I’ve got a busy couple of months coming up, and not just because of the June SAT and ACT. I’m on my way to Seattle this weekend to present on Test Optional Admissions (with industry legend Judi Robinovitz) at the IECA 2023 Spring Conference. I and the rest of the Board of Directors of the NTPA are also neck-deep in planning for our own inevitably exceptional National Conference in Dallas in June. I’ve already recorded my contribution to a virtual educational conference coming up later in May–expect details next week–plus there’s at least one more I want to attend and one I regretfully cannot.
What’s so great about conferences anyway?
The allure of multi-day events that typically require travel, lodging, and extended extroversion may be lost on many tutors, particularly those without employers footing the bills. Not only do conferences carry financial costs, but they also incur opportunity costs that could conceivably double or triple the damage to a tutor’s bottom line. And for what? Most conference presentations entail the kind of large group lectures that fall flat for educators in touch with the efficacy of individual instruction.
With all that said, I still prioritize traveling every year to NTPA conferences and certain others connected to education and admissions for the people, the opportunities, and the ideas.
Last year, in the afterglow of the triumphant NTPA 2022 National Conference, I wrote about how the most valuable resource that all teachers have is each other. The main reason to attend a conference is usually to connect with and build meaningful professional relationships with peers and potential collaborators. But that doesn’t mean you want to skip seminars to fit in more hallway gab sessions.
Most conferences aspire to offer some modicum of professional development, yet even the ones that fail to meet that low bar cannot help but excite the imagination and trigger new ideas. Simply entering a space with a commitment to grow in the company of others of the same mindset creates fertile ground for the kind of learning we cannot do in solitary. If you’ve never attended an excellent conference, you may find that assertion hard to believe, but look at how many educators become converts after their first experience, present company included.
So, I enter the spring conference season with gratitude and enthusiasm, uncertain of what specific benefit each one will bring but confident that the time, effort, and expense will be richly rewarded. This topic calls to mind a splendid quote from Henry Ford: “Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young. The greatest thing in life is to keep your mind young.”
Keep your mind young… attend a great conference!
— Mike Bergin
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