Skip to main content

I attended #ACTFL19... now what?

November 25, 2019

For those of us coming home from #ACTFL19, it is time for the real work to begin.

A big conference like ACTFL can feel exciting, inspiring, exhausting... and overwhelming. Conferences are special kinds of vortexes–'swirling centers of energy'–that leave you feeling uplifted but when left out of control can lead to a huge crash. The conference gives you ideas and powerful feelings of inspiration, motivation, and passion. However, you must harness that energy, bridle that energy, or it will turn against you. The 24-48 hours post-conference are critical to maximizing your conference learning!

Make a plan for how you will implement your conference learning. #ACTFL19

Allow your conference experience to impact your teaching.

Along with Teri Wiechart and Diane Neubauer, Cécile Lainé and I have worked for the last several years to design and schedule a time of guided reflection, processing, and planning of implementation into the annual iFLT summer conference, which is sponsored by Fluency Matters. While that time is built into the conference schedule at iFLT, you can do the same things on your own this week even though you are no longer at the ACTFL conference.

Whether you attended #ACTFL19 in person or vicariously through colleagues on Twitter, let's work together to reign in our experience and implement our learning!

Write down EVERYTHING!

The first step is to brain dump. Block out 30-60 minutes today or tomorrow. In a quiet place, jog your memory and write down EVERYTHING!

Recall what you experienced

Begin by writing down a list of what you did during the conference: what sessions did you attend? Who led them? What was the title or topic? Where did you go for your meals, and with whom? Did you visit the Exhibit Hall? If so, look down the list of Exhibitors and highlight the ones that you remember visiting! This will help you to remember what happened during the conference, which will in turn allow you to remember what you learned or wondered during each of those experiences.

Recall what you heard and learned

Using your list of experiences to jog your memory, write down EVERYTHING that you saw, experienced, or felt during those experiences! If you took notes on paper, on Twitter, or otherwise, look over them as you do this. Download session handouts and review them! If you attended my Plan for Proficiency and/or Content-Based Learning sessions, you can access the handouts here.

You might find it helpful to categorize your learning as you recall it:

  • What big ideas did you hear?
  • What questions did you have?
  • What teaching methods were used or mentioned?
  • What resources (books, programs, subscriptions, blogs, leaders, forums, conferences/training opportunities, etc.) did you hear about?
  • What instructional techniques did presenters use or mention?
  • What activities did you experience or hear about?

Make priorities

Once you've remembered all.of.the.things, it's time to make priorities. This is critical to making your conference experience meaningful!

Cécile, Diane, Teri and I worked together to create a graphic organizer that iFLT attendees could use to plan how they planned to implement the ideas that they had seen and heard at the conference. Attendees looked at their list and chose no more than 2-3 things for each of the following categories (timing is written with reference to the ACTFL conference):

  1. ESSENTIAL: things that I need to do, try, or implement before Winter Break!
  2. IMPORTANT: things that I should do, try, or implement when we come back from break.
  3. SIGNIFICANT: things that I should do, try, or implement before Spring Break.
  4. I LIKE IT: things that I should do, try, or implement after Spring Break.

For those of you that grabbed a card at the Garbanzo booth, make sure you sign up for your 14-day free trial now! The introductory year pricing of $99.00/year will be increasing on January 1.

Visit to start your free trial. Subscribe before January 1, 2020 to lock in the 99.00 per year introductory pricing

NOTE: Learning from and working with the Coaching Team at iFLT, led by Teri Wiechart and has helped me to understand what effective teacher training looks like. Whether you are a teacher looking for high-quality training or an experienced or aspiring teacher-trainer, make plans to attend iFLT 2020 in Southern California. Venue details and registration information will be announced soon!

Choose your ONE THING!

Now that you have an implementation plan, it's time to really bring things into focus: you need to pick your ONE THING. What is the ONE THING that, if you take away nothing else from the conference, you are going to hold onto?

Your ONE THING might be an activity or a method that you can start using, but it might be a concept or a perspective that permeates everything you do. It could be a grading philosophy or a new filter through which you look at all of your lessons (equity, diversity, value for language acquisition, etc.).

Whatever your ONE THING is, write it down on a big ol' piece of paper and post it somewhere that you are going to see it often. You have decided that this ONE THING really matters, and putting it into practice will make all of your foot pain, sleep deprivation, drained bank accounts, and brain overload worth it.

Share your #ACTFL1thing

I want to know what your ONE THING is! I asked this question to nearly everyone who approached me after my sessions or came by the Garbanzo booth. Sharing your ONE THING with colleagues will not only challenge and inspire them, it will help you to flush out the idea. Share your one thing, then engage with your colleagues as they respond and consider what exactly that means and what implementation looks like.

Bring your learning into focus by sharing your #ACTFL1thing using the hashtag!

Join our newsletter

Subscribe to our newsletter and get instant access to 150+ free resources for language teachers.

Subscribe Today