I LOVE professional learning! Seriously. I always have…even the boring sessions. When I was a college student working as a beauty adviser for Aveda, I remember being so entranced by the fancy training sessions held in the meeting or conference rooms of a semi-swanky Atlanta hotel. The materials, the knowledge, and the new friends all put a smile on my face. It is no mystery to me these days of how I have ended up in my role as Digital Transformation Coach. Learning from others, training others, traveling around and collaborating with my classroom colleagues is not too far removed from learning how to sell the Spring eyeshadow collection made from “pure plants and minerals.” The only difference is that the “product” is education, and that now I vacillate between the role of the travelling session facilitator and that of the student. When I attend conferences, I relish the opportunity to become a student again.
Not only are conferences great for learning from others outside of your geographical community, but they also offer great opportunities to network with other educators. I often find inspiration from the sessions presented. The ideas or projects presented might not be what I wish to recreate in my District, but they may set off a spark in my brain of a divergent idea.
Conferences and professional learning summits/forums/symposiums also work like a great professional carrot on the stick of self-advancement. If you are looking to expand your skill set and augment your resume’, conferences also offer you the opportunity to travel and build upon your credibility and influence within the education field. If this is something of interest to you, go for it!
From personal experience, I have found that it helps to start small if you wish to become a presenter. Attend local EdCamps (or plan one!), fellow Georgians of mine reach out to your RESA to see if they need someone to serve as a presenter, or even present to your colleagues at your school during Professional Learning sessions. No matter what, keep your eyes open for presentation opportunities. Yes, you may fail. We all stumble at times. But as we would tell our students, that is where learning occurs. Remember, mastery comes from the repetition of picking ourselves up and plowing forward.
Over the course of the 2015-2016 school year, I have been grateful to have either present at or attend the Georgia STEM Forum (Athens, Georgia), GaETC (Atlanta, Georgia), and SXSWedu (Austin, Texas). I would have loved to have attended ASCD, which was here in Atlanta the weekend before our Spring Break, but unfortunately, already had plans. That is quite alright though. I was able to attend last year and was so excited to have had the opportunity to get my brain juices going. More importantly, some of my colleagues attended and you better believe that I will be picking their brains to see what they learned.
In the next few posts I will be sharing some of my more specific observations, thoughts, and general notes that I gathered from the conferences I have been able to attend. Hopefully you will find these as inspirational as did I. If so, I would love to hear how they got your brain juices going.
Until next time…