Tsukuba Diving: Forty Things from JALT2014

This year JALT celebrated its 40th annual international conference and I attended for the third time in a row. I had a fun and fab time and I wanted to share some thoughts, experiences, inside jokes, whathaveyous. looks ahead, looks back, looks sidewise, sideeyes, between the lines reading material, and shoutouts. They are in no particular order below.

  1. Wow. iTDI is a wonderful community.
  2. My definition of workshop is not quite the same as some presenters.
  3. Many people at JALT are very friendly and welcoming.
  4. It was very nice to see lots of people who were at KOTESOL this year or in recent years. There is quite a nice group of conference junkies around. In fact, I had a chance to meet and chat with some people I had seen around at various conferences in Asia. It was a great chance to catch up. I am hoping to attend Thai TESOL and CamTESOL early next year
  5. It was a bit dusty at times during Chuck Sandy and Barb Sakamoto’s presentation on Monday.
  6. I don’t like to stereotype but from my experience Indonesian people are good singers.
  7. Some presenters are much better when they are just telling the things they want to tell rather than creating engaging tasks and turning things over to the audience. It sort of bugs me when people say they are going to turn things over but never do.
  8. At JALT the interns are super helpful and they seem to get a lot of appreciation and support from the conference committee and conference committee. This was very impressive for me.
  9. Some people drank too much and didn’t see any sessions in the morning on one or some days. This can happen.
  10. This picture of David Chappell as Prince might have some small relevance to my personal goings on around the conference.

    team blouses
  11. I didn’t see sooo many presentations but most of the sessions I saw were excellent. In reference to #7 above, it was something I heard around and not something I saw with my own eyes.
  12. I did see a session that was billed as a workshop but ended up being the presenter talking about things for ages and then opening it up to questions at the end for 5 minutes..
  13. Tom Farrell gave an excellent (as well as provocative and thought provoking) plenary on Reflective Practice. It is always a pleasure to hear him speak.
  14. Tom Farrell will be giving a workshop in Seoul next weekend and I am excited about this.
  15. In 2014 some people still load their slides with text and simply read off of these slides.
  16. I had the great pleasure of presenting with Ann(a) Loseva and Kevin Stein. It was great fun and a great honor to work with them.
  17. I talked about FLashmobELT (and activities, and context, and borders and lots of things) with Kevin and Anna and a very nice, supportive and informed audience. Good times. Here is a link to information on the glorious #flashmobELT movement.
  18. I had some serious fanboy moments. One of them was when I met one co-author of Widgets for the first time and told him how much of a big fan I am. I didn’t speak a word of a lie.
  19. I had some semi stalker-ish moments, too. One of them was mentioning to that co-author of Widgets and told him I happened to sit next to him a session the previous year at JALT. He seemed like he was ready to be apologetic about not remembering me but I had to tell him that I simply sat next to him and didn’t say anything.
  20. This cat (Via Colm Smyth Media) sums up my feelings at times during the conference.cat pic 22
  21. In a session on Action research by Andy Boon we were asked to share a potential project (based on a puzzle we were considering) with a partner and I had two fantastic and insightful conversations with a very sharp and interesting woman who was a great listener and paraphraser. Thanks, J!
  22. Someone I respect deeply and greatly told me he loved this blog post by me and that it made him laugh out loud.
  23. I thought JALT was at a great venue this year. Some might even say it was epochal.
  24. As part of the free stuff given in the conference bag there was a free book from Atama-ii Books (as mentioned in my interview of Marcos Benevides here). Don’t tell her but I might give mine to Anne Hendler.
  25. Regrets, I had a few. One of them was not seeing Tim Knight (AKA @nakanotim). though I thought I saw him across a crowded room for a moment.
  26. Another potential regret was not buying Michael Swan’s “Thinking about Language Teaching.”
    I am not sure if Russel Mayne will approve of my excuse but I just have too many dead trees versions of books that I haven’t read yet and I don’t have the space or inclination to always carry them around. Update: No Kindle version yet.
  27. Update: Karaoke can be fun.
  28. I thoroughly enjoyed Claire Kramsch’s plenary on Saturday morning. I would like some praise for almost being on time for this.
  29. I saw a really cool session from the CUE and Teacher Development SIG on reflection(s). They ran 6 rounds of speakers talking for 5-7 minutes and the audience rotated around. It was a nice format and a nice way to share some thoughts and experiences. After this Tom Farrell gave some comments and made some connections.
  30. At one point in the past I thought it was strange JALT had a whole special interest group devoted to TED talks. They don’t. TED stands for Teacher Education and Development.
  31. Conferences can change people.

