I've blogged before about being a bit of a conference junkie. That certainly hasn't changed. I did get to see the process from a whole other perspective however. While I have volunteered for numerous conferences, I have never been one of the actual conference planners. That was a completely different experience. From programs to scheduling to call for presenters, securing facilities, creating a website, choosing a keynote, format, etc..... There are SO many moving parts to conference planning. It's one of those things that you logically realize but the work, effort, and coordination cannot be fully understood until you are actually in the trenches. The hard work and sleepless nights are so very worth it to be able to bring passionate educators this kind of learning opportunity.
48 sessions then came and went in the blink of an eye! All sessions were color coded by difficulty to offer participants something to meet them on their level. With time for only four slots, there were twelve sessions happening simultaneously. We received a good deal of feedback that participants had a hard time choosing sessions and often felt like they were missing out by not being somewhere else. While that is certainly a good problem to have, it is a problem none the less and one we will work on for next time. Thank you presenters for your hardwork! We look forward to seeing all of you next time and sharing more Googley Awesomeness.
Closing session then came and it was time to call it a day. One of the highlights from closing session stemmed from this tweet from @morelandja :
Sad! If u find my name badge w/my tickets, plz turn in! Don't want you feeling guilty if u win a
chromebook w/them! ;) LOL!
That tweet posted at 1:30. I know because I retweeted it. Fast forward to 3:30 in the afternoon. Guess who won the Chromebook we gave away? Yup! She did. A nice conference attendee who's name I do not know returned her badge to her. That is #AwesomeSauce multiplied! It really sums up the entire day for me. I had the privilege of learning and sharing with amazing educators yesterday. There was an energy and electricity that flowed through the day that left me calling 350 of my friends.... Family. We took notes for each other when we wanted to be in two sessions at once. We shared dongles, power cords and sometimes seats. Even more important, we shared obstacles, challenges, and successes in our classrooms. We shared what worked and what didn't. At the end of the day, we even turned in winning tickets. Thanks y'all! You come back now, ya hear!
Here area couple of tips for being a conference planner:
- Figure out how much time you need to plan and then double that; it probably still won't be enough!
- Know that things do come up. Presenters will cancel last minute, the weather will grace you with 90% humidity and Google will have a conference that completely changes some of your sessions. Have a plan B, C and D.
- Use volunteers. Our student volunteers were amazing and the day would not have been possible without them. Thank you students!
- Do not schedule multiple sessions for yourself or anyone on your team. You will be so stressed and distracted that you can't fully enjoy all your hardwork.
- Have a midday pow wow with your team alone somewhere. It gives you time to reenergize, reflect, and finish the day.
- Have the best team on earth! Um, scratch that. That team is taken! My friends and the Techs4tex Board: Amy Mayer, Jessica Johnston, Pam Cadwalder, Jessica Powell, Kellie Lahey, Laura Kile, Kim Strauss and Ann DeBolt.