EgerOnline

The 22nd international conference for English language teaching professionals by IATEFL Hungary


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Behind the scenes – reflections by the conference organizers, part 3

Gálik Norbert

How did you contribute to the success of the 22nd IATEFL-Hungary conference?

My story begins at the 46th IATEFL conference in Glasgow, Scotland. Besides enjoying the sessions and networking, my ‘mission’ was to find out how the online coverage of the event is done. As part of my job, I talked to some of the key  people managing Glasgow Online, for example Julian Wing, Gavin Dudeney, Andi White and Carl Dowse. At some stage, I was also invited to a live online interview, where I had the chance to promote IATEFL-Hungary. Talking to all these charming and extremely talented professionals behind the online coverage, I started envisioning something similar at our 22nd conference in Eger.

Gergely Zita, Tartsay Nóra, Lindner Zsuzsa and I started working on the Eger Online (a.k.a. EGON) project some time in August and had very high hopes. We launched this project to:

  1. Promote online professional development and the culture of sharing and community support
  2. Increase the number of teachers getting involved in the conference
  3. Actively involve non-participants in the conference experience by giving them the chance to read about workshops; comment on blog posts; share ideas; look at photos; watch studio interviews and read roving reports
  4. Promote IATEFL-Hungary and British Council’s services and attract new members and contacts
  5. Demonstrate that IATEFL-Hungary and British Council are forward-looking and innovative organisations in and outside Hungary

 

Based on the feedback we have received from conference participants, online visitors and our professional partners, we can say that Eger Online has fulfilled all its aims. 🙂

What did you enjoy most about your conference-related work?

I just loved every minute of working on Eger Online. Making the preparations for the online coverage with Nóra, Zsuzsa and Zita was lots of fun. Having a shared vision of what we wanted to achieve somehow united us. Our ideas, enthusiasm and collaboration formed one focused ‘beam of energy’. All of us worked hard and added our own personal touch to the final product. We were a team whose members complemented each other and made up a complete whole. I simply felt at ease with this team. Strangely enough, I didn’t even mind working late at night, as I knew, the others would also be willing to make the same sacrifice in pursuit of our shared goal and success. As we had known each other for a few years and had worked on various projects before, mutual trust, friendship, honesty and  attention to detail were a given. These attributes, I believe, are the basic components of a successful team, without which everything else is in vain.

In September other valued and enthusiastic helpers and professionals joined our Eger Online team (i.e. Darányi Ildikó, Bujtás Barbara, Paál László, Osváth Erika, Patkó Györgyi and Frank Prescott). With their additional help and ideas everything ran smoothly during the conference. I’m grateful to them for all their excellent ideas and work.

In what ways have you benefited from your work?

By coordinating the Eger Online project, I’ve gained considerable confidence in overseeing complex projects, delegating tasks to a group of ten, applying systems thinking and improving my time management.

By setting up and doing a series of live online interviews, I’ve had the chance to develop my skills as an interviewer and to cope with time pressure. I’ve also learnt how to conquer my fear of making mistakes during live interviews and, what’s more, how to create a pleasant atmosphere in the studio and put the interviewees at ease. In doing so, Darányi Ildikó was a real asset as an assistant.

Which aspect(s) of your work or achievement(s) as an organizer are you most proud of? Why?

I consider myself more of an introvert and deep thinker. I tend to stay in the background at social gatherings or meetings while actively listening to the others, mulling over the topic under discussion and limiting my talking time to a minimum. These traits might stem from the fact that I’m a Capricorn, or an only child, I’m note sure. What’s certain is that I managed to break down these innate psychological barriers, when I volunteered to do live online interviews with the plenary speakers, some of the conference organisers and  partners of IATEFL-Hungary. I’m thrilled that I plucked up the courage and left my comfort zone, prepared thoroughly, managed to stay calm and did my best throughout the eight interviews.

Working with this wonderful team of volunteers was a milestone in my career and I’m deeply indebted to them for all their arduous work, original ideas and unstinting support.

Kozma Edit

What did you enjoy most about your conference-related work?

I enjoyed every bit. The pre-conference weekend-long meeting in January, where all the creative ideas were put together, the very feeling we shared there, that we are working on something important that other colleagues will benefit from, the feeling that we are learning something important at the same time and the elevating feeling of co-operation.

I also enjoyed working at the registration desk, where I could greet the participants and the speakers. It is so interesting to see those familiar and new faces that reflect excitement and expectations.

I love most that aspect of the conference that we did something last year, we realised (or we were made to realise :)) that we could have done it better and we are trying to improve it next time: and eventually it IS  better.

What did you enjoy least about your conference-related work?

Packing and cleaning after the conference is really hard. It means it has finished.

In what ways have you benefited from your work?

I’ve learnt lots of things. Patience, acceptance, recognition – these are not what I had to give, but what I got.

I hope I managed to develop my co-operative, communication and time-management skills.

Which aspect(s) of your work or achievement(s) as an organizer are you most proud of? Why?

I am proud because most of the people gave a positive feedback, and they benefitted professionally  from the conference. I am also proud that they were also having a good time, the atmosphere was relaxed, the social programmes were fantastic – I hope many people went home saying ‘It is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.’

Price Beatrix

How did you contribute to the success of the 22nd IATEFL-Hungary conference?

