At the end of the day, it’s all about the people…

I was supposed to have published this post on May the 01st. As I knew I was going to be in João Pessoa for the 14th BRAZ-TESOL International Conference, I really wanted my post to be about teacher development – mainly about attending conferences. I had even read some articles and blog posts on it in order to find inspiration for my post (“Teacher Development belongs to Teachers” by Willy C. Cardoso, “Attending Conferences” by James Taylor, “7 things about reflecting on conference presentations” by Willy C. Cardoso, “Teachers as learners, Part 4: Conferences, seminars & workshops” by Dave Dodgson, “Conferences… why bother?” by Rachael Fionda, “IATEFL 101: Making the most of conference sessions” by Mike Harrison, “10 Tips for Conference Goers” by Gene Crawford, and “A Conference is… A Little Life” by Anna Loseva). Just to mention a… Phew!

As soon as I got my conference program on April the 30th, I started flipping through it, looking for something I could write about. I decided to find out how many sessions were about Teacher Development, Teaching in Public Schools, Learning Strategies, E-learning/Technology, and so on. And I even analyzed all this data and created a graph. Curiously, at this very moment, I remembered why I became an English teacher! Statistically speaking, I’m not a statistics person at all!

As I’m a geek, I was really keen on attending all sessions on E-learning/Technology. Thus, I had a good look at their summaries in the program to be able to choose the ones I would go to. Hence, I could notice a shift from a focus on technology itself to a focus on people in the sense that technology is really just a tool and what you and your students get from it is what really matters. All in all, what really matters? People matter!

Suddenly, I had an epiphany… What if it had been about people all along? I mean, what if I had been going to conferences especially because of the people I would meet? Of course, I’ve always been genuinely interested in what they had to say in relation to TEFL. However, deep down inside, I’ve been much more interested in getting to know them and learning about the roads they’ve taken (and the ones not taken, as well).

Meeting old friends and making new ones, being introduced to people and introducing myself to people, talking to them, listening to them with an open heart as reading a biography and/or an autobiography to get to know all about their life stories, their career choices, their jobs, their passions, their motivation and their personal drive have made me question many of my assumptions and beliefs, reexamine my own career choices, and grow as a person and as a professional.

It was no different this time in João Pessoa. At the end of the day, it was all about the people!

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Michele Schwertner

Michele Schwertner has been an English teacher for over 25 years. She holds a B.A. in TEFL. She is currently teaching private lessons.

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