As summer approaches, many of us plan to attend educational conferences of all kinds. Some of the best ones are in our own backyards. Others are international in nature, and, because of budget or travel constraints, are available to us only every once in a while.
I still remember the first big conference I attended: TelEd, put on, in part, by the International Society for Technology in Education. I was teaching fourth grade at the time, and paid for part of my attendance, roomed with our central-office technology director (thanks, Cornie Moon!), and was given the lowdown on how to get the most out of a huge conference (thanks, Adrianne Hunt!).
I was completely mesmerized by the presentations, the vendor booths, and just the buzz of being at a big conference. What a great experience for a simple elementary school teacher from little 'ol Calcasieu Parish, Louisiana! I can still remember combing through my conference program, highlighting all the sessions I wanted to attend, and taking feverish notes at each one.
Since then, I've been fortunate to attend dozens of summer workshops, teacher institutes, and other conferences. I still learn lots -- sometimes just from the social-networking component. I love being able to find other people who do what I do, but with a different take, or from a different place.
I also present and deliver conference sessions all over, and I always encourage attendees to be sure that the next time they attend a conference, they bring a coworker along who might not otherwise attend that specific event. We tend to go to conferences in our specific field, when sometimes the best thing might be to go to one outside our main area of interest.
I've taken principals, special-ed directors, parents, and students with me to numerous conferences just so the nontechnology people I deal with can hear different versions of what I'm always preaching. I also try to attend nontechnology conferences when I can so I can make sure I don't lose sight of other content areas or strands.
This summer, I'm attending the National Educational Computing Conference, as well as the High Schools that Work Staff Development Conference. I've been to NECC many times, but I haven't ever been to the HSTW event. I'm thrilled and grateful to be able to attend both this summer, not to mention several others at which I've been asked to present. (If you're attending any of these, be sure to find me and say hi!) How about you? Are any of you putting on workshops this summer or attending any teacher-related institutes or conferences? Are you taking anyone along with you that might not typically go? Share your favorite educational conference, institute, or other summer professional-development experiences of any kind. What are your summer plans for professional learning? Which events will you be attending this summer? Why did you choose the one(s) in which you're taking part? How do you get the most out of your attendance? The Virginia Department of Education has some simple suggestions for obtaining the most value for your event attendance. If you have other tips, post them here as well. See you around this summer!