1. The obvious... Technology! 💻
I have always been an "early adopter" when it comes to technology integration. That being said, I was always an obvious pick when my school was looking for someone to send to tech conferences so new ideas could be introduced to the staff. I realized at my first technology conference (FETC in the early 2000's) that I loved learning new things, then teaching others in the hopes that they would be as excited as I was! I still feel the same way 27 years later! Of course, there are a lot more options now then there was in 1997 when I started teaching.
Even if you go to a conference with a high skill level in Instructional Technology, you will always find new tips, ideas, and tools that are worth trying out with the teachers and students in your school!
2. Connections 👥
If I could have two #1's, I would say Technology and People are at the same ranking! That may just be the extrovert in me talking though. 😜 The connections you make at conferences is awesome! You end up in a place where everyone has at least 2 things in common... education and the love of technology. I've always enjoyed talking to people in the exhibit halls, during sessions, and at social events held during the conference. Once I joined Twitter (now X) back in 2014, conferences changed forever! Social media has made conferences huge social networking and sharing events. I would post a picture or share an aha moment from a session using the event hashtag and realized that I'm sitting in the same room as someone that I follow - instant friends! Then you meet up with the same people from year to year like you've been friends forever. Now, I know "friends" is a strong word for someone you have just met, but the connections you make at these events are invaluable when it comes to being an educator and life long learner. Being an educator can be a lonely job, but that world is made so much smaller when you know exactly who to reach out to (thanks to social media) when you need ideas! Another perk is to meet the authors that inspire you to be a better educator!
Below are all of the ones I've met over the years. Every one of them have made my life as an educator better in one way or another!
When I go to a conference, I am always inspired to try new things and change my mindset in some way! Great speakers have an amazing talent that I often wish I had, to make you feel like you can do anything if you just try! Even though you probably have a few people in your life that can make you feel the same way, it's more powerful when they work in the same field as you. Educators who tell their stories can make other educators feel like what they do is worth it! We need to feel that way in our, often under appreciated, career choices.
4. Get Away✈️
My favorite conference is FETC, usually in Orlando, Florida. Besides being my hometown, it's an amazing place to go to in January! Usually it's pretty warm and they don't call it the Sunshine State for nothing. 😎 Jimmy Buffet was right about "changing your latitude to change your attitude"!
Going to a conference may not be a "vacation" per say, but having a break from your normal routine can do wonders for your mindset for the rest of the school year. If you are married with small kids, just getting a full nights rest can be the biggest game changer of all! Not to mention being with other educators so your spouse/significant other doesn't have to try to sympathize with your venting after work either. What ever your situation, you will find some benefits in getting away!
5. Change Your Mindset🧠
One of the longest lasting benefits of going to conferences would be changing your mindset! You might come back so inspired that you are ready to conquer the world (or your classroom), or your return with the validation you needed to continue what you were already starting to do in your classroom. You might also have the tools and research you need to share with your administration so they can implement new things that teachers and students need. You may even return with the confidence you needed to be able to present what your learned to the staff in your building. Whatever it may be, you will be better prepared to support your students (or teachers) for the duration of the school year!
So if you've read this far and you are ready to go to a conference right now, check out the resources below to see if you can find a conference to attend!
Where Do I Start?
I'm an Innovative Learning Coordinator in Berkeley County South Carolina and a Google Certified Trainer.