So you are off to a conference, free from the constraints of home life and planning/teaching in your classroom for a few days, relaxing away from the normal stresses of life! The question is though - how do we get the best out of our time away from this daily life when we are in a learning environment and the focus is on just that - learning?
RULE #1 - plan
The only way to ensure that you can get to experience the conference in its full glory, is to plan carefully what you WANT to get out of it. Know the area where the conference is and arrive early on the first day and where possible, to each session, so that you are able to get a good seat and be there from the beginning of each session. Plan what you most want to see, hear and experience so that you are most likely to get to do these things!
RULE #2 - prepare
Read as much material as you can before you go - from maps and overviews to going onto Twitter or other social networks and 'doing your homework' so that you know which speakers are really going to be relevant to where you are at in your learning journey.
RULE #3 - use your PLN
Check out the people who you know will give you professional opinions and advice and ask the tough questions - has anyone been to this conference before? What do they recommend by way of experiences, speakers and sessions. Seek and find!
RULE #4 - go ready to learn
When you go, make sure that you have no distractions - turn off devices for the duration of each session unless you are tweeting because of the session! Make sure that your focus is entirely on your own learning - you have set aside this time to get the most learning out of this time that is possible so you really want to give yourself every opportunity to do this.
RULE #5 - ENJOY!
Make sure you sleep well, get out and enjoy the local area, meet other like-minded people, eat out, have a relaxing time and thoroughly emerse yourself in the fullness of the dinners, celebrations, prize-draws and getting some new networking going!
Being able to step out of the classroom and develop new learning networks as well as to synthesize new learning is healthy and vitally important as a growing teacher.