It was bound to happen. Conferences are back and teachers are ready to dive into professional development. I wanted to share some tips for anyone that is new to ISTE or any other conference.
1. Wear comfortable shoes. You will be putting miles on your feet over the next few days and you need to take care of your feet. While wearing nice shows while you present or go out after the conferences is nice, you need comfy shoes to walk the halls and the exhibit hall. If your feet are sore after a day, the next couple will be painfully difficult to get around.
2. Stay hydrated. This is particular important for ISTE this year. Drink water all the time, especially if you will be drinking non-water drinks at night. You will not be able to concentrate and you will feel like a hot mess if you are not properly hydrated.
3. Eat. This one seems silly, but it is so easy to get wrapped up in the day and not have a good lunch or breakfast. You need energy for the day and these meals will help you get through the hustle and bustle of a conference. Eat healthy and carve out time to do it. Enter it into your planner and follow it. Your tummy will thank you later.
4. Do not be scared to say hi to people you follow on Social Media. We are all educators and are dedicated to making education better for all. Just because someone has more followers than another person, does not make them more important than everyone else. Say hi. Ask a question. Connect. This is why we are at a conference, so don't be afraid to do it. Maybe avoid talking to them in the bathroom. :-)
5. Find time to unpack. I don't mean your suitcase, I mean what you learned that day. Find a quiet spot and just reflect on what you saw and how you might bring that to your school, district or classroom. Make some notes to yourself so that you can look back at them after the conference and remember what you were thinking when everything was fresh in your mind.
6. Check out the conference sessions and try to plan accordingly. I'd love it if you came to my sessions. I'm doing a session on MakerEd on Monday. Look at the schedule and add the sessions that interest you most. If there is more than one session you want to attend, see if there is a friend going and get their notes. There is never enough time to see everything, so it is important to plan ahead so you do not miss everything.
7. Visit the vendors. I always like to take time to visit the vendor hall and check out anything new and to just say thanks for the cool and innovative things they have brought to the classroom. I always end up with a couple of new gadgets I want to bring into the classroom or want to explore. They vendors help make conferences possible, so please stop by and check them out.
8. Vote with your feet. This staple of edcamp is important at conferences. Time is limited and you do not want to waste it in a session that is not what you hoped. Get up and go. You will not be offending anyone. You need to get the most out of your time at a conference and sitting in a session for an hour not learning anything is not a good use of your time. This is why it is good to have a backup session for each time slot in case you have a bad one. If you can't get into a back up session, go to one of the lounges and connect with others. Some of the best learning happens in the hallways.
9. Go out and have fun! After each day, there is fun to be had at many of the restaurants around the convention center. It is a great time to connect and talk about the things you have learned and make new friends. Some of my closest friends were made at a conference. Getting together and celebrating an end of a school year and the cool things you have learned is a must. Do that with other great educators at the end of each day and you will have a great conference.
If any other veteran conference attendees have other tips, please add them to the comment section. I hope all of you will take the time to stop and say Hi if you see me. I'd love to connect with all of you and learn something new.
Hugs and High Fives,