Attending Workshops and Seminars – How Important Is It?

(Image taken from
(Image taken from

During the ten years my sisters and I owned our English Language School in Ioannina, Greece, the only thing we constantly did was come up with new ideas, prepare for lessons, spend endless hours at the school which we tremendously enjoyed and…attend seminars and workshops. We managed to squeeze them into our 10-12 hour-day schedule because we enjoy learning (as I have already said in a previous post, I believe that teaching is an ongoing learning process) and enjoyed the seminars as experiences (most of the times we attended).
In our city at the beginning, when we first opened our school and for three or four years, the frequency of seminars was great – various publishing houses mailed us invitations, announcing the speakers and topics, most of which were extremely interesting. We attended without fail. (We also attended those in Athens at our own expense. That is how much we love teaching and our school!) We always came back with enthusiasm (isn’t it a great feeling when you have just come back from a creative and interesting workshop? I always feel I can teach non-stop for a week!) and new ideas, which we could use in the classroom and so could the rest of the teachers at our school. The problem was this – each time we went, it was the same group of people: the Loras sisters (as other people call my sisters Eugenia and Christine and myself) and a number of other teachers, not over 15 in number, in a room that could easily fit 200 people. So what happened after that was that the publishing houses stopped having seminars in Ioannina almost altogether, as they could not handle the costs of renting a hotel conference room, important speakers and equipment for the talks when practically nobody would attend, except us and the fifteen teachers I mentioned!
So we started going to Athens and Thessaloniki only (two of the largest cities in Greece), as no workshops were taking place in our city – and I must repeat, at our own expense. What happened after the seminars in Athens? We were informed about so many subjects on our field and the latest developments, that we were practically the only school in our city who knew about these issues and when we had new registrations, it took such us a long time to persuade these people about the developments (as they had not heard them at other language schools in Ioannina), that each time we actually had to bring out our seminar notes and print off the internet the new government regulations that we had heard about at the workshops!
I know that there are so many good teachers out there who are very busy teaching, preparing, writing, tweeting, and blogging and for me, they are true heroes (and education needs as many of these teachers as it can get). It is worthwhile attending seminars and workshops though, as the experience you get and the new ideas are so important for our work. I also know that among the good teachers you will listen to, there will also be a few not worth attending their workshops. But you can make your choices. And the enthusiasm you leave with cannot be paralleled. Many are the times when I have felt tired before going to a talk and after attending it, I feel so excited and I think teaching is the best profession I decided to enter.

7 thoughts on “Attending Workshops and Seminars – How Important Is It?

  1. As the number of workshops, conferences, etc. reaches epic proportions, I am wondering what it is truly all about. Especially given that many of the “big name” conferences have wide and deep corporate sponsorship, there is definitely a political agenda at work.

    I think that study/reading circles would prove much more valuable. And much less expensive.

    1. Hi Marcy!

      Thank you so much for your comment.

      You have a huge point there – the number has become tremendous, which is great and daunting at the same time. I am away from conferences for this year and the next because of my work and Masters studies, but I saw that before I stopped going that I was having trouble 1) affording lots of them, 2) dealing with huge crowds, 3) getting to talk and interact with all the educators I wanted to. People are so busy that even saying “hi” is hard sometimes.

      Study and reading circles do help, and lately I have seen a few of them popping up on Twitter and I’d like to give them a go. I love this idea and thank you for reminding me of it!

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