Share! We're all in this together!
Yeah. That is what I learned today. The keynote was actually not as crowded as I’ve seen before, but in general I’ve noticed that what I considered “good” session topics are what EVERYONE considers good session topics. The first session I thought I was going to attend a session about Classroom Management and 90% Target Language. This session said it was based on Zaretta Hammond’s writing (and since I was supposed to be reading her book for staff book club at school, seemed like a GREAT choice). There were people standing 4 deep…outside the room! And it looked like standing room only from what I could see IN the room. So, if you want to see a session, get there early. During that time slot I bopped around to a couple of other sessions before finding my 4th choice. And ducking out of that a bit early did let me get into the line at the restaurant before everyone got there.
One of the best things I did at ACTFL was meet up with a couple of colleagues in the hallway and chat about what we heard in a session. DO NOT UNDERESTIMATE the value of this processing. Why? Quite simply, because your friends are probably human.
I don’t know about you, but although I’m a presenter who sometimes feels like I’ve got some expertise, while watching others present at ACTFL, I tend to feel like THEY ARE SUPERHUMAN. They bring a mystique to their presentations. Their activities are SO dazzling that you just don’t even comprehend how to do what they do. You watch in awe, and feel totally inspired about what you will be able to do. And 25 minutes later, all you know is you’ve got a warm glow of inspiration and absolutely NO IDEA what that activity was! Talk with other participants about what you saw and how YOU can use it. And do this right after the session. Heck, if it’s good enough of an idea, duck out of a session right then to work on turning your inspiration into action.
I know that the temptation to attend conferences with colleagues and then divide & conquer to double or triple the number of the sessions’ learning that you can bring back home. But 30 foggy ideas aren’t better than 10 really well-developed ones. Heck, 10 foggy ideas aren’t better than 1 solid one. Attend sessions with a colleague so that you can actively engage in #2 above–the processing chat.
I hate people. Well, not all people, but masses of people. I missed out on a couple of sessions that interested me this year because the rooms were crowded. My butt was dragging on Sunday because I stayed up WAY too late on Saturday night. I ate more bread-wrapped foods than I usually do, plus coffee and breakfast pastry. Every time I go to a conference like this, I don’t drink enough water and my lips get chapped from the dry air. Don’t be me. Get sleep. Drink water. Find a way to get movement and fruit. Don’t avoid a session because it’s full. Take care of YOU. Do what YOU need.
I am not a paragon of organization. I know that may shock you coming from someone whose ACTFL reflections are coming out almost a MONTH after the conference. But, yeah. So what I’ve started doing, rather than just having a notebook somewhere that I put my info in, is getting things digital. I keep hearing about Google Keep that a lot of people love for this purpose. What I do? I tweet. And I only “favorite” tweets that have things in them that I want to remember. I create twitter events to group all my tweets from ACTFL and I can go back and find what I wrote, and who I wrote about. I also have taken more in-depth notes on a simple Google Doc. Next year, totally going to try this Google Keep thing.
Share! We're all in this together!