I started to write this post yesterday… and found my previous posts where I talked about
- 5 tips to prepare for #VSTE17
- Be a Twitter Master at Conferences
- Preparing for ISTE17
- Reflections from #VSTE16 and #VSTE15
After looking at these, I wondered if there was anything left to say? I actually re-tweeted my post from last year because it still applies. As I thought more, I decided there are a few more things I wanted to say.
Focus on what really matters. What are you really seeking?
Yes, it’s important to know to bring a water bottle, power bank and a sweater… but that’s not most important. I want you to consider the reasons you’re attending this conference. What convinced you to ask your school or division to pay for this (or convinced you it was worth spending your own money – something I’ve done many times for VSTE conferences past)? And how will you further that learning?
I want to challenge you that it isn’t likely to be the newest app you find… or the best lesson plan that you will take back to your team. It’s not about a chrome extension (though there are a ton of cool new ones!). I would argue that the reasons we are choosing to attend VSTE18 are much bigger and broader … or they should be. Some of the questions I’ve heard educators asking recently or that I’ve been pursuing myself are listed below. It’s by no means exhaustive, but it’s a start.
Make the Time to Really Connect
Conferences are all about the connections we make. I’m an introvert and it’s exhausting for me to meet and greet and visit and yet it is one of the most meaningful parts of a conference. I will connect with educators from around the state and build a powerful network of professionals. Together we know much more than we do individually. I usually spend at least one session a day in a hallway or gathering space, lost in conversation with some educators that share a common interest and passion. Some of my dearest friends from around the state started that way.
Also, even when you’re most exhausted at the end of a day (especially if you are introverted!) see if you can attend one or more of the fun evening events. They really are fun. If you can’t muster it (and that’s ok too! Take care of yourself!) see if a small group of people who get you want to grab a beverage or dinner and reflect on your thinking and learning from the day. Maybe attending the morning workout or yoga is where you choose to connect. Grabbing an early coffee and a walk before the day gets started. Whatever it is… find a social time to connect with those you come to the conference with and those you meet at VSTE.
You don’t have to do everything. Choose how to spend your energy.
Decide what is worth doing for you. Really think deeply about what serves your purpose for attending. Focus on your big questions and let that drive what sessions and events you attend. Maybe that means you use your time differently during the conference than you’ve done before. Maybe your focus is finding educators with a similar focus and connecting with them. Consider how you are listening for voices that aren’t usually included. Do you have a time in your schedule to hear from students?
No one can design the perfect conference for you. Just like no one can make you learn. I want you to really get the most out of your conference experience and truly learn this year.
I can’t wait to see you there! Come by and say hi. I’ll be ready to talk. I promise.