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Tackle ACTFL with confidence!

November 15, 2019

The 2019 ACTFL Convention and World Languages Expo is just one week away. This convention is unlike any other training that is available to World Languages teachers in the US, and it is an invigorating, inspiring... and overwhelming experience!

Over the last 10 years, I have made it a priority to attend and present at the ACTFL Convention. The convention has positively impacted my practice every year, giving me new insights and questions to consider. (Check out my takeaways from ACTFL18!)

Just as my mission is to help you become a more confident language teacher, I want to help you become a confident ACTFL attendee!

Start connecting NOW.

The #ACTFL19 hashtag will be sure to trend come Friday, but don't wait until then to start following! As you make your conference plans, search #ACTFL19 on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook to see what plans are being laid even now. ACTFL is already sharing important information for attendees, and some exhibitors have launched promos. Connect with colleagues now that share similar interests and are planning informal get-togethers during the convention, or get conference tips from seasoned attendees (like Señora Speedy!).

And if you, like me, plan to share the conference love on Twitter and through IG stories, do what you can to make sure your Tweets are Sweet!

Dress strategically

Let's start at the beginning: how to pack!! What you wear to ACTFL 2019 really does matter. At this conference, you will meet dozens–if not hundreds–of other language teaching professionals. You never know where a connection might lead in the future, and so you want to make a good impression. If you, like me, are coming from a state in which outdoor attire is professional attire, you might be surprised when you show up at ACTFL and discover that no one else is wearing hiking boots! As the professional photographer snaps candids in sessions and on the Exhibit Hall floor, you don't want to be the person wearing a t-shirt and jeans in a group of power suits!

When I attend ACTFL Conventions, I always plan to wear professional attire. And while it's important to look professional, it's equally important to wear comfortable clothing. I'll be wearing heels, but my heels are made for walking! I'll also plan to wear outfits that won't keep me from being able to squeeze down onto available floor space in a jam-packed session, and I'll avoid dresses and blouses that I feel like I have to adjust all day long. Low-maintenance, high-comfort, professional wear: that is the ACTFL way!

Visit the Exhibit Hall on Friday

If you are hoping to do shopping for your classroom at the Exhibit Hall, make sure you get there on Friday! In the past, I have worked at the Fluency Matters booth. They bring hundreds (thousands?) of books, and no matter how many they bring, they always seem to need more. ACTFL attendees LOVE shopping, and so it is not uncommon for their most popular titles to sell out by the end of the day on Friday! This is true of many vendors!! Many publishing and apparel companies and bring new products to ACTFL, and so you'll want to visit their booths on Friday to maximize your chance of being able to get the new titles!

This year, you can find me in Booth 906 with the Garbanzo team. Whether you have questions about Garbanzo or want to connect with me or Elicia Cárdenas about teaching with materials from The Comprehensible Classroom, make time to stop in and see us!

Note: While I'll not be working at the Fluency Matters booth this year, I will be just around the corner! You can connect with them at Booth #1000, located at the front of the Exhibit Hall. They will be running various promos and giveaways, and my favorite is purchasing any 4 different novels for just $15!

Try to win all the things!

Businesses and services that support and serve language teachers love ACTFL as much as you do! This year, I'm attending with Garbanzo as a first-time Exhibitor. For us, this convention is an opportunity to connect with 'our people' face to face and to make new connections. As such, you'll find that many companies run HUGE promotions and giveaways during the ACTFL conference. There are many opportunities to win books, subscriptions, trips, and more for your classes– why not try your luck!?

Because these promos often extend to teachers that are not able to attend the conference in person, be sure to follow #ACTFL19 on Twitter to maximize your chances to win from home!

The Comprehensible Classroom and Garbanzo is no exception– we'll be raffling off some amazing prizes:

Our Garbanzo raffle begins on Thursday, November 21. Visit our Rafflecopter homepage between the 21 and 23 for your chances to win, whether you are at ACTFL or following from home!!

Build in breaks

Unless you are a superhuman, do not plan to attend a session during every single time slot. When I have done this in the past, I have run out of energy and ended up missing some of the sessions that I wanted to attend most.

Build in breaks for yourself! Plan a time slot for grabbing lunch (make a date ahead of time with colleagues and take your time! When it comes to these conferences, collaboration is just as valuable as direct instruction.) Plan times to visit the Exhibit Halls and to grab coffee (the lines are always long!) or sit down and eat an apple. Rushing from one session to another is totally doable, but not when you have to rush between 4 sessions in a row. Plan one of the sessions as a break for yourself!

Be realistic about timing

Can you really get from Point A to Point B in 15 minutes? Are you really going to leave the session the second that it ends? Are you really going to sneak into the last 15 minutes of a session that overlapped with the Exhibitor Workshop you just attended?

As you plan your schedule, be realistic! If you have a few options in a given time slot that are all appealing to you, pick the ones that are located most closely to the sessions you are attending before and after. Chances are that if you recognize the name of a presenter and are determined to make it to that session, so are 100s of other attendees! If you want a seat, make sure you plan enough time to arrive at that room soon after the previous session ends.

Take recommendations

One thing that I love about ACTFL is that anyone can write a proposal and have their session accepted– regardless of whether they have experience presenting elsewhere! Over the years, ACTFL has been an opportunity for me to hear new and different voices and to discover new colleagues that share my vision for various aspects of language teaching... or that challenge it and make me think!!

On the flip side, I've also stumbled into sessions that sounded great on paper but just didn't deliver. For that reason, I am always on the lookout for recommendations. As I consider what sessions to attend, I look for sessions by presenters whose content has resonated with me in the past (ex: I now search every conference program for TED ZARROW). When a presenter is unfamiliar to me, I reach out to my friends that have been involved in their state organizations for a long time to see if they can give me more insight. If the presenter is from Kentucky, I see if Donna Tatum-Johns knows them. If they're from Ohio, I check with Teri Wiechart. If they're from Illinois, I ask Carrie Toth– all the more reason to make connections with teachers from across the US! Every session that I choose to attend at ACTFL means that I am choosing NOT to attend a whole lot of concurrent sessions, and so I do what I can to vet my selections ahead of time. But at the end of the day, I always end up rolling the dice a few times and hoping to strike gold!

If someone recommends a session or a presenter to you, listen! ...and on that note, I've got some recommendations for YOU!

Recommended ACTFL Itinerary

This recommended itinerary is not for everyone– my recommendations would change depending on what your goals and experience are. Specifically, the following session recommendations are for teachers that use or are preparing to use the SOMOS Curriculum. When there are concurrent sessions that I know would be excellent for Proficiency Oriented, Comprehension-based™ teachers, I have chosen to add those sessions to this list that will best support SOMOS teachers.

Please visit the Fluency Matters website for a complete list of all known Comprehension-based™ sessions at ACTFL 2019: many of which I will be attending!!

Download the recommended itinerary for SOMOS teachers for #ACTFL19

I can't wait to see you NEXT WEEK!!!

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