Sharing a short article I wrote for Voices after attending IATEFL for the first time.
As a teacher trainer from Buenos Aires, I devote a lot of time to ongoing personal and professional development. In the new era of collaboration and sharing, I have joined several social networks to enhance my learning opportunities. As a result, I was able to fulfill my purpose of connecting with like-minded teachers in a culturally sensitive way. Beyond getting great ideas for teaching and staying excited about my profession, I find that I am not alone in wanting to innovate, learn and grow. This required me to leave my comfort zone and become a life-long learner exploring ways to integrate digital tools to enhance teaching and learning.
Knowing that the future of education is not teaching but learning, teacher development is essential for our students’ success in order to keep up-to-date on the lastest trends in ELT. It is necessary to learn new methods, techniques and strategies so we can be better equipped to face 21st century challenges.
This year I was awarded the IATEFL BESIG facilitator scholarship to attend IATEFL in Glasgow. To be part of such a prestigious team as BESIG is truly a privilege. As a scholarship winner, there were several moments to celebrate this award. IATEFL invited all the scholarship winners to attend a tea party and there was a scholarship stand in the exhibition hall showing posters of all the scholarship winners.
Being a member of several social networks such as Twitter and Facebook has allowed me to understand that learning is a social process and it requires people to collaborate, share ideas, seek answers and build new insights throughout the process. Social media has become a valuable and free educational tool for my professional development. In recent years, I have been learning and sharing on-line experiences integrating technology with several teachers worldwide. This has been a key ingredient for me to constantly meet like-minded teachers.
My first day at IATEFL was at the BESIG PCE. Attending so many interesting sessions was really inspiring and overwhelming at the same time. At IATEFL I kept bumping into teachers I´ve been networking with for the last 2 or 3 years and from the beginning I felt instantly comfortable and at ease. There were no kilometers separating us. We all mingled immediately as a group to build relationships and connections worldwide.
How could a teacher that lived so many kilometers away from Glasgow feel at home in such an enormous conference? Bonds had already been established with many amazing people. There were more than 800 teachers attending this conference and I immediately felt I had known many of them for several years. The effect of social networking has been the most rewarding experience I´ve ever had as a teacher.
If I had to define my whole experience attending IATEFL, I would say that it has helped me reinforce my world-wide connections and has shown me how alike we all really are.