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  • Writer's pictureJudy

Oct. 16, 2022: Conferences

Yesterday I had the privilege of being a presenter at a Teacher’s Conference. Conferences have always been a staple for most industries and careers. They were held often…until the pandemic hit and then they jumped into the virtual world. With two years of solitude behind us, in-person conferences are back.

Professional Conferences are not all alike however. 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. Teacher’s Conferences in particular can be varied in everything from offerings to the cost to attend. Some, like the one at which I presented yesterday, are focused on a specific content area (this one was Social Studies). Some conferences, like writer’s conferences, may focus on an overview of everything related to the subject.

While cost and scheduling may cause many of us to be selective in which conferences to attend, they are certainly invaluable and worth the time and money put into attending.

No matter the format or the sponsor, there is one thing that you can do that can help to maximize the benefit of attending a professional conference:

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

o Everyone is in a different place in their career and should be seeking different things at the conference. By thinking about your personal needs ahead of time, you are more likely to put yourself in the position to reach those goals. Is it to gain a better understanding of materials and tools for classroom use? Is it to gain inspiration and strengthen your craft? Is it to make personal connections and build your pedagogical knowledge? Is it to gain an understanding of the latest cutting edge technology in your field?

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 our goals 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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