Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Presenting Again

This summer, I started presenting at conferences again. While for some of you, that may not seem like a big deal or something which is blogworthy, but I actually took about 18 months off from presenting and attending conferences. For all of 2018 and the first half of 2019, I did not do anything conference-related (you can read about it here). In a nutshell, after a whirlwind of conferences and of presenting in 2017, I was so burned out that I needed time away from professional development and kept a low profile (outside of my blog) as a result.

This summer's ACL Summer Institute marked my return to presenting again. On behalf of SALVI, I co-delivered a presentation called "Putting Latin in the Ears of Your Students (When You Don't Know How to)," which I enjoyed doing, but I also felt completely rusty being up in front of adults. I also felt nervous, which I rarely do before presentations. Most times, if I am nervous, it concerns logistics - do I have the right dongles/attachment cables for the projector, what is my presentation space like, is audience seating conducive for my presentation, etc - but this time, I was actually nervous about presenting itself and being in front of adults. The presentation was well-received, and although I felt good about it, I did not feel like I was on my A-game at all. 

Cut to IFLT a month later, where I gave a presentation "I'm Sick of Kahoot: Using Technology for the Delivery of Comprehensible Input." This time, I felt completely on! Maybe because since I am currently a doctoral student in Instructional Technology, the topic was one with which I was very familiar. Maybe because I got my presentation feet wet again at ACL, I got the kinks and jitters out there. For all I know, the IFLT audience may not have gotten a single thing out of my presentation, but I know that I myself definitely felt good about it afterwards. Two weeks later, I delivered the same presentation at my district's world language pre-planning inservice, and once again, I enjoyed myself.  

Taking those 18 months off from attending conferences and presenting was a much-needed break from that kind of professional development. That time off has given me a lot of perspective:
  • During those 18 months, I did not miss attending conferences or presenting. This shows me that I truly needed time away from that type of professional development. When my colleagues were attending conferences, I was perfectly happy sitting on my couch eating pizza while watching reruns of Laverne and Shirley. That is not to say that I gave up professional development completely - it just took place in a different medium, e.g., blogs, Twitter, face-to-face discussions, and collaboration.
  • At the same time, now that I have taken a break, I am enjoying attending conferences and presenting. It is actually a very nice feeling.
  • It is easy for me to feel that I need to present. The reality is honestly, I don't need to. The world will go on (and has been) if I do not present.
  • It is easy to get burned out with attending conferences and presenting if it is something which one likes to do. I truly enjoy presenting and sharing ideas with others at conferences, so it is easy for me to go overboard with it and want to present all the time. I feel completely comfortable in front of an audience, so in the moment, I enjoy it, but I also see how addictive it can be for me. 
  • I am going to be a lot more selective in which conferences I attend and present. I have learned that it is all about boundaries for me. Attending IFLT is a no-brainer for me - I am definitely attending IFLT each summer, since I always get so much out of this conference. When it comes to state, regional, and national conferences, however, I need to be selective in order to guard against experiencing burnout again.
So I hope to see you at a conference!

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