  32. The Vice President of KOTESOL is very cool, kind, committed, and professional.
  33. “As such” is not a phrase I feel comfortable using. I believe I never will.
  34. This is one of those times when I walked away from a conference feeling inspired and different and ready to make small and big changes in my teaching (and maybe life).
  35. Today’s class was likely somehow different based on some of the things I was thinking about and maybe even in relation to conversations across borders. I was also willing to take a risk and do something very different. I think I tend to take risks a lot but not this sort of risk. I am sure this is very boring and bland without details but I don’t think one line on a list of 40 is a good place to go into what I did and how it went but I will just say I was a bit bolder.
    (The line of “I just went to a conference and wanted to try something out” seemed like one that drew some interest, and maybe more buy in, from students.)
  36. Next time anyone wants a picture of me and my doppelganger (or griffleganger as the kids are calling it) I might just demand a five dollar donation to a charity of the photographer’s choice.
  37. Some people I met got their first passports (and winter coats) in order to attend JALT. This sort of spirit helped remind me how lucky I am to have access to all sorts of professional development opportunities.
  38. The SIGS in Japan seem to be very active and a great benefit to their members.
  39. Last year after JALT I wrote this about Post Conference Blues. The symptoms are worse for me this year.
  40. The aforementioned Kevin Stein (who I thank for the words and permission to share them) wrote this and I think it is beautiful:

a returning

that is what I will call
this leave taking
this saying of goodbyes
that I refused to say
with my coat–
sleeves threadbare
one button missing–
draped over my suitcase
while I walked away
behind me
brave enough
for tears

a returning

that is what I will name
these memories
of 3 dollar cups of coffee
of grown-ups playing
with puppets
of power point slides
like so many secret messages
rolled up and tucked
away in the suitcase
now clanking against
the metal guard rail
of the luggage rack
above my head

A returning

the name for all those words
the stories of our days
since the last time
like a blanket of hope
we wrapped around
each other’s shoulders
while outside
the November leaves
more brown than red
tumbled along
In the wind

I will call it a returning
although I am old enough
to know
there are no promises
old enough to know
that people sometimes leave
without finding a way back

I will call it a returning
and hope you too
will call it a returning
that this will be
yet another gift
from you to me
that you will overlook
one more time
my childish insistence
that there are no
that you will understand
‘a returning’
is just another way of saying
I am still here with you
that returning
is just another way of saying
I have never left


    • mikecorea

      I will continue looking forward to meeting you someday, Carol.
      A very late thank you for commenting and sharing in my excitement here.
      And thanks also for the (very deserved) praise for almost being on time for the plenary!

  1. kevchanwow

    Thank you sir for this eclectic list of some of the things that made this years conference so memorable. And thank you for the chance to present with both yourself and Anna L. Hopefully the Idiots will be back again for another round next year.

    • mikecorea

      thank for you all that you for the fun and laughs and seriousness and enjoyment and all. I will surely miss JALT this year!
      Thank you also for allowing me to share your lovely poem here!

  2. Andy

    Glad you got something useful out of the Action Research workshop and had a good experience with your Understander! Thanks for attending.

      • alexcase

        I’m sure there were none that radical, but I remember thinking when I had a review in ELTJ that mine was by far the most boring and conservative one in there, and I vowed to try to break out of that MET mindset and spread my wings a little more if I ever did one again…

  3. gotanda

    1. Thanks for all of the comments, but thanks most of all for coming to Tsukuba!
    2. Good to see you however briefly.
    3. I also glimpsed @Nakanotim for a sec across a hall.
    4. I was happy to make it to 3 sessions and a few posters this year in addition to all four plenaries, though late for one. (Not telling which, but I also want points for partial attendance).
    5. It’s EPOCHAL! Dammit!
    6. I am really enjoying this blogging format.
    7. Too bad Kimie Takahashi couldn’t speak, but I was lucky enough to talk with Gerry Yokota for a quite a while.
    8. Tom Farrell was a blast.
    9. This blogging format might almost make me blog again.
    10. One of these years I am going to make it KOTESOL.
    11. Go to CamTESOL. Just go.

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