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  • Writer's pictureJudy

Oct. 15, 2023: Conferences

Yesterday I had the pleasure of being a presenter at the Florida Council for the Social Studies Annual Conference. I presented a session on getting kids excited through authentic research and writing projects.

I typically present at two or three Educational or Writing Conferences per year, but yesterday was the first time in which I did not present alone. I had two graduate students from the University assisting me. The conference was one of the first of this kind that they had attended, so it was fun to see the gathering through their eyes.

Professional Conferences are not all alike. They can be enormous, industry-wide events, or small, local gatherings. They can feature the famous, rock-stars of the industry, or the up-and-coming newbies.

Unfortunately, most conferences are also pricey. Which means that we can’t attend them all and must pick and chose where to spend our time and money. But as one of the students said to me at the end of the whirlwind day, “Boy, that was SO worth it!”

No matter the format or the sponsor, there is one thing that you can do to get everything you can out of the conference.

Decide on your personal goals for attending before you get there.

o Everyone is in a different place in their career, so we each approach a conference with different needs and priorities. Think about these before you get there.

o Prioritizing these goals will make it easier to make the many choices that go along with attending a conference.

o With so many different conferences available, your goals should also dictate which conferences you should attend. Most of us cannot attend them all every year due to time and resources, so thinking about what your goals and needs are for right now, can help narrow down the conferences and sessions that are most likely to help you reach your goals.

o Your goals should dictate the sessions you seek to attend, the way you approach the unstructured time between sessions, and the connections you will seek to make at the conference.

o Knowing your goals will also help you use that unstructured time in positive ways. Should you browse the Vendor room and collect business cards? Should you sit in the lobby and chat with other attendees? Should you track down the keynote speaker to get that selfie with them?

Conferences are goldmines of connections, information, leads, and inspiration. Knowing your personal goals before attending, can make it all the more productive!

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