Keep The Fire Burning

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 to keep the fire burning.


1. Get Some Rest: If you followed my advice from last year you are likely to be physically and mentally exhausted. Having burnt the candle at both ends I am concentrating on catching up on lost 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 inspired by: Jessica Peconi-Cooks)

2. Provide Feedback: While the conference is still in your head, why not provide feedback. Chris Hersl has asked that you email him directly with your comments at

Attendees can also provide feedback 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.

Did you see the thank you postcards that we sent from Tampa?

3. 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 fourth 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. 

4. 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 a conversation on Voxer and access the presenter notes from the conference site/app. Perhaps the most interesting reflection to come out since the conference was this from Adam Howell.

I returned straight back to school (avoiding the snow delays) so haven’t had the luxury of a spring break to reflect on the convention that I know some of my peers have this week.

My initial takeaways from my time in Tampa are that I must continue to improve my unit design starting with the needs of my students, the standards and the assessments before creating the individual lessons. I found the #SkillsBasedHealth (SBH) session from Holly Alperin and Sarah Benes (newly appointed to the SHAPE America board!) to be reaffirming – I know that SBH is the right way to go and I can continue to improve as a teacher by continuing with my efforts to implement.

My co-worker Andy Horne asks those in attendance at conventions “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? I aim to investigate further the Professional Learning Standards for Sex Education (PLSSE). as introduced at convention by Dan Rice and Nora Gelperin. The Standards provide up-to-date guidance designed to help educators and school administrators improve their ability to effectively implement sex education in schools and will serve as a checklist for me to identify my areas for growth.

5. 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 are often 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 #SHAPETampa inspire you to consider proposing to present at a future conference? Check out this #slowchathealth blog post:  Proposals

Joe Burch created a video to highlight his key moments from the convention:

Dave Carney also recorded podcast interviews while at the convention. Check out the podcast here.

Conference afterglow (2).png

3 thoughts on “Keep The Fire Burning

  1. Michelle Rawcliffe

    Well said. Upon arrival home, I immediately contacted my colleague in another district who shares my passion for skills based health education but was not able to attend SHAPE Tampa. We planned to meet so that I can share all that I gained. I sent my thank you post card because I would not have been able to attend without the support of others. The moment that made the most impact for me was attending a skills based health session and having all my work over the past 15 years affirmed. I knew I was on the right track despite my coworkers resistance. I am going to keep forging ahead with the momentum gained from Tampa.


  2. Pingback: The PE Playbook – April 2019 Edition – drowningintheshallow

  3. hous14

    Sorry for the late comment. Thanks for this post. Lots of good ideas. I always find if I try my favorite stuff from a conference rt away with my classes to see how everything goes. I feel like things tend to stick better that way. Thanks again!


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