Everybody is starting to look kind of glassy-eyed as the Convention approaches its end tomorrow. I have survived by avoiding my program book. For those of you who have never attended a TESOL Convention, this book is a couple cm. thick. At any given time slot between 7:30 a.m. and 7:45 pm, there may be 40 different possibilities: academic sessions, energy breaks, demonstrations, papers, panel discussions, spotlight sessions, colloquia, exhibitor sessions, poster sessions, workshops, "intersections" and more. (Don't forget the EV fairs, classics, and mini-workshops!) They take place in the Convention Center, the Hyatt, or the Sheraton. If I look at it, I immediately identify 5-10 different things that look interesting. Then I feel frustrated. I solved this dilemma by not opening the book. Instead, I focused on the EV and attended many EV Fair short presentations, 2 mini-workshops, a CALL for beginners session, and several classics. In 2003, I was too intimidated to even go into the EV, so I was making up for lost time, you might say. The EV had its own little program book which did not include papers and presentations given on CALL topics outside the EV, so I missed those, but I feel satisfied that I have learned a lot just doing what I was doing.
I did attend a discussion this morning on cultural problems which can arise between Western teachers and Arab students, since we have many students from Saudi Arabia and Qatar in our program; and I attended the first plenary session, where Betty Azar, the "grammar queen" gave a very nice talk (which will be available by eventcast in a couple of months, as will all the plenaries and a number of other sessions as well).
This afternoon the workshop which brought me to Seattle--the CEA accreditation workshop--began with a 3-hour session in the Hyatt, and it will continue tomorrow from 9-3. This is a more serious topic and one which will occupy my time and energy for the next 18 months.
I've also seen other friends here--I am constantly running into people from my own affiliate, WATESOL, and some who have moved to other areas but used to work with me at MEI. There are purported to be more than 9,000 attendees here, but it's a village--just a very large one.
It's about time to go meet the webheads for our Chinese dinner.