It seems like it’s always conference season in the education field. From state-to-state and subject-to-subject, there are many different events for educators to meet and learn about the latest trends and products in the industry. Time is always an issue, and since we can’t attend every conference, the ones we choose must be used to our greatest advantage.
Here are 5 tips to ensure you are making the most out of your time spent at education conferences this year:
Know the Exhibit Hall and Panels in Advance
The most important preparation work you can do for any conference is know exactly what to expect. The days are long, and it’s easy to become overwhelmed with information and plain old exhaustion. Knowing who the vendors are beforehand will help allow you to navigate the show floor with a sense of control. Visit the booths that you prioritize first, but make sure you keep your eyes open for surprises. The same is true for panels. Create your schedule in advance, so you won’t be lost trying to decide what to see next. Maximize your time with a thought-out plan.
Network with as Many Educators and Vendors as You Can
Conferences are full of people just like you, looking for the next innovation or theory that will help you, your colleagues, and your students succeed. Keep in mind,they are also looking to meet you! Strike up conversations with people sitting around you in conferences, make friends with the vendors (as it could lead to big discounts down the line), and of course, make sure to hit up the happy hours. It may seem like the time to relax, but people are still looking to make connections – be sure you’re apart of it.
Be Flexible (Your Plan isn’t Written in Stone, Nor Should it Be!)
I know we said earlier you need to have a plan, but it’s almost as crucial to remember your plan isn’t an unbreakable contract. You will make discoveries along the way that will change your schedule. You may hear the buzz over a panel you didn’t initially have interest in seeing, or you may meet educators who fill you in on an amazing vendor that you can’t miss. Remember, one of your roles at an education conference is to be a detective. You’re searching for all the clues to help solve the case of how to make your school and classroom stronger. Don’t let any clue go unturned!
Stay Connected Via Social Media
Most conferences are using social media as a way to contact presenters and vendors before, during, and after the conference. Keep up-to-date for any changes in the conference schedule, as well as instant feedback from other attendees. Be involved in the virtual conversation so you can meet the educators you may have missed in person. The conference will live on via hashtags and you will continue to gain valuable information along the way. Plus, you never know when a vendor booth may have a special giveaway announced solely on their Twitter account! It pays to be connected.
Collect Information for Your School and Colleagues
Remember, you aren’t navigating the conference just for your personal gain. Your colleagues back at school are counting on you to collect as much information as you can so you can share it with them. This will also help push you to step outside your normal comfort zone, as you’ll be able to take time to learn about subjects and products that you know others will want to hear about when you return to school. Every contact you meet, every panel you see – remember, you’re a reporter collecting the valuable conference information for everyone who can’t attend.
Best of luck at all your conferences this year! And please, let us know some of your tips for navigating education conferences.