent. People would look at my badge and steer clear. I could walk down corridors and it seemed to create a bubble around me, as if I was contaminated in some way. To be fair it did work some of the time, but mostly I felt ignored. In the evenings I had dinner by myself. And I was an experienced conference goer. So it’s not easy.

    My favourite way to include newcomers was one Tessa introduced a few years ago, which was simply to ask people who had been to the conference before to put up their hands. Then she just asked us to go and talk to people without hands in the air. It worked a treat.

    1. Hi Evan,

      Thank-you for taking the time to comment so usefully on the post. It’s really very interesting to hear from people such as yourself who have been so involved in the conference organisation – just the kind of feedback I was hoping for!

      I think your experience of the yellow badge is very interesting but I was saddened to hear it not only didn’t have the desired effect, but lead people to actually avoid you. I found the atmosphere at IATEFL to have been so welcoming – do you think it might have been a cultural issue?

      Tessa’s idea is a brilliant one – encouraging people to go and talk to the first time goers. This is a brilliant interaction. My only issue might be that it doesn’t last throughout a conference of the size of IATEFL, where you’re unlikely to see those people who said ‘hello’ again. Was this the case, or did it cause people to feel supported through the experience?

      I think also I need to be clearer about looking after first time conference goers and new teachers. There is a big difference obviously but my experience was as someone who falls into both camps. There is there an extra need to nurture and support, not just make the first time goer not feel as though they are on their own, but be instrumental to the new teachers experience of their professional and personal development.

      I am 33 and a mum and have been through different workplaces and situations so perhaps sometimes feel I am still in the first stage, sometimes in the second or third. They are as Tessa suggested, moveable. But how does a newly-qualified 20-something teacher with no experience of networking, conferences, SIGs etc go about orientating themselves? No answers still from me yet 🙂

      Thank-you again for your comments – they are very welcome indeed.


  8. Emma, you really ought to blog yourself. I’ve just posted with allusion to Tessa Woodward’s plenary and Huberman’s study (it’s what my blog is named after!), but you have really pinpointed some solutions here. I remember you doing the same thing in a comment on my blog once before – after my waffle, an answer!

    Thanks so much for this – more please?

    ; P

    1. I agree that Emma should blog – there’s a really strong identity in the way you write, EH – and I thought that from your tweets before I met you! The decision to blog is fraught with doubt – eg is it an act of pure narcissism?

      Put thoughts like that to one side – the public will decide.

      1. Thank-you Ken, Karenne and Darren,

        The blogging thing has been going through my mind a lot, and as a result of writing this (and one I am just finishing off for Barbara Sakamoto) I’m feeling that it’s something I might just do. Watch this space.

        Thank you for your encouraging words…they work wonders!


  9. Hi, Emma

    Great insights into the first time conference goer’s blues. Although I have been in ELT for many years, it was the first IATEFL for me too, and I could easily relate to most of your thoughts.

    Your ideas about helping new teachers and first time attendees are really interesting!

    And I loved meeting you!

    1. Likewise Vicky! Thank you.

      I’m glad the post was tangible for you – hurray for our Virtual Staffrooms 🙂

      All the best,

  10. Hey ya Emma… I’m never going to forget you saying:

    OMG I just had a fag with Scott Thornbury because… basically, I am “way 2 cool” to say something like that myself but OMG we were outside smoking with the V – I – P.

    (Sorry, Scott, don’t read this).

    AND ABSOLUTELY, CAN I JUST CHIME IN WITH THE OTHERS and say you absolutely should blog, you’re a cracking good read – why not do a blog for “on being a new TEFL teacher – explorations and experiments” – and rope in Amanda and Callie too so that we can all come along, reminisce and comment on how crap and crazy and wonderful it was when we were starting to teach too…

    🙂 Love you lots, Twitter Virtual Hug,


  11. Yo Emma!

    Do you remember when we were both in Graham Stanley’s session before we had actually met and were trying to tweet our exact whereabouts?! I knew you were on my radar but couldn’t quite pin you down and knowing you were in the same room as me was so funny and full of anticipation!

    You are amazing on Twitter, Emma, but times that by 100 in real life. You have great ideas and solutions to problems that really should be shared. You help people in many ways: you give clarity to those who can’t see the wood for the trees and then sort the wheat from the chaff.

    Sooo looking forward to meeting you again and hope it won’t be too long!

    Loads of love n hugs

    Amanda 🙂

    1. My goodness, Amanda –

      Emma ‘gives clarity to those who can’t see the wood for the trees and then sorts the wheat from the chaff’. Presumably whilst keeping her nose to the grindstone, her shoulder to the wheel, and keeping the wolf from the door with her free hand.

      Clearly, a giant in our midst!

      1. Ha!!! She’s a little trooper! Think I need to get out of the countryside more often. Just can’t help drawing from the life that surrounds me!! 😉

      2. This reply Ken could be used as an authentic text in a lesson on English idioms 🙂

  12. Hey Emma,

    Thanks for a great post and I mean that.

    I haven’t done the ‘big international conference’ thing yet myself – the closest I have got is to the Language Show.

    I’m with you on the cost being a major factor for me as to whether I go to a conference. I was toying with the idea of Harrogate for a day, but realised it would have been logistically impossible – an 11 hour round trip plus a night in a hotel to get to half a morning of the conference, was unfortunately a no-go for me. Though I have been thinking, and your post reaffirms for me that it’s something I’d like to do in the future. I just need to be better at organising myself. Brighton here I come!

