Wednesday, July 12, 2017

TECH BASICS: 6 ESSENTIALS FOR SURVIVING A TECH CONFERENCE


Over the past few years, I’ve had the privilege to attend MANY conferences and professional development courses. In fact in highschool, I was on the yearbook committee and attend two conferences my senior year!
While I know attending conferences can be few and far between #heftypricetag, when YOU DO get the opportunity to go to a conference, you need to be prepared to get the most out of it.
With my experiences, I curated an essentials list when surviving a conference. Specifically a tech conference.

#1  KNOW THE CONFERENCES’ TOOLS
Every conference I have been to sends out information prior to attending. These aren’t the emails that you want to send straight to your trash can! You can even create a special “Professional Development” folder in your inbox to help organize this vital information.
Bigger conferences typically have an app for you to download with extra tidbits and class information. Often times a map is provided to help you navigate throughout the day.



Most likely, there is a website for you to access the information as well. Take the time at least a few days before to read through everything and keep track of the sessions that spark your interest.

#2  PLAN WITH A PURPOSE IN MIND

At tech conferences especially, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by all the cool new ideas. Before attending, pick a theme with 1 or 2 big topics and go with it.
It’s easy to get FOMO and feel like you didn’t listen to EVERY NEW IDEA out there. There have been times at conferences {before I took this approach}, where I would second-guess the tools I am using and need to use the next best thing.
Girl, please don’t get FOMO on me. I know you are already doing what you think is best for kids. You just are looking for enhancements to the great work that takes place in your room.



When you pick an overall theme before attending, it will be easier to connect ideas if the majority of your courses align.
For instance, maybe next year you are getting a class set of Chrome Books and it’s your first time using G-Suite for Education apps. In that case, look for sessions that can help you best utilize that tool in your classroom and reach their maximum potential.  
If you’re going with other people, try your best to divide and conquer. There are times when it’s appropriate to go to the same session if there is a tool your whole school will be using.



It’s best though, to spread out and then come back to collaborate and condense all of the ideas. Especially if you go to ISTE,
This might sound harsh, but it’s o.k. to leave a session if you don’t feel it’s what you thought. The presenters want to give you info that successful and inspired and if you’re not feelin' it, I’m sure they won't take it too personally. {I surely haven’t when I have presented!}

#3  GET DIGITALLY ORGANIZED
I know you might think that since you are going to a tech conference, you need to have something fancy to keep track of all the wonderful ideas.
Lemme tell you something. You don’t.
You DO however, need to get digitally organized beforehand. It’s really distracting to your learning while trying to create this in your first session.
You know me. I’m always trying my best to streamline my digital work {which you can read all about that here}.
Simply create a Google Drive folder and name it for the conference you are attending. This will house any presentations and resources presenters will provide for you.



Next, create a Google Doc note sheet to type your notes as you go and add any presentation links, websites and resources.
Oh! And you know what?! I already created a cute note taking sheet that you can use for your next conference! Click here to grab it FOR FREE from my TeachersPayTeachers shop.
Also, bonus points for you if you make your Google Drive folder and note sheet shared among your teacher besties who are also attending the conference with you!


#4  WHERE’S THE FOOD?
This sounds really lame and obvious, but every conference I’ve been to has been completely different. I’ve been to one where they provided breakfast and coffee all day {LOVE!}.
Another one, provided breakfast & lunch, but it was the same each day.
Another conference didn’t provide breakfast but provided an amazing lunch daily.
Another, no food was provided, but a {gross} food court was available.

So, get to know the food accommodations. Like I’m saying, it can always depend. Of course, if you have allergies, this is especially important to you.
One tip that works for EVERY conference is to bring an empty water bottle. You can refill it throughout the day and carry it with you from session to session.

#5  CREATE A TECH TOOLKIT
You do want to carry as light as possible during these tech conferences. If you can, a tablet or Ipad helps ease the carry load when walking around.
Many tech conferences let you play around with the tech tools and you want to be prepared. I’ve noticed this trend, thus, I created a little tech toolkit with the essentials.
Grab one of those little freebie bags you always get when buying make-up and fill it with…



-wireless mouse
-pens
-stylus
-Ipad/laptop charger
-small notepad
-phone charger
-earbuds
Even after the conference, you can keep this in your teacher bag. All these items come super handy!

#6  GET SOCIAL
Tech conferences especially are all about the social media. I know you’re techy enough already where you have a Twitter, Instagram & Snapchat account.
They will post it all around the conference, but take pics and post your thoughts about the conference while tagging them with the hashtag that’s provided.
Many sessions will even give you sneak peeks of what’s to come if you attend theirs. {I sure did when I presented about Seesaw. Check out my Twitter feed and how I did that here.}
It’s fun to connect and see what other teachers and experiencing at the same conference you are at!


After reading through my tips, which ones do you think are the most valuable? What are some tips you would add?


Also, remember to grab your FREE note taking sheet from my shop to help you stay organized at your next conference.




I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below, on Instagram {@marvelousmsm} or in our Exclusive Facebook Group.

Stay marvelous! 


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