Sunday, March 24, 2013

State Conferences Matter


With her permission, I am posting this fantastic post "State Conferences Matter" by Okle Miller. It originally appeared on her blog, One School Librarian. Note that both Shannon Miller and Buffy Hamilton will be keynote speakers at our conference on April 8th. There is still time to register. Don't miss it!

I went to my state conference,  FAME this past week.  I had a really good time and connected with some great people.  Not all of my friends were able to go this year, but I haven’t missed a conference since I became a librarian. Here are my reasons for never missing your state conference:

It’s fun to get away from school sometimes.
It’s true, going to a conference is still getting to go on a trip.  I don’t normally stay at a Hilton and eat at high end, nice restaurants  it’s usually Motel6 and McDonald’s, so this is a treat each year.
You can hear some great speakers, like Shannon Miller and Buffy Hamilton
 This year my conference had exceptional keynote and closing speakers.  That might not be the case every year, but usually one or the other has something you can take back with you.  Like I said, this year was super great and I made sure I was on time for the opening session with Shannon Miller and I stayed to the last second to make sure I didn’t miss hearing Buffy Hamilton.
You learn some new ways to engage your students.
You can always find some sessions were you can pick up new tips and tricks.  I learned to manage my social media better (thanks Shannon) and some great ideas for implementing book clubs that I hadn’t considered before. 

You learn what you were already doing is the right thing.
 Sometimes you don’t learn anything new in a session.  While you might think it was a waste of time, I like to stay positive and see it as validation that what I am doing with my students is right.  If another school librarian in a different part of the state is doing things the way I’m doing them, then we are both brilliant! 

 Session and workshops are great, but sometimes the most insight comes from lunch.
Session and workshops are great but sometimes the most insight comes from lunch.  That’s right lunch, when we are all looking for a table and you end up at a table with new peers.  The first day we sat with  author Christina Gonzalez, who was a delight.  The next day,Michelle Harclerode, sat down next to me and we had a great conversation about her wonderful book trailers and how things are in her district.
You realize the maybe things are not so bad at your school or district after all.
Getting to meet and talk with school librarians from around the state can really open your eyes.  We still have a certified school librarian in each of our schools elementary through high school.  After talking to others I am starting to realize how lucky we are in our district. I may not have a clerk for help,  but my students still have me and I’m glad I have one school to go to each day.

You get to meet face to face with your PLN peeps.
I follow Shannon Miller on twitter and read her blog so I was really excited that she was the keynote speaker this year.  She was also presenting a workshop that I got to attend.  It was great that she just didn’t speak and leave. I was able to really talk to her and make a connection.  She has had a big impact on my professional development and getting to connect with her in person has made it all that much better.

You realize you are not alone.
We spend much of our time professionally by ourselves.  The teachers at school may like you and support you but that don’t always “get” you.  ”You have the be here for conference night?”, “You are so lucky, you get to read books all day”  Even connecting with your library peeps on school email isn’t that same as getting to spend three days together.  To really get to talk and pick each other’s brains is priceless.
When it is time for your state conference do whatever you have to do to be able to go.  You won’t regret it. : )