Conference Nerd

By: Amber Chandler


I'm a big planner, so changing what I was intent on writing about for this edition of "Milestones" is a bit surprising. However, if I've learned one thing over the years of being a writer, if you aren't feeling it, don't write it!

Instead, I've found myself preoccupied with thinking about AMLE in Nashville this fall ... I'm dreaming of my next "vacation" since I did summer school this year. This is my fifth year attending the annual AMLE conference, and I'm just as excited as the very first time. I'm looking forward to so many things, but I wanted to take a moment to share some of the "conference insider" tips that I've learned over the years!

Tip #1: Talk to the presenters

When I love a session, I make sure to introduce myself to the presenter and share my impressions of the session. As a presenter myself, I know it is great to get that honest, instant feedback, but it's also a great way to meet passionate educators like yourself. Several years ago I met Katie Powell, author of the brand new book Boredom Busters, after attending one of her sessions. Check out her website, teachbeyondthedesk.com, to find out more, and watch "Hungry Hippos for Back to School" to see how she engages students. She'll be presenting at #AMLE19 in Nashville, so stop by to learn from her. I've met Rick Wormeli, Rosalind Wiseman, and other #EduHeroes just by introducing myself.

Tip #2: Get social

Of course, when you're at a conference you should meet new people, socialize, and have fun. However, when I say "get social," I mean to take to social media and follow all the educators you meet and whose sessions you attend. Think about it this way: if you love the session or had a great conversation, social media is the way to keep the conversation going. We could all use a little more positive in our lives, right? Teaching can be an alienating experience, and it is crucial to put ourselves out there, sharing our own narrative, but it's also important to continue the learning. Here's a list of just some of the educators I've met at AMLE. You should follow them too, and you'll find them at #AMLE19:

Katie Powell: @Beyond_the_Desk
Todd Bloch: @blocht574
LaVonna Roth: @LaVonnaRoth
Jessica Lahey: @jesslahey
Dr. Debbie Silver: @DrDebbieSilver

Make sure you follow the presenters, but also walk right over to the table of people you don't know, and strike up conversation, even if it's awkward. We're used to awkward, right? We teach middle school! The connections you will make are worth it, and you'll keep learning long after you've left Nashville.

Tip #3: Enjoy the venue

I'm a conference nerd. I'll admit it. I've been to conferences where I literally didn't step outside of the hotel the entire time I was there--including last year's AMLE conference in Florida. The venue was so out-of-my-element that I spent my time wandering around inside. It looks like I'm outside in these pictures, but that's just the Gaylord Palms Resort and Conference Center. This year's conference is at the Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center, and I'm sure that even if I keep to my conference nerd trend, I'll be happy. It's not every day that I have the chance to stay at a luxury hotel, so that just might be enough for me. Let me know what it's like in the outside world!

Happy New School Year everyone. I look forward to seeing you in Nashville and on Twitter. Please come see my session, "Integrating Art to Activate the Magic Molecule," and say hi! (You can read about it here). Next month, let's explore this question: "How do you develop relationships with students and their families?" Look to participate in the conversation on Twitter (@MsAmberChandler) and Facebook (look for "The Flexible Classroom").


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8 comments on article "Conference Nerd"

I really enjoy and agree with the tips that you include in this blog! My junior and senior year of high school I attended many conferences for Future Educators of America. I made sure to use this conference as a time to explore where I was but more important to get to know other future educators around me. I still am in contact with key note speakers and peers from the conferences I attended.

—Kayla
11/20/2019 11:14 PM

Nice tips! I agree with all three of the points you presented, I especially liked #2 "Get Social". I never looked at the fact that when you follow presenters on social media it can not only give you new and great ideas, but it can keep the passion for education alive! As educators, I think it is extremely important to be involved with as many PD opportunities as possible to continue our own growth and learning. Thanks for sharing!

-Matthew

—Matthew
11/29/2019 2:52 PM

I think these tips for conferences are very helpful and can be applied to any teacher in any content area! I feel like introducing yourself to the presenter will not only give the presenter feedback on their presentation, but it is a great way to form a support system. It is amazing that you got to meet Katie Powell years ago and you still find her work so impactful on your life. I never thought social media would be a major platform for so many educators. Social media is a great way to keep up with family and friends but now we can also follow presenters we enjoyed and “Keep the conversation going” after meeting them. I look forward to going to conferences and use the tips I learned from this blog!

—Kelsey
12/8/2019 11:23 AM

I will be presenting at a conference myself in March 2019, so these tips will be great to keep in mind when that time comes. I will be sure to talk to other presenters now -- I am certain that there will be some overlap in our presentation topics which will likely make for an interesting conversation. As a pre-service teacher, that will be a great opportunity to build some lasting connections.

—Nicole
12/8/2019 3:43 PM

Going to a professional development conferences is something I haven't thought about doing before but after reading this article it totally seems worth wild to do. I feel like it will give me a chance to learn about teaching strategies that I have never heard about and get different prospective on issues pertaining to the world education

—Marc
12/8/2019 9:22 PM

I loved this blog so much! I loved all 3 tips and I, of course, enjoy any venue that I am in whenever I go somewhere and I never have issues getting social and meeting new people wherever I go. Tip #1 really stuck out to me about talking to the presenter. I have never done this because I feel so weird doing it and normally I am wanting to go to another session and there is a long line. Im not for sure what I would say either, besides the points that I really enjoyed during their presentation.

—Olivia
3/30/2020 3:08 PM

Conferences look like a great way to make connections as well as attain a ton of new knowledge. It is good to know that they can be fun as teachers are developing as professionals. I look forward to the conferences I will have to attend in the future due to the tips you provided.

—Ian
4/26/2020 5:10 PM

Going to professional development conferences is something I look forward to as a future teacher. I hope to utilize all of the tips discussed in your post, but especially tip #2. I hope to have the opportunity to socialize with teachers and gain a useful resource and support system for things that happen in my future classroom.

—Cecily
4/29/2020 2:07 PM

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