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Beyond the Buzz: 5 Ways to Cultivate Convention Connections

by Ixchell Reyes |

As the doors of TESOL 2024 close behind us, the journey of growth and connection is just beginning. While it’s common to leave a convention with a folder (digital or physical) brimming with handouts, this doesn’t have to signal the end. Instead, it marks the start of an opportunity to ensure that the connections made and the insights gained continue to grow and flourish long after the final session ends.

Embracing the Journey Beyond the Convention

The Power of Connection

Staying connected with peers beyond the convention can be a wellspring of ongoing support and encouragement. Whether it’s through collaborative projects; discussion groups on platforms like Slack, Telegram, or WhatsApp; or simply a shared laugh over a classroom anecdote, these connections can become a cornerstone of your professional development. They offer mentorship, a sounding board for ideas, and a sense of belonging to something larger than your own classroom.

Nurturing Professional Relationships

Diving deeper into the postconvention experience, I’ve discovered that the most enduring professional relationships often blossom from the connections nurtured during postconvention interactions. These are the connections that lead to collaborative projects, thought-provoking discussions, and a shared understanding of the challenges we face in the language classroom. They form the backbone of a robust professional learning network (PLN), a support system that’s there when you need advice on a project or when you’re scouring for resources. It’s through intentional engagement with this network that we can nurture a community of support and camaraderie.

The Essential Postconvention Phase

The period following a conference is essential for translating the enthusiasm and ideas from the event into actionable steps. It’s a time to reflect, connect, and integrate new concepts into your professional life, ensuring the continuity of development and learning. This ensures that the knowledge and inspiration you’ve gathered don’t just wither away. In the language classroom, we strive to create connections to the target language that extend beyond the school walls. Similarly, we should be proactive in maintaining the connections we’ve made beyond the conference halls. This continued engagement guarantees that the exchange of ideas and the spirit of learning persist until the next gathering.

Maintaining high motivation is certainly challenging with the many responsibilities we juggle. Yet, it’s empowering to know that through thoughtful actions and a mindset geared toward growth, we can keep the inspiration alive and thriving.

5 Actionable Steps to Sustain Momentum

So, where do you start? Remember, maintaining momentum after a conference isn’t just about riding the wave of excitement; it’s about fostering professional growth and nurturing a culture of development. Whether this was your first TESOL convention or one of many, here are four actionable steps to get you started:

    1. Convention Recap Email: Compile summaries of the sessions you attended and share them with colleagues. If multiple instructors from your institution were present, collaborate to consolidate the resources you’ve each collected. This is an excellent way to disseminate knowledge to those who couldn’t attend.
    2. Coffee Chat/Lunch & Learn Session: Pick a couple of standout ideas from the convention and organize an informal learning session. Give it an enticing title like “Bite-Sized TESOL Takeaways” and extend an invitation to your colleagues. Emphasize the casual, low-stakes nature of the gathering to encourage participation without adding to anyone’s workload. If other colleagues attended, invite them to cofacilitate.
    3. Social Media Engagement: If you’re active on platforms like X or LinkedIn, share your takeaways using common hashtags such as #TESOL2024 or #TESOLTip. Tag your new connections and encourage others to join the conversation.
    4. Write and Reflect: Type up your experiences for the TESOL blog! This can be after you apply some of what you learned. Knowing that your experience is being read by others is empowering. Reflecting can also mean responding to this very post to share how you plan on growing after TESOL!
    5. Interest Sections and Affiliates: Of course, your local TESOL affiliate group and your TESOL interest sections are a great place to continue being active; both communities are the perfect place to connect with others to keep you going until the next convention!

Which of these ideas resonate with you? I’d love to hear from you! Comment and share your favorite memory/takeaway from the convention!

About the author

Ixchell Reyes

Ixchell Reyes teaches English at the Defense Language Institute English Language Center at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas. DLIELC is the leader in English language training for the Department of Defense and builds security cooperation capability through English language training and cultural immersion. Reyes also cohosts the DIESOL Podcast, which focuses on developing innovation in ESOL. She’s been recognized for her innovative efforts by the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) as an emerging leader, and by CATESOL as a Professional Development awardee. She previously taught at CSU San Bernardino, UC Riverside, and at the University of Southern California.

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the U.S. Air Force, the U.S. Department of Defense, or the U.S. Government.

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