Yes, in a time when budgets are tight, it is tough to find money to send educators to national education conferences. But can schools afford not to send their teachers? Many schools will not send one teacher but will send two, so the educators can figure out how what they are learning at the conference can apply to their own school. They can discuss ideas while they are excited. Those conversations will bring something meaningful back to school.
If you do not attend national education conferences, what is it that prohibits you from registering?
The additional costs of travel. When a national conference was close by (car travel distance) we took a team of 10. I wish we could do that more, but booking flights, getting to a distant airport and all the headache of traveling is prohibitive. I really love the online avenues these days where I can participate in some great sessions that really target what I need in my school/class from the comfort of my own home/class. There are some great online conferences and sessions that I have participated in over the last couple of years that have really added more value to my job than traveling someplace and spending all that money.
You make a very good point. When 10 can take a couple of school vans with school gas and go, sometimes not even needing to stay overnight, it cuts the costs tremendously.
So, you are saying the cost of the airline tickets and the hassle of flight (it isn't what it use to be, for sure) reduce your enthusiasm for attending national conferences.
I wonder when the national conferences will think of including some broadcasts of session workshops and allow for a few questions from the online audience?
One example is the Virtual Round Table Conference coming up April 20-22. It goes 24 hours and participants from around the world on all different topics. Not only can I pick and choose the topics I want to attend, I can either participate live or go back and listen to the recorded version afterwards. The Global Education Conference is the same way (I think that is in October). It allows me to sit and absorb and really process what I listen to as well as not spend thousands on travel expenses.
In my school district, the biggest reason for not attending national conferences is the cost. Unfortunately, sending teachers to national conferences was never a high priority even when the school budgets were better. Now teachers must pay not only all the conference costs but also lose pay for the days missed from school. Our district once provided professional days for attending conferences, but now those are greatly limited or non-existent.
I agree that national conferences provide educators with new ideas and invigorate their enthusiasm for teaching. It's a wonderful idea to send one or two teachers to a national conference and then provide a means for them to share what they have learned.
However, again in my district, most often the administrators are offered few, if any, opportunities to attend conferences (national and/or state) rather then giving teachers the option. I never have understood in the system where I worked for over 30 years, why those who could benefit most from conferences were usually the ones who never were given the chance to attend.
I wonder if this experience is shared by teachers in other school divisions.
Cost is probably the biggest reason for not attending national conferences. But time is as well. Our district does not usually pay for travel or often even the registration fees. So it can be quite expensive.
I went to the ISTE conference in Denver two years ago. It was okay, but I wasn't overly impressed. Many of the sessions that I wanted to attend were full, so I could not attend. And some of the ones I did go to had so many people in the rooms that we had to sit on the floor in the back and couldn't really see or hear that well.
To be honest, I have had some good experiences attending the TIE conferences. About 5 years ago we had a group of about 10 teachers attend up in Copper Mountain and it was a really good experience. The sessions were good, and we were really able to bond together as teachers and make some decisions on a direction to take regarding technology at our school.
I always enjoyed attending/presenting at the TIE Conference in Colorado. You are correct, it is smaller than some of the national conferences but technology leaders, such as yourself, look forward to this gathering each year and the sharing of information with colleagues. The workshops are manageable in size and the roundtables are always spirited.
I agree. I think it is because the sessions are offered by practicing teachers who customize their presentation to meet attendee needs. We attend national conferences to understand the big picture and the innovative ideas, but many teachers really want something they can use in their classroom. TIE sessions provide that.
This does raise another point. How does a district decide which conferences to send their educators? Administrators? I'm noticing more situations in the state of Colorado where districts are offering to pay for professional learning opportunities. This is a win-win situation for the district and eduators, as educators are working together in trainings and attending conferences to bring ideas back and implement.
I know in my district, budget has always been an issue. With the recent DEEP budget cuts, our professional development opportunities are pretty well gone. Teachers now reach into their own pockets or seek other resources, like PTO, fundraising, etc. In addition, based upon the curriculum priority at the time, that is where any monies would be focused, leaving the rest of us to fend for ourselves.
I agree with the others. I, too, attended the ISTE conference when it was in Denver. It was a fabulous experience and I did get some valuable ideas and resources. Whenever I have been able to attend TIE conferences, I am always invigorated, excited, and able to connect with others in smaller forums. Unfortunately, I have not been able to attend in recent years because of budget constraints.
In my district, technology is a "necessary evil" and it has never been a high priority at the district level. It is up to those of us who are in the classroom to continue to fight the battle and try to find the funding for our continuing education. Online resources have been extremely helpful including webinars of conferences when we aren't able to attend.
Cost is probably the main reason for not attending National or even State based conferences. In our small district sometimes depending on how many hats you wear,
leaving even for a few days can be tough. When we can we drive to them, and often stay with friends or family to help with the costs. We are very fortunate in our district to be given 2 professional days to take as needed and we also have professional development money we can use for conferences, online classes, continuing ed classes etc. When we use this money, we make a plan on how this will improve our own teaching and how we will share what we learn with our staff. Once upon a time, the district would take the whole elementary staff to the Reading conference in Denver. We would meet at night for dinner and discuss the sessions we went to . What a wonderful boost in the middle of the year to keep enthusiasm up. This was the practice for a few years, then we went to a rotational system for those that still wanted to attend, trying to send both an upper grade and lower grade teacher so they could share with all grades and balancing it out so it’s not the same teachers every year. TIE is a great conference that I try to attend every few years. I used to go every summer after I was first introduced to TIE but then with family obligations I started staggering my years. One summer we took 5 teachers to TIE, but it’s usually just me, then it’s always a challenge to get all the great info to the staff during the summer and in the fall it’s always just so busy. I do sign up for lots of webinars I can do at home or after school for a quick shot of new information but am not able to really network with others or continue the sharing of ideas. I am really enjoying taking classes through Thinkfinity and being able to network with other professionals and share ideas and get help when needed.