Mar 28

“10 Things For Teacher Bloggers To Do Before The ISTEK Conference” by Adam Simpson

Not many people know that my background is in business and economics. Not many people know this because it is a well-kept secret. Nevertheless, I like to dust off the Michael Douglas power-braces every now and then and get all business speaky. Here’s my list of ten go-getter strategies for the teacher blogger looking to maximize their ISTEK conference experience.

1. Go through the schedule of the event with a fine tooth comb. Decide in advance exactly what – and who – you want to see. Get an idea of a killer question you could ask the presenter based on the description of their session. This might just lead to a conversation after and a valuable contact for the future.

2. Do a thorough Twitter search of anyone presenting at the event. The ISTEK participants are making this pretty easy for you by being quite vocal in the days leading up to the conference (check the #ISTEK and #ISTEKelt hashtags to see what I mean). You can decide who you want to follow and initiate conversations beforehand. This works quite well for people like me who, despite being happy to stand up in front of a bunch of teenagers every day, is actually something of a recluse.

3. Use the Twitter jungle drum to announce that you’ll be visiting conference X in city Y. Let everyone know you’re coming. You’ll probably be able to initiate friendships that could lead to possible future collaborations. You don’t use Twitter? Get started now!

4. Find out if any of the attendees have a blog or a Twitter stream. Think how good it would be to know what’s going on in someone’s teaching life before you bump into them? Also, have a scour of people’s Twitter streams before saying hello at the event. You’ll be able to strike up a conversation about what they’re enjoying at the moment or that thing that’s really annoying them.

5. As a blogger it might be an idea to prepare a couple of post-dated pieces so you don’t have to fret about writing something just before or during the conference. You could revisit an old post if you’re stuck for something to write about. Did you attend the same event last year? See what you said then and reflect on it. Here’s a great example from Ken Wilson.

6. Get that absolute belter of an article ready during the days leading up to the conference, and unleash it on the day of the event. The chances are that people will be checking out your blog during or just before an event, so make the most of this window of opportunity and wow ‘em.

7. In the lead up to the event, think about how you can write posts that will lead to conversations. If you’re interested in a particular methodological argument or have a strong opinion about a certain piece of technological gadgetry, make sure you share that opinion and that you’re interested in what others have to say on the subject.

8. Exploit the likes of Twitter and Facebook for all they’re worth. Use the event’s hash tag (I’ll remind you, it’s #ISTEK in case you don’t want to scroll up the page and find it). People will be using Twitter Search or nosing around in Facebook to find info about the conference: make sure they found you.

9. Make a video about something and post it on your blog. Scott Thornbury did this recently to great effect (although who wouldn’t recognise him?). Videos can be much better for getting people to recognise you than photos, plus they are still a relative novelty in the blogosphere. People will think you’re clever and techy and want to be your friend.

10. Blog about as many people who you know will be at the conference that you want to connect with. Don’t be shy: discuss on your blog what you might want to talk about. People like to feel special and this will make them feel special. For example, I want to meet up with @DaveDodgson because he’s a Brit in Turkey and I think he has great enthusiasm for his job and some fantastic ideas about teaching. I also want to meet @harrisonmike because his passion for what he does shines through in his blog posts. See how easy it is (I just hope they are reading this)

This should be enough to keep you busy over the next few days. I’ll hopefully see you all at ISTEK next weekend.

Who wrote this drivel?

Adam is the blogger behind the eclectic mess of ideas that is Teach them English: A Year in the Life of an English Teacher. Now oxymoronically in its second year, his blog aims to share aspects of his day to day life with the unsuspecting and largely undeserving (of such tomfoolery) ELT community. Drop by and say hello.


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  1. DaveDodgson

    Hi Adam (and Burcu!)

    Some good pointers here (do you wear your Michael Douglas braces over your Iron Maiden t-shirt? ;))

    Interesting ideas reagrding blogging in the lead up to the event. I’ve been too busy with prep to think about any of that so I’ll probably just do a run of the mill preview over the next few days. Still, I hold back a prize piece or two ahead of any future events I attend!

    Namecheck picked up loud and clear. I don’t know how long ago you sent this post to Burcu but she’s made it easy for you to kill two birds with one stone as Mike and I will be room mates for the weekend. :)

    Looking forward to meeting you, Mike, Burcu and the rest in just a few days.

    Now, I better get back to finalising my workshop… 😉

  2. Mark Andrews

    In response to this bit of your post Adam “You could revisit an old post if you’re stuck for something to write about. Did you attend the same event last year? See what you said then and reflect on it.”

    I spent the ISTEK weekend last year in my flat in Budapest frantically tweeting the whole event and connecting with people from many different countries both in Istanbul and elsewhere. It was the first time I had experienced a conference in that way and we reflected on it at the end in a long twitter exchange which I captured and summarised in a blog post. It will be a different experience this year being there live but I will be doing the same as last year and a few more things in the role of roving reporter which I’m really looking forward to. This is what I wrote last year and the comments are well worth taking a look at. Looking forward to meeting up with lots of people at the venue and lots of people “virtually”, although it didn’t feel virtual last year as we were virtually there…


  3. Ken Wilson

    ..and number 11 is – print these 10 rules out and put it in your back pocket/handbag/or paste it on the back of the book you use most. They’re really useful!

  4. Shana Ray

    Great posting! I would add something about finding out if there will be any tweetups or networking events because the best part of any conference is networking and collaborating with others! Simply asking if there is a Tweetup with the hashtag for the event has worked for me in the past.

    Once again, great posting. I am definitely sending this to my team! I wish I was headed to #ISTEK, but hopefully I will get to meet some of you at #ISTE in Philadelphia!


  5. Nicky Hockly

    Enjoyed your post Adam, and loved the idea of Twitter as a jungle drum. Look forward to meeting you at the conference!

  6. Willy C. Cardoso

    it seems my comment (left yesterday) got lost in the cloud.

    basically, what I wanted to say was: Great post!

    and: look forward to meeting you.

    and: I wrote two post about my workshop.

    see you!

  7. adam

    Why can’t I leave comments on this blog????

  8. adam

    OK, ignore the last comment. Finally, after *literally* years of trying, I seem to finally be able to? leave comments here. Thanks for all the positive feedback: I’m genuinely pleased that you found this post useful / inspiring.

    I hope all those that attend the event next weekend have a great time.

  9. Mike Harrison

    All cool tips, Adam. Much appreciated.

    Like Dave said, thanks for the mention. Looking forward to meeting you, Dave, Burcu and others very very soon!

    Better get my workshop prepped too!

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