The place is here and the time is now

Perfect timing, coming at the end of what is one of the biggest opportunities for professional development in the ELT world – this conference – Anthony Gaughan’s talk promised to give us ideas to continue our professional development closer to home. Sitting where we could all see him, in a very relaxed style, he reflected on how, by coming to conferences such as this one, we are equating professional development with a quest, a parallel to fairy stories where the final reward comes after a long search in faraway lands over a long period of time. And these rewards are rarely close to home.

He continued to say that the grief we all feel for the end of a conference is a symbol of a misconception in that many of us associate professional development as something denied us at home – we do not expect to find it at home. When viewed in this way it is viewed as a commodity which exacts a price, the true cost being what we have given up not only in money but also in time. Likewise with certificates and diplomas, we are jealous and protective of them and value them more than lessons which are learned closer to home by actually facing challenges in our day to day work and overcoming them.

He pointed out that with the rise of social media, most of the relationships in our PLNs are not real, relationships online are different from real relationships at home, everyone lives exciting lives online, and online rewards have distracted us from seeing the possibilities of development from people who are close to us.

To help us do this, he then left us with four simple ideas to help us focus on opportunities at home, and, despite what he had just been saying, hoped to see us next year in Manchester!