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Maximizing Your Attendance at a Regional Conference

By Andrew Powell

The IB Asia Pacific Conference and the EARCOS Teachers’ Conference both took place this past March and are great professional development opportunities for teachers and school leaders. While attending a conference may seem simple enough here are a few tips to make the experience worthwhile:
Go with a goal in mind
The objectives of attending a conference are to learn and be inspired so it pays to have specific outcomes in mind. Don’t simply focus on what you already know but look at ways to extend your knowledge and practice.
Target select presentations
Take some time to read through the conference program before the conference takes place so that you can identify key presentations that will add value to your professional practice. While there may be many sessions of direct relevance to your work, it is often worthwhile to slip outside of your comfort zone or area of expertise.
Be open-minded and broaden your horizons
A good conference program will feature a range of speakers with various viewpoints and experiences. Opening your mind to new ideas may change your approach to a problem or situation, provide you with motivation or the inspiration to expand your interests.
Synthesize information
As you listen to speakers, think about the how the concepts or information may be applied to your own job or role. New knowledge has the potential to add value to how you negotiate your workplace and carry out your job.
Regional conferences provide participants with a great opportunity to meet educators with a diverse range of experiences. Make an effort to introduce yourself to people that you don’t know. Share a little about yourself and listen to what others are doing in their schools. You never know when you will meet a new friend, potential mentor, or future colleague.
Explore the city
Getting out and exploring the city in which a conference is held can be a powerful experience and should not be underestimated. If possible, try and tour the city, visiting an important landmark or cultural site. A simple dinner at a local restaurant has the potential to add to your intercultural understanding.
Andrew Powell is the Lower School Principal at Shanghai Community International School.

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