Getting support to attend conferences is going to be especially challenging over the coming year. ITEEA member, Naveen Cunha, shares how he has created “leverage” to be given consideration through long-time relationship building and follow up. Naveen is a Robotics Programming and Design Instructor at Stephen F. Austin Middle School in Bryan, TX.
I will be forever grateful that ITEEA was set in my path. The things I have learned, that my students have experienced, and that the district has benefitted from due to my participation in ITEEA conferences and committees are numerous.
Watching the Perseverance Mars Rover Pre-launch news conference replay reminds us that tasks such as having a rover drive across another planet is the result of many organizations and thousands of people. This is the attitude every teacher should realize and work on. Teachers can have as many supports as they allow. They should not be afraid to do so.
There are several points I share with teachers contemplating going to a conference and looking for support.
• Be specific about reasons for attending and let the admin/person responsible for sending you know those reasons when applying.
• Why THAT particular conference? This requires a bit of homework. What has that organization done? Again, be specific.
• When participating in the conference, collect as much information as possible. Don't be selective. Talk to people. Take notes. Hand out your cards (make some and take some).
• Networking is huge. Get to know people and let them get to know you. I have made many connections during casual times at the conferences.
• When you return, go through what you brought back SOON, while it is fresh. Share with those who sent you the things that apply to them or that would benefit knowing. I shared the STEL information with my directors as they are all under technology. I also shared many resources with our STEM directors. All have shared their appreciation.
• Share information with colleagues, even though you may not need them.
Most teachers do not report back and therefore those who sent them do not know how effective the conference was. They do not know the value of the experience. Was it worth it? Reporting back is so critical for future support. Share how it is benefitted your program and classroom.
This may sound like a lot. Remember the more you put into something, the more you will get out of it. My attitude is that the funds used to send me to a conference and meeting are from the taxpayers. It is my duty to use it wisely and effectively. If you do these things, the support will grow and be strengthened. In return, when I ask for things, more often than not, it is met with a positive response or an alternate solution. With COVID, I intend to ask my supervisors to step into my classroom for me while I participate in online sessions during the school day. I know they will do what they can to make that happen. I will also point out to them the opportunity it offers for them to see our efforts at work.
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