15 March 2013

ASCD 2013: Ticket to Ride

It's that time of year again---time for ASCD's Annual Conference. Last year, I was unable to attend in person, but took part in the virtual conference. This year, I'm back in the saddle again...ready to share my learning from Chicago with you.

Each time I attend one of these events, I can't help but think about the role of conferences in an age of "anytime, anywhere" learning. If I can engage in Pajama PD at home...or make connections via social media...are one-shot conferences still relevant? The short answer is "yes." I won't claim that every educator should attend one or will get more out of it than another form of PD---but for the 10K people here (and those who wish they could be), this is still a viable form of professional learning.

For example, I met an instructional coach from St. Louis this evening. She's here on her own at her very first ASCD conference. She's in a job that she hasn't provided her with access to support and is here to grow her background knowledge.

I also chatted with a college professor from New York who wants to focus on how schools are thinking about Common Core State Standards. He has attended many ASCD conferences over the last 30 years and keeps coming back because of how this event adds to his base of knowledge.

And then there was a couple at a restaurant who noticed us paging through our conference planners and struck up a conversation. They were retired principals mentoring a cohort of new administrators and were attending the conference from Tennessee and excited about the reflective conversations ahead.

As for me, as my role as an educator has changed over the years, so have my learning needs. This time, I am looking for sessions on rural schools and developing collaboration opportunities for teachers. You would probably not be surprised that I'm also interested in sessions on visual literacy and data. And while none of the sessions will equip me with everything I need to know about any or all of these topics, I appreciate that they will prompt thinking and conversation. They will raise awareness about the gaps in my own knowledge and motivate me to move my thinking forward in the next year.

It's a great community to join and we have the whole weekend set aside just for learning. So, come on along for the ride.

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