We all attend different conferences and professional development sessions as models of lifelong learners. What makes a successful experience? What is your approach while you’re there to extend your knowledge base? How do you bring back the information and share it successfully? Here are our tips to ensure it was a successful experience.
1) Have Fun
Surround yourself with good people.
Learn to laugh at the current challenges that you all face. Take moments to eat together, get a little sight-seeing in, and take time to care about the day-to-day lives of your coworkers. It’s amazing how making time for each other strengthens your team bound.
2) Work as a Team
One person can’t make every session because there are usually multiple topics during the same chunk of time. Agree to go into different sessions and then debrief about what you learned.
3) Take Away New Learning from Each Session
Regardless of whether the presenter was entertaining or dry, there is at least one thing that you may not currently be incorporating. The entire session may have been filled with wonderful new points, or you may feel like you knew everything the presenter shared. The first is the easiest to walk away feeling like you have grown. However, the latter might have made you feel like you could have done the presentation. In that case, at least walk away with a sample of what they are incorporating in their classrooms. Take that back to your staff and show them the example of what another classroom has done so that they can have a reference point. There is always something that they are doing that could help improve what you are doing.
4) Make a Plan
Begin to think about how you are going to share what you discovered. Most likely it can all be done at once if any good is to come of it. Begin thinking about what can be shared immediately. Likewise, think of the stuff that maybe down the road. Hit the ground running with the easy suggestions and encourage your go getters to implement within a short time frame. Save the more intense development for when time allows for it. Maybe that is at the beginning of a new grading cycle or after a long vacation.
5) Extend Your PLN
There are a lot of great people with incredible ideas at these conferences who are starving to learn more. Introduce yourself face to face. If that intimidates you, tag them in a tweet or shoot them an email. What’s the worst that could happen, they don’t respond?
6) Be Proud of Your Accomplishments
Reflect on your new learning and your growth. Also take time to pat yourself on the back and reassure yourself that you are heading in the right direction.