National teaching conferences are just around the corner and it got me thinking, what are some tips I can share to make your experience at any conference a successful one!
1. Wear comfortable clothes and shoes. You do not need to dress up or even wear business casual clothes. Jeans and a nice shirt are just enough. You should also bring a sweater because it is often cold in conference centers! The likelihood that you will run into your next future employer is slim, so look presentable but you don’t have to over do it.
2. Print out 5160 labels. Include your name, address, and email on them so can put the in the giveaways. (For a national conference I would do 4-5 pages of labels.) If your conference has a vendor area, there will be giveaways and mailing lists you will want to join! Bringing labels will make it easier to enter them all!
3. Take a notebook to take notes. I personally take notes using computer, but at a teacher conference the chance of you having a table are very slim. You will most likely end up with a chair only and your computer on your lap which gets uncomfortable all day.
4. Pack some general supplies like scissors, glue, markers, and crayons! Some of your sessions might be make-and-takes and you will be much happier having your own instead of what is given to you.
5. Take a good bag! Nothing too heavy you have to lug around, but something big enough to bring all your own stuff with a little room for more!
6. Pack some snacks. Yes, you will need sugar. We teachers are used to moving around all day! I would say about 10 and 2 I start feeling sluggish! If you don’t pack snacks, check the vendor area as many of them will have snacks (and some will have good chocolate too!)
7. Most teacher conferences let you casually switch sessions. Although it can be considered rude, most likely you paid a lot of money to go so get the most of our of your conference and so I say go for it in a respectful way. If you walk into a room and get a bad vibe, walk out before the session starts and go to another. Be smart, sit by the door or at the back and hopefully they will leave the door open! Just FYI – most teacher conferences I have attended do not have people checking that you are walking into the room you signed up and people will float in and out of classes for the first 10-15 minutes of them. (Unless it’s a sold out session, then you might have issues.)
8. Don’t pick sessions based off people. Unless you have seen them present or have recommendations from people you know, I would steer clear of picking a session just because you want to meet them. Don’t think that because someone has presented for years or because a person has a blog or online presence that the session will be worth you time. (I have made this mistake several times, it’s so tempting!) There are plenty of opportunities outside the sessions to meet these people, follow them on social media to find out where they are!
9. Talk to people! Don’t be shy. We are all in this together! I have made some of my very best friends at teacher conferences! If you are going alone, especially talk to people. Find someone to have dinner with that night or to sit with at your next break! It might be hard for you, but if you just spark a conversation with someone the rest of your trip might not be so uncomfortable.
10. Get involved with the social media side of the conference. Most conferences will have a hashtag to include or follow. Use it because it’s a great way to get involved and make new friends! Also, follow the presenters on social media! They often have sales or discounts during your conference you might want to take advantage of. They will also share resources to support what they talked about this way, so to get the full experience I highly recommend the moment you sit down you search the presenter on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram! (I might if even through out a post and tag them!)
There you have it, tips for attending a teacher conference. Do you have any tips? Please share below!