The changing and dynamic nature of the English teaching profession means that teachers need continuous professional development to keep updated with changes and trends.
Seminars and conferences can make a valuable contribution to the professionalism of English language teachers as they provide a strong source of information for continuous professional development, provide a strong sense of community and aid in the development of a professional identity.
Attending conferences is always rewarding to me. Since the beginning of my career, I have always been looking forward to the opportunity for attending conferences and presenting papers. Through conferences, my ideas and energy were rekindled and renewed. Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages, or TESOL International Association, is one of the largest professional organizations for English language teachers and educators. It hosts international conferences every year. This year the convention was held in Portland, Oregon, USA from 21-24 March. I was fortunate enough to attend this convention and presented my paper. My trip was supported by the US Embassy, Dhaka, with a travel grant. It was a thrilling experience for me to meet with the global community of English language professionals.
On the first day, I was astonished to learn that the convention had 3300 attendees from 110 countries. There were approximately nine hundred sessions, a significant number of invited speakers, and keynotes on a variety of topics, including peace linguistics, biodiversity, and socializing and humanizing. The four days long convention has different segments with diverse interests. The sessions were stimulating. In particular, the keynotes were not simply contemplative but also eye-opening with distinct ideas. I was moved by the opening Keynote which was on 'Biodiversity and Diversity in Bio: What's the Point?' In addition, the Presidential Keynote, titled, Inspiring the Future of Research in ELT’ was full of conviction. On top of that, the third-day keynote, on 'Language, Power, and The Brain: Linguistics for Social Justice', was also very provocative. Moreover, there were twenty types of sessions, like Academic Sessions, Advocacy and Public Policy, Dialogue, Intersection Sessions, Electronic Village Sessions, Panels, Posters, Workshops, Teaching Tips etc.
The sessions were focused on manifold topics like applied linguistics, content-integrated approaches, refugee concerns, second language writing, social responsibility, supporting students with disabilities, career path development, global education and many more. The sessions were loaded with wonderful thoughts and kept the participants engaged.
I also had a presentation in that prestigious convention. My presentation was on the third day. It was a poster presentation on 'Climate Connection in Low Resource Classroom: Challenges and Choices'. I was excited though it was not my first presentation. As soon as the time approached, participants started visiting. Their interest and query inspired me. Making conversation with researchers from different countries with the same interest was worthwhile.
To be honest, it was impossible to attend each session individually. Consequently, I earlier created a list of interests using the conference app. It should be mentioned that the whole convention was well managed by the use of technology. Networking with teachers from around the world was the conference's best takeaway for me. Learning from other countries' classroom best practices is a good way to change how we teach. I also enjoyed learning about the difficulties of teaching English after the pandemic, and "Coffee Chat" was another interesting part of the event.
Last but not least, visiting Exhibition was another exciting experience. Stopping by the well-known publishing company, materials developer, and language training institutes was amazing.
What amazed me the most, was the openness to sharing and learning. Yes, of course, an open heart is essential to be a teacher. These teachers have their challenges with their families, their salary, their pains and sufferings etc., but why are they still here? I think it's only because of a commitment to the profession. What pushes them back is to grab the best thing for their classroom. In such a manner, TESOL assumed the part of the inspiration to offer a spot to contend and dissent, to learn and share and to foster expert connections across borders.
The convention offered me the opportunity to compare my professional experience with that of other ELT professionals working elsewhere. I became more aware of my potential. One of the important points that I must share is that this sort of conference participation also helped teachers like me to combat feelings of professional isolation. Such an incredible experience is valuable for affirmation and stimulation to a teacher.
Attending this huge event made me realize that English teachers need a strong commitment to continuous professional development. TESOL Convention allowed me to network with teachers, educators and researchers worldwide. I became familiar with various research areas, classroom Ideas and resources by attending different sessions. Moreover, this conference will work as a tonic for enhancing my self-confidence and motivation.
I would like to conclude by saying that TESOL 2023 is an incredible experience for me which developed a story of learning and networking. The whole program was pretty epic for me. Now is the time to share my new knowledge in my classroom and to serve my community. Yes, teaching is always learning to me.
A teacher dies as soon as he stops learning and what can be more beautiful than learning new and newer things every day!
Happy Learning! Happy Teaching!
Pranab Kanti Deb: Assistant Professor, Department of English, Sylhet International University