Turn conference inspiration into reality back home
You’ve either made it through the conference season or you’re just about finished. Either way, it’s time to begin thinking about what you’re going to do with all the information you just soaked up in professional development workshops and conferences. You listened to inspiring speakers, interacted with passionate educators like yourself, and learned about new innovations in the education space. There is so much information to sift through and reflect on that it’s tempting to push it all aside until you are a little less busy, right? Let’s be honest though, will you ever be a little less busy? That’s a hard ‘no.’ Let’s take some time to deliberately reflect, prioritize and plan for successful post-conference implementation.
• Make time to reflect and strategize. Your schedule is incredibly impacted, always… We definitely understand this fact. But this step is critical to the successful implementation of any new idea. Real-time listening and note-taking at a conference are all good. In order to make real change though, you need time to reflect on that information and make connections to your classroom, school or role. It’s a necessary first step to making the time and energy you spent at that conference worth it. Think of this time as a gift that you give yourself, and enjoy it while sipping coffee or tea and listening to your favorite playlist.
• Go back to your ‘why.’ This powerful little 3 letter word is a very important part of your reflection, planning, and communication. For reflection, ask yourself why you sought out this conference or workshop in the first place – this grounding question enables you to make authentic connections before you develop your next steps. For planning, keep going back to your why as a way to remain on track and focused. When communicating your new idea and plan for implementation, whether it is to a classroom of students or a faculty, communicating your why is essential to team understanding and buy-in.
• Set goals and benchmarks, and include timing. Sure, you can use a pencil for this step, as we know your timing may be a moving target (especially when snow days and assemblies start creeping into each week). Setting goals and benchmarks through the end of the year will hold you accountable and give you that roadmap that you will need to look back on to track your progress and pivot when needed.
• Start with just one idea, and build from there. Implementation and adoption of new ideas and strategies are doomed if you bite off more than you can chew. Don’t try to make too many changes at once. Instead, choose one strategy, give yourself a reasonable amount of time to fully implement it, and wait for the next big idea once you begin to see adoption of your first idea.
• Go back and reflect some more. Ask yourself how often you’d like to reflect on your new strategies and ideas to assess how well it’s going. Perhaps this is something that you schedule for yourself once per month, or as often as you personally need this time to check yourself. Use this time to feel proud about the benchmarks that you hit and to generate lists of questions you may want to run by a more seasoned colleague or maybe even the original presenter himself if you have access.
Remember how excited and inspired you were at that conference last month? You can continue that excitement and inspiration with just a few deliberate moves this school year. Take time to continue to develop yourself – you deserve it. Here’s to wrapping up another successful fall conference season in the wide world of education.