Best Teacher Convention Ever!

If you have been in education for more than a day, I know that you have attended a teacher convention or conference.  I’m also certain that you have an opinion about such events, and like me, I’m sure you’ve attended some good ones and some not so good ones.  So, in today’s post, I’m begging and pleading (literally on my knees) asking for your feedback about teacher conventions.

Here’s what I’d like for you to do right now: in the comments section below this post, leave your short (think 1 word to 1 sentence) answers to the following questions.  It won’t take long to leave your answers, simply put the first thing that comes to your mind (as long as it is appropriate and kind).  No need to name specific conferences or people, just speak generally about specific things (does that make any sense?).

  1.  Think of the best teacher convention/conference you have attended: what made it so great?
  2. Think of the worst teacher convention/conference you have attended (if it’s one I organized, be kind): what made it so miserable?
  3. What is the most important part of a teacher convention/conference?
  4. What is the one thing lacking from most teacher conventions/conferences you’ve attended?
  5. How profitable have teacher conventions/conferences been to your professional development as an educator?

That’s all!  Five simple questions awaiting your comment!  Thanks for your participation!  

You can leave a comment by clicking here.

Matt is the Assistant to the Editor here at the Focus Blog. He also serves as the Administrator at the Victory Baptist Academy of Weatherford, TX, as well as the President of the Texas Organization of Christian Schools. Matt and his wife, Kelly, have three children that keep them on their toes!

Please note: we reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • Jeff Peterson

    1. accessibility to professional presenters and engaging keynote sessions
    2. unqualified presenters talking down to workshop attendees
    3. networking
    4. more panels and/or Q/A sessions
    5. on a scale of 1-10, probably 6

    • Matt Ticzkus

      Hey Jeff, thanks for commenting! I have a follow up question for you: when you mention “accessibility to professional presenters,” do you mean having one on one time with them, or just being able to hang out with them in between sessions? Or, maybe your #1 goes along with your #4, having more panels, etc.?

      • Jeff Peterson

        The best conventions that I’ve ever been to were ones where I was able to follow up with presenters/speakers after their workshop or session was over. Some conventions, they were unavailable. So in that regard: number 1 and 4 are related to me. I would value access to people who have answers/ideas for me regarding their topics.

        • Matt Ticzkus

          Thanks for clarifying!

  • Martha Earwood Reed

    1. Practical workshops from which I could take a concept and apply it immediately in my classroom and gospel-centered keynotes sessions.
    2. Too much jargon and/or too much talk about educational theory
    3. Interacting with other educators!
    4. Casual opportunities to spend time with others outside the group I came with.
    5. I love a good convention (and hate a bad one!). For me, they’ve played an important role in developing me professionally – both as an attendee and as a presenter. I look forward to them every year. So, I give them an 8!

    • Matt Ticzkus

      Marty, let me follow up with you about your #4…are you familiar with “speed dating”? While I’m not advocating that at our conventions (that would be bad), what about using that concept to get educators to mix with other educators and share ideas. I’m thinking 2-3 minute conversations to share ideas and to get to know the other person. Does that sound really dumb to you? Thanks for sharing!

      • Martha Earwood Reed

        This idea intrigues me! With the right facilitators, something like this just might work well! I also think loosely organized fellowship opportunities for specific groups might work. When I look around at a conference, I often don’t know who is in my same “boat.” I’d love to grab my box lunch and eat with other 6th grade teachers – if I knew where to find them. Let’s keep talking!

        • Matt Ticzkus

          Would love to continue the discussion along those lines. I’m presently working on planning our upcoming teacher conference, and this is one of the ideas that my team came up with. Thanks for the feedback!

  • Jeff Davis

    1. I love the high energy keynote sessions that speak to heart issues.
    2. Hearing the same workshops and workshop speakers.
    3. The opportunity to connect or reconnect with fellow servants. Some of the most profitable moments have taken place between sessions or in the display areas.
    4. Many of the workshops speak to educational theory rather than practice. I would love to have the opportunity to sit down with fellow administrators/pastors and find out what they are doing to increase salaries, how they are handling insurance issues, how they are are building enrollment, etc. One of the subjects I would like to see further addressed is building a scope and sequence for Bible classes.
    5. I have found conventions to be beneficial in that they provide an opportunity for our entire faculty to get away together and to provoke discussions.

    • Matt Ticzkus

      Hi Jeff! Thanks for your feedback! If I had to categorize your comments with one or two words, I would choose “connections” and “practical.” Do you think that would be an accurate summary?

      • Jeff Davis

        Absolutely. In observing successful teachers, it is obvious that they make a deliberate effort to connect with their classes through a variety of methods. Some of those same methods could be used to facilitate connections and practicality. For example, round table discussions not just panel discussions. Another idea would be round table discussions considering case studies. I like the illustration of speed dating you referred to earlier.

        It seems like conventions are focused on the platform or the podium. It would be beneficial during the workshops to somehow invite involvement from those that didn’t come with stack of handouts. I’m not sure how this would be facilitated. That is why you get paid the big bucks 🙂 This is just some food for thought.

        • Matt Ticzkus

          Super helpful feedback! Thanks so much! I like your idea of round table discussion!

  • Anita Sedivy

    1. Practical and affordable ideas from those that are in the classroom – not necessarily professional conference speakers, also conversations with teachers while traveling to and from the convention
    2. NA
    3. Fellowship with teachers from my school and building connections with others in my field
    4. Sleep
    5. In my early years these were very important, but after 19 years I still look forward to them

    • Matt Ticzkus

      Hi Anita! Thanks for your feedback! I like your point about “those that are in the classroom.” I do believe that to be important. Also, #4 is classic!

  • Ann Klopfenstein Bailes

    Okay, since you asked for my two-cents worth:

    I really get weary of workshops that:
    –are just “Tips and Tricks for (fill in the blank) etc.
    –have a presenter who just follows the points on a handout. I can read the handout on my own…
    –have a speaker (especially those for women) who gives trite, alliterated points that are very simple.

    The best workshops:
    –give really, really useful things for use in a classroom. I remember well a woman who taught us how to dissect a poem, and another one who gave great ideas for challenging seniors in English class. I like to have my thinking challenged and learn to challenge the thinking of my students.
    –are really inspiring. This especially applies to speakers for women. They need to have something that touches women’s hearts and causes their thinking to be deeply challenged about their roles.

    Things are needed for the beginning teacher, yes, but also for the old-timers, who don’t need the “How to Discipline” workshops as much as they need the “How to Keep Going” inspiration. (However, especially with the society today, there need to be good opportunities for classroom management sessions. So many newer teachers today seem to be afraid to be firm in discipline, or just don’t know how to do it.)

    I would really like to have some kind of interactive workshops. There is a wealth of information to be disseminated by the conference attendees, not just the paid presenters. I’d love some informal roundtables, some workshops where we are asked to be prepared to contribute, instead of just sit in a classroom and listen to a presenter. We’re all in this together and there is so much that could be shared. think a lot of times the attendees have as much to offer as the

    Thank you!!

    • Matt Ticzkus

      Hi Ann! Thanks so much for your thoughtful insight! You have raised some excellent points. I especially like the example of the presenter who taught how to dissect a poem and your comment regarding informal roundtables. You have given much more than two cents worth! I look forward to interacting with you more!