How to get the most out of that workshop!

Confession: I like attending workshops. (Is that weird?) I like taking the time to learn something new with a group of people who share a common interest – world language teaching! (There’s usually coffee and donuts, too, and I can’t turn those down!)

Workshops and conferences are a great way to recharge during the school year (or summer) and give you a pep in your step with a boost of new ideas. To get the most out of a workshop though, there are a few things to think about in advance.

1. Know what you’re getting into. Do your research.

Know what you’re signing up for. Study the conference schedule in advance and have a good understanding of what is being offered so you can get what you need.

Allison suggests: Look at the conference schedule at home before you make your plan of action. If you wait until the day of, you end up going to the popular sessions, and not what you actually need.

Sherry says: After you sign up for conferences, check back when people have posted their pre-conference notes for the sessions. Sometimes you can tell from the notes which sessions will be worth your while and which ones won’t.

2. Be prepared to be uncomfortable.

I’m not talking about the discomfort of getting hungry mid-morning (bring a water bottle and some snacks!), I’m talking about seeking out growth opportunities by trying something new. Step out of your comfort zone.

Look for opportunities to try a workshop that is hands on and that allows you to feel like the student again. Go to that TPRS workshop that is conducted in Swedish (or German, Russian, etc.)! The uncomfortable feeling of not fully understanding is exactly the place to be to experience growth! It will help remind you what it feels like to be the student and allow you to adjust your teaching accordingly.

3. Connect with other educators

There are so many ways to connect with attendees & presenters at the conference. Be bold and ask questions during and after a workshop! Presenters welcome questions and if you have a question, chances are another person in the room has the same question.

Of course you can connect face to face with other educators and share ideas and listen to new perspectives over a coffee break or lunch. You will make new friends and you can exchange email addresses, blog details, etc. But, we’re living in the digital age! Here are a few more ways to connect:

Conference Hashtag: many conferences these days have a hashtag!

Allison says: Follow the conference hashtag on Twitter & contribute by tweeting your takeaways from each session.

Catharyn says: Take advantage of social media networking opportunities by using the conference hashtag. Post your own thoughts and pictures using the hashtag, like (and/or repost) other people’s posts, and find new friends/colleagues to follow, all through the hashtag. Read more of Catharyn’s tips on How to Start Collaborating with Spanish Teachers on Social Media.

4. Take good notes

Listen for new ideas, teaching strategies and opinions about language acquisition. Write down concepts that pique your interest and that you want to remember for your own teaching.

Know the best way of taking notes that works for you. Are you a handwritten kind of person? Make sure you have a notebook & pen. Are you a digital kind of note-taker? Do you need to charge your laptop or tablet? 

Rosa says: If you go with a friend, or if you make a friend, take notes on a shared document on Google apps. Two or three people taking notes is better than one. What I miss, my friend might get.

5. Plan to use what you’ve learned.

Don’t let those notes just sit in the conference folder when you get back home! Revisit your notes the day after the conference and start making a plan to implement ideas into your classes.  Try out new ideas and see if they work for you and your classroom needs.

Did you find this list helpful? What else would you suggest? Leave us a comment below with your ideas!



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