It is coming upon one of my favorite times of the year! It is like a holiday for the techy teacher in us all….FETC!!!! FETC is one of the premier conferences for educators. The Future of Educational Technology Conference in Orlando is the GO TO place for educators from around the world, and not just because it is in Florida in January! Where else can you meet fellow teachers who are passionate about educating young minds, finding technology to enhance their lessons, and locating all the giveaways to take back to their fellow educators and students?
This year my personal focus for the conference is blended/personalized learning and finding educator sessions. As a school, we are committed to personalize learning for each of our students. We are working with an amazing group of schools and organizations to create a blended learning program that meets the needs of all of our students in our school. While exploring the workshops, concurrent sessions, and posters session, I have looked for offerings that focus on these topics. I have found quite a few and I am excited to learn more.
But what happens if I get into one of these sessions and the material is something that doesn’t work for me? Maybe I know the tools they are sharing or their idea of personalized doesn’t fit what we are doing? Then I have to use the Rule of Two Feet. At EdCamps around the world the Rule of Two Feet is encouraged. If a session doesn’t meet your needs, quietly excuse yourself and find a session that works for you. My time is limited and valuable and if I am not getting what I need, I have to find it elsewhere. Maybe I want to visit three meetings during one session time? Then I go and sit toward the back, get what I can and move on. This isn’t rude if you do it quietly and respectfully. Conferences are an expensive undertaking, so getting as much material as possible during your time is understandable.
The second part of my plan is finding educator sessions. Experts in the field are great, but I prefer to learn with people in the classroom who have recent, personal experience. I have found that the best times for this is during poster sessions. Posters give me the opportunity to speak to presenters about their work and ask questions easier than in a big room session. Vendor sessions are fun, experts give great ideas, but current practicing educators give the best information for practical applications.
Some other tips that may help you:
- Bring a jacket because it is cold in many of the session rooms- like frostbite cold.
- Wear comfy clothes and shoes. You will be moving around every hour or so.
- Don’t overload your bag. You will pick up giveaways from vendors and you don’t want to be loaded down before you start.
- Bring business cards and make connections.
- Bring an external battery, cords, and possibly an extension cord your device will drain fast!
- Make a plan but be flexible. This is a big conference and sometimes sessions fill up fast, have a back up plan.
- Put your device down and make personal connections with fellow educators. It can be intimidating, but making connections will help you find people who are trying the same things as you. You can continue the conversations after the conference and build your PLN!