How to Make the Best Use of Time At a Conference

Educators attend conferences as a means of obtaining professional development. Engaging in ongoing learning is essential for educators to stay current in research and instructional best practices. No matter what type of conference educators attend, there are many ways to get the most out of attending a conference.

How to Make the Best Use of Time At a ConferenceThis blog post shares ways to maximize your time and effort before, during, and after the conference.

Before the Conference

Preparation is key. The more you know going into the conference, the more you are able to capitalize on all of the opportunities available to you. This allows you to be physically and mentally present at the conference, rather than spending your time studying the materials and using your brain power to create a plan on the fly.

  • Review the learning opportunities– Read through all the professional development sessions, keynote speeches, speaker panels, workshops, and any other learning opportunity available
  • Read up on presenters and speakers– Gain an understanding of who will be sharing knowledge and strategies by reading biographies of each presenter and/or speaker as well as visit their social media profiles or websites
  • Create your ideal schedule – Prioritize the sessions you desire to attend, knowing you might not be able to follow the schedule as planned, due to attendance capacity caps or other logistical obstacles
  • Familiarize yourself with the conference location – Visit the location website and review any maps to get a lay of the land so that you do not spend your time getting lost, rather getting where you need to be and learning the most you can

During the Conference

Just because you go to the conference to learn, doesn’t mean all the learning happens in the sessions. Be open to all that you will learn from the people there- and not just the guru’s. Be present and open to all who you meet. You never know where your next AHA will come from.

  • Know your next move– Review your ideal schedule often throughout the day to keep tabs on your next session and its location so that you can move seamlessly
  • Engage with conference goers– Grow your professional learning network by getting to know who is learning along with you, exchange contact details, and learn from one another
  • Be a tourist– Take all the pictures you want of the location, attendees, and other fun things happening at the conference
  • Meet the presenters/speakers– Don’t be shy; Introduce yourself and share what you learned from them as a way to give back for their time spent pouring into you
  • Attend sessions that will help you grow– As tempting as it is to fuel our strengths, spend time learning the things you don’t know or need further clarity on so that you leave stronger and wiser in instructional practice

After the Conference

The conference might be over, but your learning journey is just beginning. It’s time to take all that you learned and put it into practice.  Feel free to take a breather for a day or two as your brain might be overwhelmed from taking in so much information at once. When you’re ready to dive in, follow the tips below.

  • Review your notes– Refresh yourself of each session or opportunity you attended and highlight your takeaways for easy reference in the future
  • Make a BIG 3 list – Choose your top 3 goals you’d like to tackle over the next few months
  • Get feedback – Ask your coach or colleagues to watch you implement your new learning and provide feedback to spotlight what you’re doing well and ideas for how to strengthen the implementation
  • Celebrate your growth– No matter how small, celebrate the change from where you used to be to where you are now, because of what you are implementing in your classroom
  • Connect with your new friends– Don’t forget to reach out to your new PLN and catch up, hold each other accountable for making changes in your practice, and celebrate your growth as a whole

If you are looking for other ways to grow your knowledge and skillset, check out my micro learning opportunities here.





What is your favorite thing to do at an education conference?

About the author, Gretchen

I am a teacher trainer and coach. Working elbow to elbow with teachers and teacher leaders to ensure instructional proficiency and student achievement soar lights me up. We have a real need in our nation for strong educators to remain in the field. My blog, book, podcast, courses and instructional materials are geared towards empowering teachers (and those that lead them) to receive the support needed to grow and thrive today, tomorrow and always.