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!


Michele Schwertner is a freelance teacher, teacher trainer, and e-moderator. She has been teaching English for over 20 years and is currently pursuing a Master's degree in Educational Technologies at UFSM (Universidade Federal de Santa Maria). Her research and teaching interests lie in teacher development, distance education, CALL, digital learning/teaching materials and resources, e-moderating, multimodalities and multiliteracies.

  • Adir Ferreira
    Adir Ferreira
    Posted at 17:28h, 16 maio Responder

    Michele, like yourself I looked through the program for talks and workshops on pronunciation and I did see quite good ones. At the end of the day it is all about the people. I got closer to friends I had made online, met some incredible people and am looking forwarding to getting together with them in the near future.

    Posted at 18:16h, 16 maio Responder

    Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts with us.

  • Suzana Nory
    Posted at 10:52h, 17 maio Responder

    I share the exact same feeling!

  • Michele Schwertner
    Michele Schwertner
    Posted at 15:45h, 18 maio Responder

    Dear Adir, Bruno, and Suzana,
    thanks a lot for taking the time to read my post!

  • Maria Valésia
    Posted at 09:28h, 19 maio Responder

    Dear Michele,
    It was awesome to meet old and new friends, to share the flat, and learn together!!! Kisses

  • Michele Schwertner
    Michele Schwertner
    Posted at 17:23h, 19 maio Responder

    Dear Valésia,
    it’s been a pleasure learning with you and from you “all the way”!
    Hope we can keep on learning together forever!

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