Thursday, 10 December 2015

Once Upon a Conference...ICELT 2015

After a three-year hiatus, I decided to present in TEFLIN Bali last September followed by ICELT in Equatorial Hotel, Melaka. The turnout was surprising really (full house) given my paper's title. But seriously, I really had to drag my feet to the conference this time around only deciding to pay the fees at the very last minute. I was self-sponsored as usual which wasn't really a problem. The problem was getting excited about it I used to. Maybe it was the end of the year? Maybe it was because I've presented here before? Anyway I was there early on the first day of the conference.

For first timers, their enthusiasm was expected, many of whom were sponsored by their institutions. It was a pleasure to see many young teachers in the conference. However, by the end of the first day, I was still feeling awkward and less than enthusiastic. The first parallel session I attended was Dr Abdullah Nawi's from UTM. We crossed path when he was an English teacher in Bandar Tenggara but he is a Dr. now, having completed his PHD in Drama in New Zealand and a senior lecturer  from the business card he gave me. It's good to know many teacher friends have moved up the academic ladder. His paper was on how to reenact the (boring) textbooks we have in school. I must say it was a novel idea getting students to role-play the characters/parts from reading texts in the textbook. Variety is the spice of life after all and variety is what doesn't kill our students in class haha! However, as much as I'd like to embrace drama techniques in my T n L, is there an easier way to do this? For people like me! Poor old me would be huffing and puffing more than Dr Abdulllah did in his role-play! He definitely had that acting ability which I think is a bonus. Another talented person who came to mind almost immediately as I was watching Dr Abdullah is Ahmad Adnan, an old friend who is now teaching in SMK Dato Hj Hassan Yunos, Renggam. He would love this idea of turning the textbook into drama! It will be his cup of tea!

I have no complaints about the professionals- the invited speakers. They were in their element. Alan Maley was as always in his best and I always like his plenary because he makes me think about what it is to be a teacher although he is somewhat too familiar a figure in ICELT and MICELT. He is always well-researched and profoundly knowledgeable. Jan Blake was her usual self and the others too (too many to name) but somehow I wasn't really there. Between sessions I cursorily glanced at the books (although I did purchase more than ten books because they were very cheap!) and thought the booths were not very exciting this time around. I thought past conferences had many booths and great resource books to choose from. I miss the earlier MICELT conferences where I learned not only new knowledge but also how to present a paper, a workshop or a poster. Whatever happened to those presenters? They had a lot of substance and research rigour.

Jan Blake I think....

I decided to go to a few sessions by the local presenters- Mara teachers to be precise to learn what creative teaching they wanted to share. One title attracted me but surprisingly the presenter did not present a paper. It was merely a sharing on how to use "Google Slides" in her class. She even used the slides from Youtube to sort of sum up what Google slides could do. No question time, no research methods whatsoever. It made me think what a paper was supposed to be by conference standards. It wasn't a paper but rather a sharing of a teaching tool readily available online. Granted there's nothing wrong in sharing something that is not yours but to be given a medal for that is something else. I didn't bother to go to the other sessions. Perhaps they could have been given 10 mins each to showcase teaching and learning tools/activities as they did in ICELT 2010 in Ipoh. For a seasoned conference goer, I felt the standard has somewhat dropped. Previous ICELTs were much better and meatier. In contrast, the TEFLIN Bali conference I attended had a strong research rigour although it did not have the band from Melaka's Hard Rock Cafe for entertainment! I don't know. I just felt something was amiss in that parallel session.


Met Cynthia and her friends from Sabah :)

Perhaps I need this much needed end-of-year break to rejuvenate and bring back my enthusiasm. I was honest to Jenny (SISC + Perak and my co-writer) when I said that I'd  lost my drive. Jenny reassured me that it will come back. I truly hope it will!

Happy holidays peeps! Be good!

Those who can DO, Those who can do more TEACH

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