The 2020 TCEA Convention & Exposition is almost here and it’s time to get serious about planning out your experience. With more than 1,000 sessions and a wide variety of learning activities, you can’t just walk in without some preparation. So here are a few tips to make sure that you get every ounce of personal learning you can during the week.
First-timers to the convention are always overwhelmed by the sheer volume of choices that are available. So I recommend that you make a plan before you go. Now is the time to decide on your learning goals for the event.
What two or three main topics do you want to focus on? What are the biggest needs that your classroom or district is facing? What is the latest ed tech trend that you want to get up to speed on? What new teaching strategy or tool do you need? If you can articulate the answers to these questions, then you have a direction to focus on during the convention.
Your TCEA Convention Planner Tool
Download the free TCEA Convention app (available for Android and iOS). Log in to the app using your attendee service center log in (included in your convention email confirmation) and you’ll be able to create your personal calendar of learning events during the week. The app will also have the most updated sessions and any changes made.
Find the Topics You Need at the TCEA Convention
Once you know your focus, it’s time to take a look at the learning opportunities being offered and create your schedule. (By the way, we recommend that you do this on the convention website instead of the app as the search feature there is more robust. Then you can simply access your schedule on the app.)
- Is there a keynote or featured speaker that you simply don’t want to miss? Add that to your schedule first.
- Curated session lists on a variety of topics have been created to help you narrow down the offerings. Whether you are looking for Future Ready, Google, STEAM, or other topics or you want to browse sessions by job role (like CTO, principal, teacher, librarian, etc.), there’s a list for you. In addition, each of our SIGs (Special Interest Groups) has hand-selected sessions that you don’t want to miss.
- Do you need hands-on practice with a new tool? If so, you might want to attend a workshop or a playground (go to the Session List and select “playground” in the Time/Format box). (By the way, if you want to make sure that you get a seat in a workshop, you should volunteer to be a hands-on workshop facilitator. It’s a very simple job, just checking people in, and you get the only guaranteed seat in the workshop.)
- Are there specific exhibitors that you want to talk with? Locate their booth and make a plan on when you will visit them. (Note: This year, we will have dedicated exhibitor time when there will be no other sessions going on. That will happen on Wednesday, February 4 and Thursday, February 5 from 2:00 to 3:00 p.m. Central.)
New this year, we also have another great way to design your learning. After picking up your badge at registration, step across the aisle and visit the “Design Your Experience” booth. Here, veteran TCEA convention attendees will help you create the perfect, personalized schedule to maximize your time.
Your “Free” Time at the TCEA Convention
Learning can continue during your non-session time at the convention as well. As you’re standing in line for a coffee or a presentation, be sure to put away your phone and talk with those around you. You can grow your personal learning community and pick up another ed tech tidbit or two. Here are a few situational questions to get you started.
Waiting for a Session to Start
- It took me (however long) to get over here. I just came from (insert session here). Where are you coming from?
- My session ran long because ….. (or short because). I wish they would have explored _____ more. How did your session go? What did they talk about?
- What are you hoping to learn in this session?
- How has your district implemented (whatever the session topic is about)?
- I’m always looking for the next great web tool. Have you learned about a new one this week that you could share with me?
Waiting in a Concession Line or at a Restaurant
- I’m glad they have ____ available. Usually, I just have _____ at work (or where I’m from). Are you from here?
- What’s been your favorite session so far?
- I was thinking of heading to ____ session, but ___ session is a little closer. What sessions have you attended already?
Train Twitter to Help Network for You
Twitter can be a powerful ally for any convention attendee. But it can work even harder and smarter for you if you combine it with IFTTT (IF This Then That). All you have to do is create an “if this happens – then that happens” scenario between Twitter and IFTTT. From there, the tool will make sure that every “this” action triggers a “that” action to happen. Here are a few that you might find useful at convention:
- Save the tweets you like on Google Sheet (If you want to do an event recap, it’d be great to feature your favorite tweets).
- Track event hashtags or general event searches mentioned on Twitter
- Thank someone for mentioning you in their tweet (really useful if you’re a presenter)
And, of course, be sure to follow the official convention hashtag of #TCEA. That way, you won’t miss out on any of the great learning posted online.
Share the Wealth by Sharing Your Notes
There is so much going on at a TCEA convention that you cannot possibly attend all of the sessions you want to. That’s why it’s so important for attendees to share their notes with others.
Take notes from each session you attend using a Google Doc; be sure to include the session title and presenter’s name, email, and Twitter handle. Then share your notes publicly for anyone to view. You can notify people via Twitter that your notes are available. Besides just being a nice thing to do, it will also increase your visibility and position you as a thought leader. You can even consolidate all of your Tweets that contain session recaps by saving them as a Twitter Moment. You can share this moment at the end of the conference so attendees won’t have to scour through dozens of tweets to find your notes.
Finally, to make your TCEA 2020 convention experience the very best it can possibly be, be sure to stop by the TCEA Lounge on the fourth floor. Here you can listen to live discussions, discover ways to extend your learning 365 days a year at no additional cost to you, and grab some cool TCEA swag. Happy learning!