This week I'll attend a teacher conference. It's been about a year since I attended a big conference like this one. To get the most out of a teaching/learning conference it's best to prepare.
First, I like to make sure that everything in school is organized and ready for my departure. I'll spend the early part of the week cleaning up and organizing the learning materials for the substitute teacher. I'm leaving one of those enjoyable, stand-alone units that the children will enjoy and the substitute will be able to teach easily.
Next it's important to gather the materials I'll need to access the conference best. Usually these conferences include a lot of walking so I'll make sure to bring really comfortable shoes and clothes. These conferences also typically ask you to stand up and present in front of colleagues new and known, so I'll bring clothes that look good and clothes that I feel comfortable in. There are lots of quick transitions in conferences like these so I'll need a bag that's easy to carry or pull and one that holds my tech equipment. I really like using my laptop best for teaching/learning events, yet it's a bit cumbersome so I may use my Nook or iPad and phone instead. I need to think more on that.
I like to prepare mentally too. What do I hope to achieve at this conference? What information am I looking to bring back?
This is a national and perhaps international conference, so my first order of business will be to listen to the voices of teachers who represent a large range of school contexts and focus. I want to hear about what's happening in education. What are the main initiatives taking root? What are the main problems holding teachers back from doing their best jobs? What resources are truly impacting what teachers are able to do for students?
Next, I'm going to dig in deeply with regard to math education. What's happening on the national and international scene with regard to math education? Am I keeping up? What do I need to do to develop my program to meet the potential that exists for teaching and learning in math?
I also want to listen carefully to how teachers across the country are reaching out to our most challenging-to-teach students. What models, resources, and structures are empowering those students towards meaningful, successful learning opportunities?
If appropriate, I'll be happy to share my perspectives, resources, and practice too. My system has many positive processes in place, processes such as RTI, PLC, shared teaching models, technology integration, and developing professional learning that helps teachers in the system where I work to do a good job.
Finally, I'll leave lots of room for the unexpected. Usually when I attend a teaching/learning conference some of the best learning is the unexpected learning, learning that changes the way I think and see my work, and learning that invigorates the days ahead.
I'll be sure to write more on this conference in the days to come, but for now, it's time to prepare.