    On a related point, I met up with people from Twitter twice now, but low scale compared to your experience. First one person from Twitter then a different person, then 3, and I think for me this is a much better way to go about it. I’d be so nervous landing a big conference and suddenly finding myself face-to-face with a whole bunch of people I’ve been in touch with on Twitter. That seems like too much to me, though I guess I won’t know until I go through the experience myself.

    Might bleach my hair for Brighton…


  13. Just a final thought about support groups for anyone passing …

    Emma talks about a PLN just for new teachers. It seems to me that twitter already offers that. And the advantage of posting a new teacher kind of question is that a lot of experienced teachers will read it.

    But twitter, 140 characters etc etc (although the answers often link to something more substantial, of course)

    What about some kind of new teachers’ site? A wiki, perhaps? This is where I need someone tech-clever to fill in the details.

    1. I think a wiki is the ideal medium here. It offers a place where resources can be pooled. I think Twitter would continue to support in the way it does now.

      The next ‘issue’ I see is spreading the word to new teachers and the obvious place seems to be at the end of CELTA courses. Right…who do we know:)

  14. Hi Ken,

    A wiki is not that difficult to set up but who would have the time to maintain it is the next question.

    I would be very happy to set one up and it would not be long before the ‘new teachers’ could mentor the next generation of new teachers, I think.

    Brainstorm a name for the wiki and it’s done!


    1. Me too – more than happy to maintain something and help get this up and running! Exciting!

  15. This was such a great post! It makes me want to go to a conference! I had often been hesitant of ever going to one for the same reasons you post — and of the uncertainty I’d get something out of that my school would actually allow me to use. Knowing there might be fellow twitterers there would definitely make it less frightening! Of course, going to England for an EFL conference when I teach ESL might be more of a joy ride than anything else 🙂

    As for a wiki, I’ve been teaching just 2.5 years now but don’t think I’d join a space just for new teachers because I like interacting with folks with more experience than I have. But I can imagine it being very useful for others.

    1. Hey Ms Flecha (sorry I’m not sure of your first name),

      I’m so glad my post has inspired you to think about going to a conference. I can (as you can probably tell) highly recommend it.

      Defiantly let us all know if you do decide to come to Brighton and we will of course make sure you’re with us and have some company 🙂

      Finally, thank-you for your feedback on the wiki idea. My thoughts on this have been that I would hope it would be a facility which would be very much supported too by experienced teachers – guest posts, helpful tips, a lesson plan or two so that it wasn’t just a forum for inexperienced teachers to have a moan. No no no, that would definitely not be something I would be up for 🙂

      All the best and really hope to see you at the next IATEFL!


    2. Can I just say that a visit to IATEFL UK by a US-based ESOL teacher would be beneficial in so many ways, just as a visit by a UK-based teacher to TESOL-US would have its advantages.

      If you can afford it, do it!

  16. Super post – thanks very much for the great ideas Emma. I’ll pass them on to the conference committee and see which of them are workable for next year 🙂


  17. Hi Emma!
    I loved your post – you have a great way of writing which I first saw on Twitter and now even more! (I found you on Twitter through Ken – Ken, I really owe you big time!Thanks a million!)
    Your description of IATEFL was very vivid and it makes me (who has never been to a big international conference like that yet) so impatient to attend one!
    Emma, you are one of those ELT people I am really looking forward to meeting! So, see you in Brighton in 2011? (Do they have a Starbucks there,where we can have all the chocolate truffle cake we can get? Ha ha!)
    Thank you so much again for this post, which is so amazing, I have read it three times already!
    Kindest regards,

  18. Hey Vicky,

    Sorry not to have gotten back to you sooner – I had forgotten to check the replies 🙂

    Oh my – can you imagine us in the Brighton Starbucks (there must be one there for sure) or we’ll go to a Costa for Ken! It would be just fantastic if you can make it to Brighton, really. I’d so look forward to meeting you after your support and ever-friendly words on Twitter (yeah thanks Ken, we both owe you).

    Glad you found the post of interest 🙂


  19. Hi Emma. I was that Maisie-no-mates at IATEFL and joined twitter soon afterwards. I have just had the same experience that you had, at TESOL France, and you put into words the way I felt – a bit of trepidation and a lot of anticipation. What a fantastic experience it is to have a waiting group to make face to face contact with. I hope that we will be able to meet up at IATEFL Brighton.

    1. Hi Sue,

      I’m so happy for you that you had a favourable experience at TESOL France. That other people are feeling the same way about going to these events, i.e. the slight nervousness, combined with the thrill of meeting like-minded people, convinces me that certain social media used in the right way, is a wonderful professional tool. I’m guessing we don’t have to be convinced but I hope that new teachers wouldn’t be put off about coming to conferences because they don’t know anyone.

      I wouldn’t miss Brighton for the world so it would be great to see you there! 🙂

      Emma x

  20. Hi Emma

    A great post I have revisited again, full of fab insights!! I look forward to experiencing the thrill of being a presenter at IATEFL Brighton for the very first time, and to meeting up with you and so many other members of our amazing PLN. Roll on April!!

    Have a wonderful 2011!!


  21. Just found this great post Emma! I love any blog post that tells a story, and this story was so useful for me. I’m heading to IATEFL next week (from Canada) and having a bunch of the same feelings. We have so much in common, including the freelance TEFL career and the four year old who will be in full-time school next year.

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