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”).