The NCTE Convention is consistently one of the best professional development experiences of my year. But a conference of this size can be difficult to navigate–especially for new attendees–and unfortunately, not every interested teacher is able to attend.
Here are 12 ways to enjoy the convention, even if you can’t attend in person:
P.S. I am so excited about next month’s conference that I drew sketches (below) to accompany my tips. (Educator and author Tanny McGregor inspired me to start sketching at the 2016 NCTE Convention.)
If you’re thinking about attending:
It’s not too late! Ask your institution to sponsor your attendance. NCTE offers talking points, testimonials, budget spreadsheets, and sample letters to help you get approval to attend.
If you can’t attend in person (and even if you can):
Join the conversation on Twitter with the conference hashtag (#NCTE18). You can’t attend every session, but the Twitter feed will expose you to ideas that are resonating with others. And many presenters will post their slides and materials.
If you can attend in person (lucky you!):
Leave room in your suitcase for goodies snagged at the exhibit hall, or plan to ship a small box home from the convention center’s shipping store. Check the program for the schedule of author signings, which take place in the exhibit hall.
Take a lightweight bag that fits your favorite notebook and/or computer, pens, charger, water bottle, and a snack. Wear sensible shoes for long walks or sightseeing between sessions.
Bring healthy, portable snacks with you–nuts, protein bars, fruit–to fuel your mind between sessions. If possible, make coffee or tea in your hotel room to avoid long lines.
Read session descriptions carefully and pay attention to strand and topic identifiers to find sessions of interest. Check the index of presenters to track down must-see speakers. If you’re presenting, promote your session on social media.
Ticketed meals with keynote speakers have extra seats in the back for people who just want to hear the speaker (for free!).
Don’t skip section get-togethers (they have snacks), and the free, first-timers breakfast for first-time attendees.
If you have business cards, bring them with you. Consider printing a set with your name, institution, and contact info to exchange with people you’d like to connect with after the convention.
Leave the schoolwork at home! While it’s tempting to bring a stack of papers with you, give yourself the gift of this time to focus completely on your own professional development.
Expect to be overstimulated! Schedule pockets of time each day to regroup, rest, and reflect on your learning.
Set manageable goals for your teaching. Pick one idea to put into practice the next week in the classroom, and one idea to explore further with a colleague.
Looking for even more tips? Check out page 4 of the Growing Scholars Chronicle, a terrific newsletter assembled by graduate student members of ELATE (English Language Arts Teacher Educators).
Thanks for reading! I hope to see you at NCTE 2018!