On October 25 and 26, I had the opportunity to participate in the Georgia Council for the Social Studies statewide conference in Athens, GA. It was my first time attending a major conference like this, and I am glad I did. Not only did I get to attend various subjects on teaching methods, where social studies is headed; I also get to meet and converse with teachers from all over the state. I met a lot of “younger” teachers with less than 3 years experience who I gave some small amount of wisdom to as the teacher with 6+ years under her belt. I met “older” teachers who gave me advice on how to make it. I met several student teachers that looked at others and me with big, bright, and slightly scared eyes as we veterans shared our good and bad stories. All in all, being at this conference gave me a nice opportunity to network with other teachers while gaining new pedagogical techniques to share with my colleagues back at school. I know that many of the ideas I saw could be used across the curriculum. If there is a conference for your subject area, try to go. It may just give you that little push you need to survive as a teacher.
Things I learned while attending this conference:
1.Some sessions are really amazing and inspire you.
The first session I attended just made me feel good as a teacher. The presenter had amazing examples of student work and assessments that reminded me of why I am a teacher. I left that time with so many ideas on how to get my students excited about social studies, which if you teach the subject, it is hard to do. Another session showed me new ways to help my students review that I have already inserted into my lessons for the week. I cannot wait for my students to play Draw-It to review concepts.
2.Keep your cell phone or iPad handy.
I found that instead of writing down notes about examples, it was easier to just whip out the cell phone and take pictures of it. Now you have visuals to look at without trying to quickly write everything. Ahh, I love technology!
3. Definitely, ask questions.
I went to one session that discussed the state of social studies in Georgia. While this could have been a time to just listen to one side, participants were encouraged to ask questions, express their opinions, etc. Education leaders who run these kinds of sessions won’t know something is wrong if teachers don’t let them know. Always talk.
4. Always park close and bring extra bags
So one cool thing about these conferences is the exhibitors’ hall. Representatives from various education related companies set up shop and give out samples. Sometimes you can walk away with books, videos, CD-ROMs and more. I had to make several trips to my car because everything was so heavy. It’s great to get these samples because you can take them back to your school, test them out, get a great feel for them, and then beg the school to get the better ones. Even if you cannot get the funds to “adopt” the material, you still have a great resource at your fingertips AND it is usually the latest/newest editions.
In November, I am heading to the National Council for the Social Studies Annual Conference in Seattle, WA. I am looking forward to the knowledge I will gain as well as covering it for The Educator’s Room. This should be memorable. If you are heading to the conference, I look forward to meeting you there. If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact me!