Sharing the Wealth: Presenting at State and National Conferences
As I mentioned in a previous post, all of you have outstanding ideas. My challenge to you all this week is to “share the wealth.” Teachers have a difficult time actually believing that what they are doing in the classroom is innovative, creative, or more effective than what the teacher across the hall is doing; however, I am here to let you know that everyone of you have loads to contribute to the teaching community.
For the first 3 or 4 years of my career I felt like it was my duty to create “original” lessons for my students. In time I realized that it was a perfectly acceptable practice to use others’ ideas and simply tweak them to make them work for my students and classroom teaching style. Over time, and many, many conferences, graduate classes, and professional development sessions later, I understood that taking bits of all different ideas and combining them is how most teachers have taught for generations.
So here is where your challenge begins. I know that you all have outstanding ideas for effectively teaching concepts and skills to your students. With that stated, it is time for you; yes you, to think about presenting your best ideas at professional conferences. Many of you may already be adept at this type of thing; however, I am willing to bet that many of you have thought about it, but have not initiated an attempt at submitting a proposal.
There are many state conferences that you could look into first. For example, most states host technology conferences for educators (this was one of my first conferences to present at). You all creatively infuse technology into your lessons on a daily basis. Now think of some of your best lessons, and consider presenting those ideas with your colleagues (no one says you have to do this alone). From the state circuit, I want you to consider national conferences. For instance, National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM), National Science Teachers Association (NSTA), National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE), National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS), and the National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC) all have their annual conferences some time in November. I know what you are thinking, “a little too late to make a proposal for this year,” and you’re right. However, the proposal cycle for 2010 will quickly be upon you and you want to have your proposal written out and ready to submit. Some proposals are already being accepted for next October, NSTA for instance.
This year I am presenting at the 56th annual National Association for Gifted Children in St. Louis. It is a conference that I attend every year, and finally, decided that I had a few good ideas that I would propose for presentation. You can so do this! Here are some tips I have for making proposals to present at local, state, or national conventions/conferences:
1. Catchy title- Like grant writing it is your hook, so engage the reader of your proposal.
2. Relevance- Think about trends and issues in education and what you are doing to address those every day in your classroom.
3. Success- Review those lessons that you love to teach. Think about how you enhance or modify them every time you teach them and how your students connect and love the lessons. Those are the ones that are worth sharing.
4. Comments from other teachers- Recall the projects and lessons that you have taught in which your colleagues were very complimentary and impressed.
5. Wide audience- The larger an audience your lessons can reach the better. Think about flexibility and modification for lower and upper grade levels.
I hope that you are willing to share a little of your expertise at the next state or national conference. Sharing our best and most effective ideas is not only exciting, but benefits our students and their learning needs. Good luck and I hope to attend one of your sessions at one of the next national gifted, science or math conferences I attend. You’re all awesome educators!