Then there are the sessions that are so unbelievably obvious, I couldn’t believe they created an actual session on it. Have you heard of google? It’s a great site to help your students answer their questions. Really, is it now? More than that, I couldn’t believe what some people actually get paid to research. Why do students solve a math problem on their calculator or by hand and why do they multiply versus adding. Yea, as a teacher it’s useful to know my students thinking so I can teach them better, but you’re getting paid to simply determine if students find shortcuts when solving problems. They can’t answer why, they have no conclusions about what their research means, they just know if a student found a shortcut. Useful, thanks. Can I get paid to study if students put their name on their handouts? I will at least discover why, probably because they forgot or who knows maybe they enjoy testing the teachers ability to match handwriting. They want to help prepare us in case we become detectives. See all the research I could do, questions we really need answered to make transformational change.
So yea, there will always been some pointless or boring sessions, but out of the 13 sessions I attended, I only found three that were this awful. As I mentioned, if you found a bad session you could just go anywhere else and find a new one. Which was great because you had so much choice, but you needed a game plan. You could not walk into this conference and wing the day expecting to get the most out of it. At check in, when I was handed the list of sessions in a book bigger than some of my college textbooks, I knew I needed a plan. I Identified ALL the sessions I was interested in going to hour by hour and created a schedule. Why, well first I didn’t want to flip though the giant text book 20 times a day and second I avoided going to five sessions on formative assessments, which almost happened to me. Like most things, a little planning goes a long way. It’s easy to waste your time, but it’s worth if you don’t.
Why was it so worth it? There were three sessions that changed me, inspired me, and still have my mind turning days later. These sessions built a fire in the pit of my stomach, igniting ideas and making me excited to get to work. The presenter had the ability to inspire me to turn their words in to action. I want to make immediate change in late April that will impact that last few months of the year. One talked about content to teach, another talked about management, and the last simply talked about how to teach patterns, but they all talked with passion that was contagious to everyone in the room. I have already dreamed about the changes I want to make in my class Monday morning and changed my lessons to reflect that. I started writing my syllabus and researched materials I want to use next year. I have even reached out to my principal about presenting information to my school. When we spend every day in our schools surrounded by negativity or lack of engagement, it is easy to get discouraged. There is value in attending a conference such as this, even if it’s during the week, even if it’s just to remind us why we choose this profession. We can bring back the lessons we learn, but we can also bring back some positivity that is desperately needed in late April.