7 Reasons to Attend Your Next Teachers’ Convention
My annual teachers’ convention is coming up, and I figured I would give people, who are debating whether or not they should attend their next convention, reasons why they should consider going. I wrote this hub with teachers and substitute teachers (aka supply teachers) in mind. However, many of the points below also apply to conventions held for other professions and associations.
1) A range of sessions is offered. While all conventions will be different, they do tend to offer a variety of sessions for participants. For example, my local convention has sessions on teaching specific subjects, maintaining health and wellness, art instruction (including drawing, film creation, and improvisation), dance (Zumba!), certification (Wilderness First Aid), field trips (e.g., to local historical sites), and many others.
Tip: You may need to pre-register for certain sessions, so be sure to check online or in your manual or handout for further details.
Tip: Bring your program book with you. It will help you find alternative sessions in the event that the session you wanted to attend fills up. Also, some conventions use the program book as admission into the convention. Phone ahead or check online for details pertaining to your convention.
Tip: Arrive to your sessions early. I remember arriving at a session that started at 9 am at 8:15 am; it was already full by 8:30 am! Every year that I have gone to the teachers’ convention, it has been the case that the number of people allowed in the room is equal to the number of chairs in the room. If you cannot find a seat, you will probably get kicked out of the room by “room patrols,” which enforce room capacity out of concerns for safety.
2) Keynote speakers. Many conventions have keynote speakers that can provide inspiration to teachers (e.g., Olympic athletes and other motivational speakers), a therapeutic laughing session (i.e., listening to a comedian), or entertainment (e.g., singers). These keynote speakers may talk at a breakfast before the convention, or throughout the day in rooms that can accommodate many people. At the convention I go to, keynote speakers often talk in rooms where 100s of people can listen to a presentation or performance.
3) It’s part of the job. Teachers with permanent contracts have an obligation to attend teachers’ conventions—it often says this right in the contract. As professionals, we teachers need to stay informed of the latest developments in education. The tips and strategies presented at sessions benefit all teachers understand the current generation of students and ways to further their learning. We also have a moral—and legal—responsibility to teach our students to the best of our abilities.
What about substitute teachers? Although substitute teachers are not required to attend conventions, the professional development offered provides subs with valuable information to help them improve their skills as a teacher—which is particularly helpful if they are looking to secure a long term position.
4) A perfect networking opportunity. If you are attending a local convention, chances are you are going to meet many other teachers in your area (possibly even some administrators, such as principals, vice and assistant principals). These contacts can prove invaluable if you are looking for a job in a different school, or perhaps a permanent teaching placement—for those with a temporary contract or stuck subbing. School hiring can be as political as hiring in other industries. It often comes down to who you know.
5) Meet-ups. Conventions provide teachers a lot of time and a meeting place to get together with current and past colleagues and acquaintances. Maybe between a morning and afternoon session, a few of you meet for lunch at a restaurant to catch up. Sure, you can discuss school-related topics, but talking with your fellow teaching colleagues can give you a chance to relax and enjoy the day. Perhaps you’ll even meet someone new!
6) Free Stuff. Conventions often have booths setup where people sell products and services; however, there is also usually a lot of free stuff that is given away. Sure, some freebies are only pencils and pens—but you may find free posters for the classroom, as well as evaluation copies of new textbooks.
Tip: Visit booths at the start of the convention, because if you wait too long, all of the freebies will be gone.
Tip: Save pens and pencils for use in the classroom and/or for use as prizes.
7) Fun. Some of the sessions can be a lot of fun. Not only can you learn a lot of new information, but there are so many people you can meet.
Tip: Make it a point to enjoy the convention. Running from session to session can be stressful. You can ensure your next convention is fun and rewarding by taking things as they come and enjoying the company of your fellow colleagues.
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