I can’t end these ACTFL reports without sharing one of my favorite parts of the conference: The walkabout with Ben Slavic.
After seeing so many presentations and evaluating so many materials, it was time to give a break to the analytical side of my brain. Fortunately, Ben was there on Saturday and we took a walkabout of the conference.
The myriad presentations were held in an underground rat maze of corridors filled with doors leading to scores of rooms, each with neat rows of seats and PowerPoints for all. The problem is that there were just SOOOOO many presentation options that unless you knew a presenter personally, it was a crap shoot as to whether the presentation would be valuable or not. The conference organizers really tried to give decent explanations by describing each session in different ways, but with so many choices, it became overwhelming after a while. After sitting through a few sessions that were not valuable to me, I began to distrust the descriptions in the conference handbook, hence the walkabout.
I am no mystic, but there was a vibe that could be sensed coming out of the rooms. We walked around feeling it and sampling sessions. Based on the milling and peeping, I think a lot of other folks were doing this too. The vibe was palpable and not all exactly feeling-based. An internal amber warning light went off if the session title had more than 15 words in it. A red light if the title was spelled incorrectly (saw a couple of those–maybe not their fault, but a bad sign nonetheless). Some of the sessions drew you in with the emotion. The dryness of others was a repellent. Often you could feel it outside of the door. Sometimes in a small session of 3-4, sometimes in a session that was full. Weird and out-of-my-comfort-zone voodoo-ish, but real.
The point here is that there is a need for the zest that a TPRS/TCI presentation brings. It is sorely needed at these conferences. The only competitors, as far as energy level goes, are the whiz-bang technology sessions, most of which ironically rely on ancient output-based thinking (read: no contest as far as acquisition goes). Hopefully we can sneak some more TCI presenters past the dragons at the approval gate next year and have even more participation at ACTFL in Philly.