This week’s blog post presents you with 5 reasons to attend your state AHPERD convention. Although I have used my state of Illinois as the subject of the post, feel free to copy, paste and adapt it to suit the needs of teachers in your state. It’s conference season, so let’s encourage as many of our peers to attend the best local annual professional development opportunity on offer to us!
We are fortunate to have a state convention that is the envy of teachers from across the country. We have over 3000 attendees, quite a few from surrounding states, a packed Mega Center full of vendors, and a dynamic list of presenters including young teachers, experienced professionals and nationally recognized speakers. I have traveled to Pheasant Run, St Charles every year since moving to Illinois to teach and have progressed from attendee to presenter and now find myself in the fortunate position of Health VP for IAHPERD and responsible for attracting health presenters to fill over 30 time slots.
Let me share with you my Top 5 Reasons for Attending #IAHPERD17 in November!
1.Investing In Yourself: How often do you get to invest in YOU? With all of the other things that pull on your time, the desire to deliver the best lessons to your students, plus the pull of friends, family and other commitments…getting away from it all and surrounding yourself with professional development opportunities is so rewarding. You know best what you need to develop as a teacher and what your students need to develop the skills, knowledge and confidence to enjoy healthy, meaningful physical activity. You are spoiled for choice when it comes to the depth and breadth of the sessions offered at our conference. With an easy online registration process, and a printed program of events my tip to first time attendees is always – get there early and take a good look at what sessions you think will suit your needs. Circle them, and get there early as despite our best efforts sometimes those rooms fill up fast!
2.Becoming Inspired By New Ideas: As I am involved with the conference organizing I have already seen the sessions that have been proposed and I appreciate the efforts of our PE, Health and Dance community to continue offering new topics. My favorites are those quick-fire sessions that offer a wealth of great ideas that have been proven to work in the classroom or gym. My tip here is – don’t try to implement everything that you see at conference. Try just one or two ideas that you can adapt for the needs of your students. It will be difficult not to be overwhelmed by the amount of inspiration and so the fact that all resources are shared with attendees via the website means that you can immerse yourself in the sessions without having to take copious notes. My hope is that you will be sufficiently inspired that you will consider proposing to present at future conferences.
3.Getting Out Of Your Comfort Zone: Learning in a new environment is invigorating. It’s almost too easy nowadays to access free professional development by listening to a podcast on a treadmill, or reading a blog post during a planning period at school. Being at a conference and immersing yourself in each session gets you out of that comfort zone and makes the whole experience more enjoyable and easier to remember. I’m not a dancer but I always check out the dance sessions, and some of my more memorable conference experiences have been those in which I’ve actively participated in a new activity. Learning in a new space can be daunting and a first time attendee might be blown away by the size of the conference, the number of people, and the packed Mega Center but the experience of a state conference is unforgettable. President Brian Van Mersbergen’s theme for #IAHPERD17 is ‘In The Zone”. How will you get in the zone?
4.The Networking Opportunities: Being present, in the same location, with so many passionate educators cannot be beat. The buzz and energy in the room is second to none. Without the restriction of 140 characters, or the Voxer app there is nothing better than meeting teachers face to face, hearing their stories and trading ideas. I maintain that the best take aways from a conference don’t come from the scheduled sessions, but from conversations sitting next to someone new, or at a lunch table with teachers from other schools. #IAHPERD17 will be a great way to develop new relationships and form new friendships.
5.Improving Your Program: There can be no better opportunity to get ideas, learn skills, and find new ways to motivate and empower your students. Teachers of the Year, experienced presenters, and dynamic educators will offer sessions on standards-based instruction and assessments that will help your students develop physical and health literacy skills. Your students have diverse needs and #IAHPERD17 will inspire you to try something new with them as soon as you return back to school. While you are there, find out about the Jump Rope for Heart and Hoops for Heart program, enquire about how your school can become a Blue Ribbon School, find an IAHPERD Board Member and see how you can apply for grants or find ways to advocate for your program. My tip – you get out of a conference what you put into it. I hope to see you there!