I work in a building full of great, and I mean, great educators. I also have some amazing administrators who do a great job of balancing their expectations of us. While they want us to work in teams, they still give us the freedom to create much of our curriculum; or our teaching strategies. The educators I work with are adaptive, innovative, and do a great job taking what’s required and putting it into the works. It still amazes me though, that across the state, there are teachers who have never and may never attend a conference dedicated to their area of learning.
I attend our state conference every year. It’s always in the fall, and art educators must know how hard it can be to get a day off, so we never take more than one weekday to make it happen. This year, it’s Fri-Sun in Council Bluffs, joint with Nebraska? Why attend your state conference? I’d say “why not” but then I’d be wasting your time. Conferences/conventions are an essential way to stay up to date, informed, and pumped up about what you do. Here are just a few reasons why I think you should consider your professional conferences.
1) Networking – Over a 100 people at even the smallest conference can build a network. Especially in departments where you may be the only member of your team (like I am), professional networking can be a great tool in the future. Twitter, Facebook, WordPress, Ning and more can help you foster great relationships that will come in handy during stressful or tremendously great experiences you are having as an educator.
2) Lesson Ideas – No matter if it’s planned or not, the event is a great place to share ideas. You may take many ideas and hybrid them together, but either way, the best way to become an effective teacher is by listening and trying out new ideas.
3) Technology – Technology is a huge part of education today; working at the these conferences can gain anyone insight on how to make technology work for them; odds are that someone there knows how to use technology and double odds; they’re willing to help you learn. If you don’t have some form of technology in your classroom, you will struggle in the future.
4) Motivation – I for one, always get remotivated once I get back from the conference because I’m around people that think like me and are in education for the same reasons I am. I am an art teacher, so granted, I’m a little weird but when I find myself at a conference full of other pleasantly unique people, I am reminded that I’m right where I need to be.
5) Fun – Let’s face it; a little break from the norm and a lot of socializing can go a long way.
Now, I’m not saying that these are the ONLY reasons why you should attend a conference for your educational area but they are a few and I think they are important to consider. If you haven’t yet attended a conference that helps your area, I encourage you, no, will you to do so. Most the time your district will cover some if not all of the cost; and if the entire group of teachers you team with go, sometimes they’ll even put your room and board up. Go. Now!