Professional Development Opinion

Get the Most Out of Conference Learning

By Learning Forward — December 05, 2013 2 min read
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Stephanie Hirsh

Learning Forward is thrilled to welcome our Annual Conference attendees to Dallas for THE Learning Conference! Beginning this weekend, more than 3,000 attendees will gather for five days of networking, inquiry, problem solving, and paradigm shifting with inspiring and challenging keynoters and thought leaders.

Learning Forward’s Standards for Professional Learning and our vision and beliefs have a place for conference learning, and below I share several suggestions for getting the most out of this or any conference experience:

Remember that experts are everywhere. Some of your most significant insights may come from your tablemate at lunch, someone who has gone through the challenge you are about to face and found a great solution. Keep track of your new peers and follow up with them for ongoing support.

Begin with a set of goals. Large conferences can be overwhelming with opportunities. What goals can you realistically attend to during this short time? Why did your system agree to send you to this conference? And how can you keep those goals at top of mind while staying open to the unexpected?

Plan ahead for how you will take your learning home. If you are attending a conference with a team, you’re in the best position to strategize about how to implement your learning. But even on your own, be prepared to identify specific actions you’ll take when you leave the conference. How will you share new knowledge with others? What outcomes will you identify that result from your attendance?

Find time to reflect every day. Learning requires time to process new information and ideas. Allow yourself the time and space to review what you’ve heard. Find a reflection partner if discussion helps you process new information. Take advantage of social media to put a new idea out into the world. Briefly journal after sessions to track first impressions and identify questions.

Schedule a conference follow up. Whether you set a Skype date with a new peer from the other end of the continent or volunteer to present to your local school board, you’ll reinforce your learning and find new ways to apply your knowledge with intentional follow up that extends beyond your first couple of weeks back at home.

As leaders in education, we seek to transform thinking, systems, and organizations. Through modeling, coaching, and facilitating learning, we build capacity in others. At our conference this year, we have designed incredible learning experiences for the conference, led by some of the best leaders in education. I’m looking forward to welcoming all attendees and I hope to see many new faces next year as well.

Learning Forward will tweet throughout the conference and invites you to do the same. Follow the conference and attendees as they share their learning with #learnfwd13.

Stephanie Hirsh
Executive Director, Learning Forward

The opinions expressed in Learning Forward’s PD Watch are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.