Preparing for #VSTE17

In less than a week I’ll be at #VSTE17 with 800+ educators. I can’t wait to connect and learn and listen with engaged educators from around the state of Virginia and beyond!  I have been to at least 4 VSTE conferences and wanted to share some tips to get ready!

Don’t worry too much about the schedule yet.

Check out the schedule here.  There are so many fabulous sessions.  My favorite way to do this is to make an account, look through each time slot and mark EVERYTHING that sounds interesting. Don’t worry about trying to choose one session right now. Think about what YOU need and what will help others you work with to grow.   On each morning of the conference, as I get up and get ready, I look through the “My Sched” section to see all of the sessions I favorited and make decisions ONE session at a time.  AND if a session is full when I get there, the good news is that I have a whole list of back ups.

Remember that every session won’t be exactly what you need.  But EVERY session has something you can learn and take back to your classroom or school.  Listen with that filter and you will find those valuable nuggets!


Pro tip:  Add a shortcut to the sched on your phone so you can quickly locate session rooms and times on the go!

Pack your bag now!

After nearly a dozen conferences, here are a few of my “must haves”.

  • A comfortable bag.  There is no shame in carrying your backpack. I’ve had conferences where I carried a cute tote bag, but it sure wasn’t comfortable!
  • Don’t forget cords to charge your devices!
    • Pro tip – have a small power strip? Tuck it in your bag and you’ll be a lunchtime/session hero!
  • Devices – bring whatever you’re comfortable taking notes with! That may be a laptop, phone, tablet or even a notebook/pens!  It’s different for everyone and believe me, you’ll want to jot notes down!  For me, I’ve learned that my prime device is my phone.  I have carried a laptop with me year after year and not gotten it out.  🙂  I love to sketchnote, so I have a device (but leave it in my
    hotel room) that I can sketch on in the evening. Think about what works for you!
  •  A refillable water bottle (stay hydrated people!)
  • Snacks – especially if you have food sensitivities. The food is delicious (and constant) at Hotel Roanoke, but it’s always good to be prepared! No one wants to be hangry!
  • Comfortable shoes and clothes.  You’ll be walking a lot!  Be prepared!
  • A sweater or wrap or other layers – we never know what the temperature will be.  Way better to be prepared!

Prepare to be away from your school/office

Put up your away message on your email because you’ll be so busy learning you won’t get to check invery often.  Evenings are a great time to catch up or check in.   Remember, what you get out of a conference is equal to what you put in.  Be engaged.  Have conversation! Don’t be so caught up in what is going on back at school (even though it’s hard) that you miss out!  Everything will still be there (maybe still on your to-do list) when you get back to school.

Make time for conversation

At conferences we often worry about attending EVERY session and getting to every bit of learning that we can.  But often the most meaningful bits happen in the hallways and during meals.  The REAL connections you form with other educators are really powerful.  You can learn so much during real conversations.  Remember, you are gathered together with empowered and engaged educators at every turn at this conference.  Take advantage, don’t be shy, ask your questions and learn together!  (Same goes for heading out to dinner or evening events – join in with others and be sure to talk about what you learned during the day!)

Make a plan for taking notes & sharing with others

Think about what you’ll use to take notes.  A device?  Consider taking notes collaboratively using Google Docs.  Two sets of ears listening in/taking notes are better than one!   We will have a slide deck of templates that our school team will use to take notes (one slide per session).  What can you share with your teammates when you get back?  Does your school have a planned session for you to share what you learn?  Knowing these answers can help you set an intention and path for the conference!

And maybe most importantly, have fun!  Come find me and say hello!  This is a fabulous conference with TONS of learning if you are ready for it!


Here are some links to previous posts reflecting after the VSTE conference:

2016 –

2015 –


Additional Hints:  Be a Twitter Master at Conferences and Preparing for ISTE17



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