What do you do once you’ve returned home after an awesome conference? What should you do next to ensure that the post-conference ‘feels’ inspire you to get the most out of your trip? Here’s my list of 5 things to do during the conference afterglow.
Get Some Rest: If you followed my advice you are likely to be physically and mentally exhausted. Thankfully I have spring break this week so I have the opportunity to catch up on some much needed rest. My advice for the days after the trip would be to get your sleep pattern back to normal, eat some healthy food and get some exercise. I find that at conferences it’s easy to eat unhealthily, sample a few too many local beers, and attend a lot of socials (and rightfully so). If you don’t recover from the excesses of the conference, you’re no good to anyone. (Exhaustergy photo credit: Jessica Peconi-Cooks)
Provide Feedback: While the conference is still in your head, why not provide feedback. The #SHAPENashville conference feedback form can be found here. Was the conference everything you hoped it would be or are there suggestions that you can make to ensure that next year’s conference is even better. In addition to contacting the organizers, were there any presenters that impressed you? Consider sending them a thank you message, which goes a long way, strengthens your connection with that person and might lead to future collaborative efforts. Oh, and while you’re at it – thank whoever made it possible for you to attend. It’s becoming increasingly harder to find funds to attend conferences so strike while the iron is hot, and maybe start the conversation regarding attending next years conference.
Follow Up With Those You Met: There’s no doubt that the national conference attracts some outstanding educators and this year was no different. With this being my third national conference, and having traveled a great deal over the past few years I felt like I was surrounded by friends. It was great to catch up with those from my PLN who I interact with regularly online but only get to see in person sporadically. But despite strengthening existing relationships I also met some great educators for the first time, many with whom I will be following up with a DM or Vox in the coming weeks. I’m always looking to boost my PLN and I met future professionals, teachers with a few years under their belt, and retired professors, all of whom I can learn from. Did you get a business card, or follow someone new on Twitter? Was there a vendor that caught your eye. Now might be the best time to touch base with them.
Reflect: As a practitioner of skills-based health I know the value of reflection, encouraging my students to ask themselves – was my goal appropriate, was my advocacy message effective, did I make the correct decision? Take time over the next week or so to take stock, look through your notes, ponder the post-conference tweets, engage in the chat on Voxer and access the presenter notes from the conference site. Perhaps the best reflection I’ve seen this week was the blog post from Shrehan Lynch.
Although I’ll use my spring break to fully reflect, I know that I want to go back into my lesson planning and hone my assessment skills. Additionally, inspired by Terri Drain’s PhysEd Talk I want to take time to sketch out my physical literacy journey, similar to the way that she shared with us. (Physical Literacy Journey sketch credit: Terri Drain)
My co-worker Andy Horne asks those in attendance “What one thing will you takeaway and try when you return to school.” You will have seen so many great ideas, but which idea will be the one that you lead with? For me, I want to dive into baseball and cricket* resources I picked up, plus the latest lessons from the Dove self-esteem project.
Pass on Your Knowledge to Co-workers: Believe me, I know only too well how difficult it can be to get permission to travel to a conference and I’m certain that many in attendance had to leave co-workers behind. Although you will have attended sessions that allowed you to grow as a teacher, I’m sure you also looked out for new ideas that would help your students..and those that teach them. Don’t keep all of your new found knowledge to yourself. Arrange a brownbag lunch meeting, or even find time to physically take your co-workers through some of the new activities that you saw. At my school we will often be asked to create a Powerpoint slide to share at our next meeting. This type of positive interaction can only help, and hopefully your co-workers will reciprocate when it’s their turn to attend a conference.
So what next? For me, it’s the final quarter of the school year. I know I’ll try and insert some of the conference greatness into my final 10 weeks or so, but it will be over the summer where I’ll really be able to sit down and find ways in which I can improve my instruction for next year.
What was your best moment(s) from the conference? Feel free to share in the comments section below, or online – there’s some great conversation on Twitter right now. It would seem that we are all keen to keep the fires burning, drive the conversation about effective instruction, and improve the experience of our students. That’s why I love my PLN!
Did #SHAPENashville inspire you to consider proposing to present at a future conference? Check out this #slowchathealth blog post: Proposals
*Text ‘rookie’ to 31996 to access USA Cricket’s ROOKIE LEAGUE free online resources.