When the Estonian Reading Association sent out information about the 21st European Conference on Literacy, at first, I paid no attention to it. Life was busy and I didn’t think the conference was meant for me. When the second invitation came, I took the time to read, and decided not only to participate but to send in a proposal for a presentation. Months later, in August, I found myself in Copenhagen surrounded by hundreds of conference participants from all over the world.  

The conference days were filled to brim with many parallel sessions at a time. The varied choices in different strands allowed everyone to find topics of interest: early intervention, qualified teaching, digital competencies, literacy environments, students with special needs, lifelong development of literacy skills. One could choose from early years to adult education, from posters and speeches to workshops and roundtables, from practical teacher tips to scientific research by university professors. As a participant, I returned with new understandings and perspectives, several specific ideas to implement in my class, and a list of books to add to my reading list. In addition to that I felt connected to educators who each contribute, day in and day out, to the literacy development of children and adults. The bonus was getting to know new wonderful people and listening to their engaging stories. If you are thinking whether to participate in the next upcoming literacy conference, the 4th Baltic Sea Conference on Literacy, I encourage you to do so. You will have a chance to learn and grow as a professional.

On the second day after lunch was my turn to present. I was there as a teacher, giving a thirty-minute speech, sharing about my classroom practice. Building my presentation on my own experience and the stories from my classroom, I had a strong personal connection with the topic. Going for the first time to present at the international literacy conference I practiced many times, and this was good, because when the technology failed, as it sometimes happens, and the computer decided to restart during the third slide, I didn’t stop, but continued as planned. The audience was warm and supportive. If you are thinking whether to present at the conference, I encourage you to do so. If you didn’t think of presenting, I invite you to reconsider. As an educator, you have wealth of knowledge and experience to share with others. Presenting at a conference allows you to choose, select and curate your experiences, find the core of what matters to you, and to find the best way to speak about it. Most of all, your contribution would enrich the conference.  

Is it worth to participate and present at an international literacy conference?

The answer is “YES.”

The 4th Baltic Sea Conference on Literacy will take place already in January 2020.

I hope to see you there!

Terje Äkke

Grade 4 teacher at International School of Estonia