Crushing #SHAPEBoston

If you’re heading to #SHAPEBoston in March, you’ll want to get the most out of your time there. Wether you’re attending all five days or driving in for a day or two, it’s important that you maximize your conference experience to ensure that you, and ultimately your students benefit from all that is on offer in the City of Champions.

Last year’s #SHAPEMinneapolis blew me away by the sheer size, the expertise of the presenters, the exhibitor hall, and the large number of teachers from my PLN in attendance and it took me a few hours to get my bearings. So with that said, I reached out to my PLN this week, and so too did Bob Knipe, to ask the following question:


Get Organized: Many teachers suggested that the key to a successful conference was to ensure that you are organized. Be warned – this years conference will be paperless and you’ll have to print out your own schedule if you prefer holding paper. There will be no conference brochure printed out for you and you will have to rely on the SHAPE America App (iPhone download here) (iPad download here) (Android download here). There have been reports of the app being a bit ‘buggy’ so remember to refresh it regularly to ensure that it is up to date. Then you can use the app to search for presenters and add them to your favorites. Great organizational advice from teachers included:

@ClearlyCrystal: Pick out your sessions before you go, use the app & Network!

@BullisKari: Have multiple sessions picked out in case 1st isn’t what u thought it would be ur backup is planned ahead.

Network, Network, Network: Many teachers sang the praises of the networking opportunities on offer in Boston with Dave Gusitsch stating ” In addition to networking, know that just about everyone there is invested in moving quality forward! Ride the wave!

I remember being nervous of meeting some of the great educators with whom I had spent the past few years collaborating with on social media but once I had introduced myself it was obvious that we all shared the same goals and were passionate about teaching.

@yogaforpe: Don’t be shy, talk to people.  You never know the wealth/experience sitting next to you!

@misshartl: Network! Chat with the presenters and other educators in the sessions & at the socials. You will make some powerful connections!

@fit2Bsmart: Folks attend to learn & be inspired. introduce yourself, network & share. Attend Rock This Party (Thursday) GET ON TWITTER, A MUST!

@kniper1 Attendees need to meet new people to get the most out of the conference. Broaden your

@bartletthealth: Introduce yourself to the presenters whose workshops you attend. It might seem intimidating, but someday that might be you!

@MrOrencoPE: Don’t be intimidated or “star struck” by all the celebrities (i.e. all the amazing PE teachers)

Collate Your Notes: Consider how you will take notes while at the conference. Remember, if you have the app then you will be able to access presenter notes through that. My note taking is old school and I keep track of them in a Moleskine journal, others like to sketchnote but also look out for any crowd-sourced note taking that might get organized. I’ve seen that done before, and it’s a pretty impressive example of how our PE & Health community are great at coming together. But once you’ve made those notes…how will you act upon them? What will you do to #StokeTheFire when you return to school? When I present I tend to share a wealth of ideas and preface them by suggesting that it’s best to consider just one or two to try first. Here’s more advice from some experienced conference goers:

@bdevore7: Make a running list of things to try when you get back to school. Slowly work through them so you don’t get overwhelmed.

@MrHorne101: Have a way to organize the ideas you will want to try in your classes, but also make connections with presenters, teachers, etc.

@GHSaysRockChalk: I take pictures of things I want to remember & take all my notes in a notebook. I love paper and pens!

Look After Yourself: That advice was first given to me by Victoria Otto who suggested that it’s important to make sure that you stay rested during the conference. As tempting as it might be to behave like a kid in a candy shop and want to experience everything…you’ll soon burn out if you don’t carve out time for yourself and stay nourished. I’ll be in town from Monday to Sunday and involved with 3 presentations, so I know that I’ll need to plan my time in order to remain rested for each day ahead. Last year Sarah Gietschier-Hartman recommended keeping your backpack light, pack snacks and bring a water bottle. All great advice.

Socialize: Forget what I just said! Burn the candle at both ends and maximize your time in Boston. In fact, skip sleep if you need to. How often will you be surrounded by such a high calibre group of educators? Some of the best conversations and collaborative discussions will happen away from the conference center.

Make sure that you are engaged on Twitter and following the hashtags related to the conference: #SHAPEBoston and #SHAPECountdown.

You should also join the conversation on Voxer, which is already very engaging and will become more vocal as the conference commences. Look out for the social events – some are invite only, some are open to all but all will be a great opportunity to meet teachers from across the country. As mentioned above by Susan Flynn, try and make your way to the legendary Rock This Party event at Howl at the Moon. I missed it last year…and of course it was the night that everyone was talking about!

Quick Fire Tips:

  • Check out the keynote sessions on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday!
  • Make time to visit some Boston tourist sites. It’s a great city, so get out and see it.
  • Be seen in green! It’s St. Patricks Day while the conference is in session.
  • Represent! Bring clothing that represents your school, your state, or your basketball team – March Madness anyone??
  • Thank whoever made it possible for you to attend the conference. Administrators? Your family?

If you liked this blog post you might also like the following #slowchathealth posts:

Why Attend #SHAPEBoston and Anatomy of the Trip.

See you in Boston!

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