Hey all! I’m back after a small break because I have been B.U.S.Y. Between my reading clinic week (another post for another day) and planning for the upcoming school year, I’ve had a little bit of time to present at a fabulous conference in Kentucky. If you follow my Twitter and Instagram, then you know that many of my fellow educators are attending summer conferences all over the country – from the High Schools That Work/SREB conference in Kentucky to the Teachers Pay Teachers conference in Orlando, this summer seems ripe with summer PD opportunities. This post is all about attending and presenting at professional educator conferences with some helpful advice if you find yourself wondering what to do, how to pack, and what to attend.
I approached two of my colleagues this past fall about a conference in Kentucky and they were gracious enough to lend their expertise and time to making it a success. We presented on two topics – Creating a Collaborative Culture and Co-teaching & Scaffolding for LDC Success. If you aren’t familiar with Literacy Design Collaborative, you HAVE to sign up for the free email and resources – literacy based lesson heaven! But this also meant PREPARING for our conference….in between Becca getting married, Tara moving, and me attending my reading clinic week. Crazy, huh?
Here are some tips if you are presenting or considering a proposal to present at an educator conference:
- ALWAYS determine the theme and ensure that your presentation will include or resonate with that theme
- include worksheets or handouts that are INTERACTIVE or require participation from your audience
- buddy up and present with another expert on your topic
- include your contact information, including social media, to allow your audience to interact with you during the presentation and to contact you afterwards
- determine your audiences’ level of expertise BEFORE diving into your information (have you used Today’s Meet? It’s free and allows your audience to interact with you throughout)
- educators want to know the HOW and WHY of your topic – don’t just yammer about your topic!
- if you have time in between your presentations, ask if you can attend the other sessions – this is the most worthwhile investment of your time!
- don’t offer trinkets (candy is alright) – offer quality information
- it should come without saying that powerpoints and presentations should be BULLET points, not paragraphs (and don’t forget to cite!)
If you are attending a conference and want to know what to bring, pack, expect:
- make sure any and all paperwork and fees are taken care of BEFORE you arrive, the day of a conference is always chaos for the organizers
- when selecting sessions, try to divide and conquer (if you are going in a group) and attend sessions that will help you to improve – sessions that interest you because you are comfortable with the material are not going to help you grow
- when packing, always bring professional attire (think casual professional – no jeans) for the conference itself BUT pack comfy clothes for exploring after the conference presentations and pack a formal outfit (extra jacket, dress) in case there is a reception or formal dinner – I review the schedule to gauge whether or not the formal wear is necessary
- bring comfy shoes – you never know how far away the sessions are from each other and you may have a small window of time to travel between sessions
- bring your laptop or tablet (and chargers) to access the internet – most conferences offer free wi-fi and will have a website that houses any information and presentation materials
- bring a notebook, favorite pens, highlighters for backup – and in case you like to write your notes and questions
- bring some professional business cards (TinyPrints has some great options) to share with new contacts
- a water bottle and snacks are always recommended in case you get the munchies in between meals and sessions
- some conferences have an app that allows you to see your schedule and the session details – use it!
- social media – don’t be afraid of it! Twitter is a great way to stay on top of the best messages from sessions and a great way to connect to new people
- ask questions – these people are experts and may have an answer that you haven’t heard of before!
- have an idea in mind about how you can use the information within your classroom – think application
- go to a session with the understanding that you should share and collaborate with colleagues who couldn’t attend – go back and spread the good word!
- attend with an open mind EVEN IF YOU WERE VOLUNTOLD
- do NOT skip any sessions to go to a bar, a club, or because you want to watch Jeopardy in the hotel room
- remember that you are representing your school and your own career – take it seriously and refrain from party-time
Looking for conferences to attend? You should contact your professional networks and seriously, the Twitter world is the best access pass to conferences that you may never have heard of before! For more tips on summer PD, check out this post.
Are you attending any conferences in the future? Have any recommendations, tips, or advice for those attending and/or presenting? Let me know in the comments and don’t forget to follow me on Twitter!