Monday, November 2, 2009

How to have a productive conference

In honor of my friend, Cyndy, who will be attending the American Association of School Librarians conference for the first time this week, I have made a list of my own indispensibles, both tangible and attitudinal:

The tangible:

Business cards for new connections and pre-printed return-address-label-style stickers for vendor sign-ups and drawings, so you don't spend all your time writing your particulars.

A snuggly shawl for too-cold rooms, comfy layers and your favorite hold-all.

Your laptop, fully charged, with an extension cord for your adapter.

Google docs versions of your itinerary and conference schedule with sharing enabled.

The intangible:

Openness to speak to everyone you sit down beside. These are YOUR people. For introverts like myself, this can be the hardest, but ultimately most rewarding aspect of conferencing.

Committment to get the most out of the sessions, the backchannels, and the exhibits. This will require GTD or some sort of organizational scheme to separate out what you need to hang onto versus that which isn't right for you, right now.

The wherewithal to get up and leave the session if it's not meeting your needs without guilt.

I will be working on the last point in particular. Even at the national conference level, most professional development for school librarians is still undifferentiated. I have found that I get more from sessions on topics about which I know absolutely nothing rather than choosing those attractive-soundings sessions which touch upon areas in which I am already working. I get more from stretching myself into new areas of our profession rather than sitting in sessions which are replicating information I am gleaning from my PLN on a daily basis. So if you could lead a session on the topic, I would say sitting in it is probably not the best use of your precious professional development time....

see you in Charlotte!

1 comment:

  1. Good call on the laptop + extension cord, but add two more:

    * An Ethernet cable in case you're stuck in a room without wifi, or unusably slow wifi. The room will probably have a wired outlet, anyway.

    * A cube tap, like this These are invaluable in airports like O'Hare where there are almost no outlets. If you find an outlet, but both plugs are full, you can still share with those already plugged in, if they can withstand a ten-second loss of power.