Whether it’s your first time or your tenth time at Annual Convention, these tips shared during our November #NCTEchat can help you make the most of your time at #NCTE18!
You can see the full archive from the chat here.
What to Bring
Bring an extra suitcase with room for books – check a bag, if you can afford it.
Need more ideas about how to be a pro first-timer? HINT: bring granola bars, an extra cell charger battery, & your comfy shoes. Find out more here.
In addition to all the others, bring a refillable water bottle. Water stations are always available and dehydration is miserable.
Grab something from the hotel or on the way to the convention center by way of a small snack you can put in your bag. You are going to go from room to room to room. Many forget to stop and refuel. There’s no shame in quietly consuming a Cliff bar during a session.
Pack light. You will be bringing home some loot.
Bring a rolling bag so your shoulder doesn’t hurt from all the free books.
You will also need phone chargers and cash for books at the exhibit hall.
Make Sure You Eat!
Also, go to the grocery store when you get there. Buy lots of healthy snacks to bring into the convention center so you don’t waste time standing in food lines!
Bring food! Stop at a store each night for food! Lunch foods are EXPENSIVE and hard to get at the conference (unless going to an author lunch). Also, be OK with skipping a session to go to the expo! It’s worth it! Also, bring a portable charger!
I didn’t realize my first conf that there’s no lunch break, so plan for that! Highly rec the backpack for hands-free walking, a smaller device for Tweeting of course, and flexibility – you can’t do it all, but you also can’t go wrong. It’s all FANTASTIC!
Advice for Meal Events
Even if you haven’t purchased one of the meals, you can still go listen to the speakers. There are always chairs set up at the back of the room.
Check out the Convention Program and App
I would also suggest looking at the program on the NCTE site ahead of time to plan out what sessions you would like to attend!
Use the app to map out your schedule! If not, you’ll be overwhelmed #NCTEChat
Have a Plan B (and C and D)
Do some planning ahead of time. So many good sessions are offered simultaneously. Have a Plan B for each time slot in case a session isn’t meeting your needs. Go where you grow. It’s OK to leave a session. #nctechat
Have a plan a-d. Sometimes your first picks are packed, but there is always something fabulous nearby if you planned ahead.
Plan out what sessions (use the app or print a copy of the program if that’d help) you’d like to attend in advance. Be flexible. You WON’T be able to hear and see everyone you want to; be okay with that.
Choose a General Theme
Also, it’s helpful to think of a general theme or focus to guide your session selections! I was very overwhelmed making my schedule last year and @CodyMillerELA recommended this great strategy.
Think of one or two big themes or ideas you really want to work on in your practice and choose sessions based on that… create your own strands! 🙂
It’s Okay to Leave a Session
If a session isn’t what you expected, don’t be afraid to leave. And if someone leaves your presentation, don’t take it personally. Everyone needs to be in sessions that are relevant to their practice, so if it isn’t relevant, then it’s ok to leave.
Or to Take a Break
It’s okay to NOT go to a session – meet with others, start a conversation. It feels weird to fly to another state and engage in primarily direct instruction.
Allow yourself some down-time for processing. Those of us who are on the introverted side need a little time to jot down some notes or have a conversation. It’s OK to skip a session slot or two to reflect.
I use the walk back to the hotel to drop off my book haul as a needed break from all the stimulation.
Have fun and take a breather when needed. Sitting in the hallway each year creates some of my best conversations!
Introverted friends, make sure you are kind to yourselves. It is okay to step away and take a break from all of it (and there is a lot). I can recharge by sitting in a hallway and listening to music, if I don’t have time to get back to my room. Helps me get thru.
I’d say pace yourself and enjoy and make time for good conversation with colleagues to help you process what you hear and learn. It’s always going to feel like you are missing something, but don’t dwell on that. Enjoy what you CAN attend.
It’s like Thanksgiving before Thanksgiving, so… pace yourself!
Meet New People and Build Relationships
Also, advice from an introvert: talk to as many people as you can. You have SO much in common with these people!! The connections are amazing
Meet people. Say hi. This can be hard for introverts, but where else will you be surrounded by kindred spirits and collaborators you haven’t met yet? We all need colleagues from beyond our school walls, and #ncte18 will have them galore.
As someone who experiences social anxiety (especially around my literacy (s)heroes), I know how hard it can be to introduce yourself to presenters. Try it out if you can – everyone is so kind and eager to connect.
Exhibit Hall Advice
The exhibition hall is pretty cool, but it can also be a gigantic marketing time suck. You will see people literally hoarding multiple copies of free books. Don’t be that person. Free stuff is great, but learning in the sessions is pretty great too.
Bring extra bags/luggage for all the freebies you walk away with! More than half of my classroom library comes from the NCTE exhibit hall!
Although I absolutely loved the exhibit hall, I was not prepared to cut myself off from it & probably missed some great sessions- I did get to some but not as many as I probably should have! Get your shoulders ready for carrying around bags! Bring only what you need.
Before you leave, print address labels with your contact info. Vendors want to collect your info, and you want to visit as many as possible. Not having to write down your contact info EVERY TIME is a huge time saver.
But folks, PLEASE don’t be greedy!!! Actually speak to the publishers there. Another place to make connections. It’s not just about grabbing books.
Make Time to Meet Your Favorite Authors
Also, give yourself permission to skip a block of sessions and go meet your fav authors and get them to sign free books. Your Ss will thank you for the books and your story of that experience!
Be kind to yourself & others, esp in the exhibit hall. Plan ahead using the app but welcome spontaneous moments & opportunities. Remember why you’re there in the first place.
Yes! It’s easy to get caught up in the frenzy, but remember kindness! We are there to become better Ts and bring books back to our Ss. Plan out several session options for each time slot.
Do What Works for You
It’s my first time heading to NCTE solo!! It can feel weird to walk around solo, but my advice is to go where YOU want, not where your conference buddies want to go. Make it your experience based on your interests!
Get Involved on Twitter
Keep an eye on Twitter for live tweeting & sharing resources. We’re educators & all about sharing our resources to reach more young ppl & those who care for them.
1st timers can #growPLN at #NCTE18 and at #NCTEchat tonight. #professionaldevelopment is strong on Twitter.
Comfy shoes, extra suitcase space, make a plan but also enjoy the moment, divide & conquer with colleagues/friends, find out about the Robinson Reception and HAVE FUN!!!
1st Timers need to take a deep breath when at #NCTE18. It is a massive grouping of passionate edus who are there as learners. Bring a light jacket for inside the conference rms, wear good shoes, and be prepared to have fun!
If you do Twitter, first timers, you’re gold. It’s the same: follow those doing work you admire. Take a dip, sit on the shore, dive back in. Be on the lookout for auspicious coincidence and follow it. Drop your agenda from time to time. Repeat.
Do all that you can, but don’t try to do everything. Quality counts more than quantity. Connect with as many colleagues as you can b/c they’ll extend your #PLN. Be a good listener. Set a goal of returning home w/ at least one sound teaching tip & one best practice.
1. Don’t feel obligated to attend sessions back to back. Take some time to explore and network.
2. Get involved in your caucus!
3. #NCTE can be overwhelming. Treat it like a buffet line, pace yourself and get your money’s worth. #NCTE18
Don’t be afraid to take take home goodies, to meet new people, to ask questions, to grab a business cards/contacts, or to step away to recharge.
What advice would you add for those attending the 2018 Convention? Let us know on Twitter, and whether you’re joining us in Houston or at home, be sure to join the learning using #NCTE18!
P. S. If you haven’t had the chance to register for #NCTE18 yet, we’d still love for you to join us. You can register online now or in-person this weekend.