Thursday, October 30, 2008

2008 KOTESOL: Me acting like a cat . . . yikes, or should I say "Meow?"

I was surfing the Net and blogs and came across this pic of me on in the storytelling presentation I went to first on Saturday morning at the 2008 KOTESOL conference in Seoul at Sookmyung Women's University. It was a really good presentation in terms of being well organized, and had a few small ideas that I may use.

The presenter asked for 8 volunteers and gave each of us an animal card. We were told to make a gesture that signified our animal. She then read the story and as she read the story we had to listen for our animal name and make a sound and gesture when we heard the name called. I was a cat . . . Julianne has video of the story being told but I have yet to upload it . . .

I agree with Joe when he says, "The conference as a whole was not as thrilling as I had expected. During the course of the weekend, I wondered about this quite a lot. Was it simply not as good as last year’s? Is there any sort of vetting process for people who submit proposals?I think there is something else at play here. This is my seventh KOTESOL international conference. I really got a lot out of those first conferences because I used them to learn about teaching kids. I took a lot of notes. As time has gone by, I see more and more workshops that are working on things that really aren’t saying much, or they are talking about things that I learned in my first year of teaching (eleven or so years ago) or are things that I think should be pretty intuitive."

My own personal irritation came from a presentation on group discussion tests. I've been teaching for almost four years and during that time I have never administered or designed a group discussion test. I designed and gave one about 3 weeks ago. I made my own rubric, and videotaped the tests so that the students (who had also never done anything like this before so they had very high levels of performance anxiety) could see what I talked about in their evaluation comments, and to understand their test scores better.

Anyways, long story short the group discussion presenter showed us a video of what I thought was a group discussion test--later on someone called him out on the video and he confessed it was actually a video of a group of students being assessed for placement in an English course with different level classes--it had nothing to do with a group discussion test. I then realized that the handout he had given everyone in the room was not a rubric for a group discussion test but rather for the group assessment process for class placement . . . seriously, WTF? The guy is presenting to a roomful of Masters in TESOL and Linguistics professors, and the rest of us who have varying degrees of training and experience teaching--and we PAID to hear him too . . . talk about committing reputation suicide!

After all of us in the room figured out that he was wasting our time with materials that HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH HIS PRESENTATION TOPIC teachers in the room began lining up to take a bite . . . one guy behind me asked, "Do you have a copy of the rubric you used in your group discussion test that we could see?" Answer, "Uhm, no, not here. Sorry."

At this point the guy might as well have just thrown himself into the ocean after taking a long chum bath . . . anyone who doesn't know that presenting to a room full of teachers and professors is tantamount to swimming with a bucket of chum held above your head while surrounded by sharks . . . they shouldn't be presenting.

I have presented several times to large groups of foreign teachers--once to a room full of 200 public school foreign teachers--you better freaking believe that I prepped for HOURS, and did a dress rehearsal with five teachers I was working with to practice my 3 hour presentation before I even dipped my toe in the water!

If you don't prepare a presentation for a teacher/professor audience properly you might as well be doing this,

After leaving that fiasco I pretty much lost interest in the conference . . . and just wandered around looking at books and talking to people.

I hope next year is better . . .



Anonymous said...

Ah! I was at that session. I couldn't believe it; a snowflake turns into a blizzard.
I think that was the point where I'd lost all hope in the conference and was more going through the motions since I was already there.
Oh well, fingers crossed for next year.

Jason said...

Bizzard . . . yes. And I'm hopeful too. I wonder how they pick the themes for each conference? I'd suggest "Pushing the envelope" so that we might actually get some presentations that are EXPANDING ON and DEVELOPING ESL and EFL theory, methodologies, and practice.


Anonymous said...

I just figured out why you seem so familiar - I work with Amanda S in Seoul and she introduced us at the beginning of the conference. I was also chatting up Liz R and we are going for dinner after Cambridge Day. Speaking of which, will you be at CD?