5 Indicators That You May Be A Conference Guru

2015SanAntonio 2By Roz Prescott @RozAtRethink

This Memorial Day weekend Rethink had the wonderful opportunity to attend and present at this year’s ABAI Conference in San Antonio. In addition to all the amazing take-aways from the presentations and panels we attended, we also learned a little something about ourselves: we are indeed conference gurus.  Are you a one too?  If you can answer yes to the following, join the club!

 

1.  You have successfully set up a monster booth at least once in your career

If you have ever lugged huge “booth carriers” across country, completed a full workout getting all the components out and ready to put together, and then spent 2 hours trying to work out how everything fits together … you might be a conference guru!

To avoid throwing out our backs, the Rethink team wisely decided to take a more subtle approach to our booth. We kept it simple with our Rethink banner and our own smiling faces. We met lots of current customers and hopefully future partners and had some great conversations.

Dr. Patricia Wright, VP Professional Services at Rethink, with a teacher and Rethink user all the way from Fairbanks, AK.
Patricia Wright, VP Professional Services at Rethink, with a teacher and Rethink user all the way from Fairbanks, AK.

2.  You are prepared with both summer and winter attire depending on the whims of the hotel air-conditioning

If you hiStock_000018234936_Doubleave ever had to carefully plan and are prepared with your attire and wardrobe to allow for significant temperature changes in short periods of time (often in the same workshop session) … you might be a conference guru!

Thankfully the Rethink team came prepared for anything and managed to keep our body temperatures relatively stable with just the right mix of summer/winter attire!

3.  You have breathed a sigh of relief when people actually attend your presentation session

If you have experienced slight panic or anxiety attacks with the thought that you will be the only presenter at the conference who has no one show up to their presentation … you might be a conference guru!

Two members of our Rethink team, myself and Patricia Wright, presented at the ABAI Conference this year in sessions about Educational Technology. Thankfully lots of people were interested and showed up to both sessions!  Thanks to all who showed their support!

Dr. Patricia Wright discussing benefits of educational technology during her panel session.
Patricia Wright discussing benefits of educational technology during her panel session.

 

Roz Prescott MA, BCBA sharing the positive results of using technology for paraprofessional training
Roz Prescott MA, BCBA sharing the positive results of using technology for paraprofessional training

 

4.  You act like a teenager seeing a rock star when meeting your academic mentors and heroes (and shamelessly ask for a selfie)

The Rethink team got to take shameless selfies with many of our ABA mentors and heroes this past weekend at the ABAI Conference 2015.

Dr. Patricia Wright meeting Oliver Wendt, Assistant Professor at Purdue University
Patricia Wright meeting Oliver Wendt, Assistant Professor at Purdue University
Roz Prescott with Dr. Aubrey Daniels-Aubrey Daniels International.
Roz Prescott with Dr. Aubrey Daniels-Aubrey Daniels International.

5.  You willingly give up your holiday weekend to advance your knowledge and learning while sitting in uncomfortable seats and eating overpriced hotel food

Yep! That’s us–walking 15,000 steps (or approximately 7 miles per day) from classroom to classroom and even spending some sessions seated on the floor, all in the name of knowledge!

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Why do we do it you ask? The answer is simple: we are passionate about our field and consider the chance to advance our knowledge of value to ourselves, the places we work, and the children and students we support. See you all next year for more of the same!

3 Tips for Building Your Personal Learning Network

Becoming a more informed, more knowledgable, more connected educator through your personal learning network.

It’s spring, which at Rethink can only mean one thing—it’s User Group Season! Throughout April and May Rethink has been visiting districts across the country that are utilizing Rethink in their special education programs and facilitating conversation and sharing around best practices.

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Educators share and connect at the San Francisco User Group

What becomes clear with every User Group is the incredible value for those involved. From administrators and coordinators to teachers and paraprofessionals, the user group is a wonderful time for sharing resources, and most importantly, best-practices with one another. With all the demands on educators’ time and resources, these in-person opportunities for sharing can be few and far between. This is why many educators have increasingly turned toward building their own Personal Learning Networks online.  This month, as a follow-up to User Group Season, we are sharing some ideas for building your own Personal Learning Network using one of the most popular social media sites for educators, Twitter.

1.  Follow other educators and thought leaders

Twitter is full of educators. One of the most powerful things about the Internet is its ability to bring together likeminded people with similar interests who may never otherwise have the opportunity to connect.

To build your personal network on Twitter, start by following other educators and organizations germane to what you do in the classroom or the populations you teach. Here are a few great resources that point you to some awesome special education Twitter accounts.

Also follow Rethink and our team of clinicians and educators. They are a wonderful source of information, tips, and encouragement!

2.  Join weekly Twitter chats

Twitter chats provide an opportunity to follow topical conversations live on Twitter. With a shared time, hashtag, and topic to discuss, Twitter chats bring together all of the best aspects of Twitter into a structured forum. Participants can ask questions, share topical ideas, and stay up-to-date on latest trends in education. To participate in a Twitter chat, use a tool like Tweetchat to easily follow the conversation.

A few Twitter chats you might consider joining are:

  1. #Spedchat – Mondays from 9-10pm Eastern: A chat specifically for special educators to discuss issues in special education, share ideas and resources, and connect with others in the field.
  2. #Edtechchat – Mondays from 8-9pm Eastern: A chat for all educators to learn more about best-practices for using technology in the classroom.
  3. #Edchat – Tuesdays from 12-1pm and 7-8pm Eastern: Like #spedchat but for all educators, this is a place to talk about trends, share best-practices, and connect with other educators.
  4. #EWedchat – Wednesdays from 8-9pm Eastern: A chat hosted by Education Week that discusses a different topic every week germane to education.

For more information about joining a Twitter chat, check out this blog post.

3.  Live tweet events

Liv- tweeting events, trainings, webinars, and conferences is another way to build your network and keep you in the socially connected. Many events (including all of Rethink’s public webinars) will share a hashtag with you for live tweeting. Using this hashtag to live tweet during the event helps you connect with others participating in the same event, gather succinct ideas, and chat with others online about a topic, even after the event is over.

Some examples of the kinds of things you may consider tweeting during an event are:

  • quotes or interesting ideas mentioned by the presenter/s
  • questions you have about something mentioned by the presenter
  • questions you have for other event participants
  • ideas that occur to you during the event/presentation
  • resources pertinent to the topic being discussed

Twitter is just one of many social media tools you can use to navigate the landscape of digital learning. Best of luck finding new ways to build your Personal Learning Networks and connect with other special educators. See you in the Twittersphere!