Excerpt from Article by Gary Hopkins
Education World® Editor-in-Chief
Copyright© Education World
BEFORE THE CONFERENCE TIPS
Which conference? Chances are there are several conferences you might like to attend. To choose the right one, check conference brochures or Web sites to learn more about the special focus and goals of each conference. Choose the conference you will attend by matching its goals to yours. If you are uncertain -- if there is not enough information available to make a solid decision about the value of a conference -- you might contact the sponsoring organization. Ask specific questions. Request a program from last year's conference.
DURING THE CONFERENCE
Take good notes. At each presentation, make notes about practical ideas you don't want to forget. Note things you need to go back and research, get more info about, or follow up on; your notes might include names of specific programs, a school's Web site, or available resources. Make notes on notepads instead of on the session handouts so you can use the presenter's handouts at a faculty presentation after you return from the conference. Keep your notes with the handouts to help you organize information for a follow-up presentation or report. Make notes on aspects of oral and poster presentations that contribute to their effectiveness; use those notes when you are developing your own presentations. Note those things that detract from effectiveness and avoid doing them.
Pick up handouts. If you can't get to a session you would like to attend -- because of time constraints or a conflict -- see if you can stop by that session and get the handouts that related to it.
Don't hesitate to "take." That's why you're at this conference. You are there to gather, or "take," the best ideas and the best strategies from all those gathered.
A picture is worth a thousand words. Take a camera to capture interesting displays to share with folks at home.
AFTER THE CONFERENCE
More time for reflection. Once home, take a look back at the goals you established for your attendance at the conference. Did you meet those goals? Did the conference meet your expectations? Is it a conference you might want to attend again in the future?
Follow up. Follow up by phone, email, or snail-mail with colleagues and presenters you met. Getting to know new colleagues and peers is one of the most rewarding components of conference attendance. You never know where that new relationship might lead!