In my recent blogs, I have discussed conferences and the benefits of attending conferences. I have touched on the importance of your PLN and making connections during conferences that will help you grow as an educator. I am a huge proponent of the human connections that are made during conferences. In my opinion, educators and administrators can grow from the conversations alone at conferences. Don’t sell the sessions and speakers short though. There are many powerful messages and transformative ideas that can be taken away from each quality session.
A good conference session provides attendees the opportunity to learn, visualize and implement. Let’s look at some important takeaways from sessions to get the most that you can from conference sessions:
Visualize the implementation at your school/class
Listen and learn at each session. Obviously, if you attend a session and its not what you thought it would be, you should use your feet to help you. Go attend another session that you were contemplating attending. Don’t waste your time by attending a session and checking your email.
Go into a session and visualize the implementation. Watch and listen how it happened and then go make it happen in your school. Some may say, “Well, some things just aren’t realistic for me to implement in my school.” I disagree. See it happen and then make it happen. Does it have to be the exact same thing another school implemented? No it doesn’t. Just use the fuel the session gave you to build your fire.
Mentally manipulate another idea
I was in a recent conference session and heard a school discuss their Freshman transition program and the different activities their students and mentors participated in. I immediately began thinking of ways I could change our transition program at NLHS. The ideas I had were not the same as the school I was listening to. The session allowed me to think in a more broad sense about what would work for our students and staff. It is important to remember that different things work for different schools. The goal is to personalize the ideas gathered from the sessions and fit them to your building growth.
Talk the talk
Communicate with your PLN during the session and after the session. Tweet out ideas and important points from the session. Your PLN will offer comments and other ideas that will help you grow. Don’t transition to the next session mentally until you have maximized the potential growth from the session you were in. Communication is vital in this regard. Use personal relationships and social media to get everything you can from a session.
See your reflection
Take some time after the conference to reflect on your experiences. Think about the sessions you attended and make a plan on how you will communicate this message to others. Involve other people in your district. My advice is to blog and tweet about what you have learned and what you are excited about. Your passion will be contagious and others will help you grow by expanding your reflection.
Your professional development is exactly that, your own. You are the person who determines how your PLN will grow. You also determine what you will take away from conferences. For the sake of our great profession, I hope you take advantage of the great growth opportunities professional development can offer. If you are not going to do it for yourself, at least do it for your students and your building. They will help your visions become reality.