I still have vivid memories of our first meeting at Norbi’s house, back in the Christmas holiday, where we had to agree on the most crucial points of the conference (title, motto, inspirational thoughts, etc.) and how to attract both speakers and participants just after a very disconcerting parliamentary bill. We never thought we would have so many people in Eger… Not even a few hours before Margit’s plenary.

As I wasn’t among the main organizers in the committee, I didn’t do much in the preparations; when Nóri, Zsuzsi, Anna had done the lion’s share of the job there were still a few more touches to be finalised. This was a few weeks before the conference and I hosted the committee meeting at my house. Whenever we got stuck with an important topic, we just opened the ‘Book of Answers’ to find an intriguing piece of advice.

At the conference venue I helped to create the physical space in the main building, prepare the ‘Presenters’ Room’, where the presenters, the student helpers and roving reporters could always find a quiet corner, some snacks and fresh tea/coffee to recharge their batteries. I walked around to make sure that everything went well, and tried to radiate happiness. 🙂

What did you enjoy most about your conference-related work?

Once the physical factors were established (creating the space is like a vessel that can be filled with positive energy) I could do what I really enjoy most, meeting people, talking to them, making sure that everything goes well or if there is a problem (thank God there weren’t many!), try to find quick and efficient solutions. I simply tried to be present and serve others. I was delighted to meet people I’d already known and those I thought I’d “known” from blogs and educational sites; it seemed as if we had known each other for decades; and it was elating to meet new people and share some professional and personal experiences.

What did you enjoy least about your conference-related work?

I got very impatient at registration in the beginning. This first surprised me and then irritated me more and more, because I thought registration is the welcoming moment of the conference: it should go smoothly, with a click or a tick. When I realised that this was not the case, I just simply backed out of the job. 😦 I hope to do it better next year.

My second frustration also happened on the first day. I was meant to introduce Steve Oakes before his plenary, but as time drew nearer, I got more and more nervous and finally asked Frank to do it. In the evening, when I stepped into the breathtakingly beautiful baroque room (it felt like entering the Sistine Chapel), I immediately knew I had made a mistake. I went up to Steve and told him the story, saying: ‘Steve, I think I’ve missed my train!’

I was most astound when he started his talk with an anecdote how he missed his train 22 years ago in Hungary by not speaking Hungarian.

However, I was pleased to read in Frank’s reflection that introducing Steve was his ‘personal highlight’ of that day.

In what ways have you benefited from your work?

This was my first IATEFL-Hungary conference as a committee member. I experienced it with a freshman’s eye, whilst still trying to have my part in the 3-day event as much as I could. During the days I observed everything, almost like taking snapshots at every single phase so that I know how to prepare steps next year.

Which aspect(s) of your work or achievement(s) as an organizer are you most proud of? Why?

Having attended a few conferences recently, I realised how important the social aspect of such a professional event is. Every year participants complain on the feedback sheets (that the breaks are too short, that there is not enough time to talk to like-minded teachers, would be good to have some social time, etc.). So after a very successful British Council karaoke party in September I suggested having the British Council karaoke party again, at the IATEFL-H conference in Eger. Thank you to the British Council colleagues for running it!

And finally, still back to the beginning, I’m very proud of our “retro-theme” conference title and the motto we came up with at Norbi’s house; it seemed to have inspired so many presenters and participants to boost this excellent event.

Zeffer Szandra

How did you contribute to the success of the 22nd IATEFL-Hungary conference?

As I’ve been the coordinator of the Young Learner SIG for a while, I was in charge of putting the SIG event together. I really enjoyed the meeting with the committee in Gödöllő, where we talked about the whole event that we planned earlier with the other SIG coordinators. What I did was a workshop about Halloween games and stories on Sunday morning. Since the conference I have received some e-mails saying thanks for the ideas.

What did you enjoy most about your conference-related work?

I really enjoyed all the brain-storming we did with the other SIG coordinators and the committee. They are all fantastic and helpful people with great ideas and positive attitude.

I also loved moderating the Young Learner SIG workshop on Sunday morning. I had the opportunity to show some well-tried activities and ask the participants not only to take part in the games, songs and rhymes but also to share their own ideas. Most of the participants teach kids, so we all enjoyed getting together, inspiring each other and having fun during the session.

In what ways have you benefited from your work?

I could share the activities and games I tried out with the class I teach and, as I’m quite young, I could also learn how to create a friendly atmosphere amongst unknown teachers, who came to the event not only to learn but they were also open to share some new ideas with the others.

I benefited from conference on the whole. I’m really happy that I could be a part of it. I joined some workshops and talks which were all really useful for me for my further teaching.

Which aspect(s) of your work or achievement(s) as an organizer are you most proud of? Why?

First of all I’m proud of being one of the coordinators of IATEFL Hungary because I can be a part of a special team. I’m proud of the committee and the coordinators who did a great work before and during the conference.

I’m also proud of the positive feedback and the nice e-mails I got. I’m proud of making a successful workshop with lovely, open and active participants. And last but not least “I’m proud to be a teacher!” 🙂

This is the final part of the “Behind the scenes” series. Please check back regularly for a video clip about the 22nd IATEFL-Hungary conference.

Edited by Gálik Norbert