So you just finished a conference, and you are heading home with boundless enthusiasm and a renewed vigour for all things teaching. So, how do you keep this energy up over the next couple of weeks, and transfer that to good practice back in the classroom? Here are some that have come in handy for me:
1. Reflect Tonight
Spend some time thinking about what you learned over the past couple of days, and write it down somewhere. Distill what you can into short ideas so that you can organize and plan for later.
2. Post it Somewhere
Learning is great, but comparing and contrasting experiences can allow you to see points outside of your experience. You met many great people over the conference, and now is the time to share what you learned. You can do that in a couple of ways – Blogging seems most obvious, but you could also try something like Storify, or, if you are brave, use YouTube of Vimeo to do a video blog.
3. Pick One or Two Things for the Short Term
If there is a mistake I have made over and over again, it is trying to do too much after a conference. Pick one or two items that you can do, without much assistance, over the next few months. That will keep your learning continue, but won’t create too much stress on your program. You want to have a staggered introduction to new ideas so that you can reflect and assess their impact in your classroom. Nobody at the conference, not the attendees or the presenters, did everything overnight, so you don’t have to either.
4. Create a Plan, and involve Others
Make a plan so that you remember what you want to do. I can’t tell you the number of times I have come back to a bookmark, and remembered some great idea that I had thought about doing. I have found that creating a short document with links and a timeline is a great way to keep on task. Keep visiting the document every month or so, and checking in with your progress. Also, if you can, involve a couple people in each goal. They will help you stay on task and give you another way to monitor your progress.
5. Find a Key Phrase or Two
Keep some little token or phrase from this journey, and use it to remind you of the energy you feel today. I have kept some doodads (like a 3D printed emblem) or words of wisdom (Google before you tweet is the new Think before you speak), as a way of keeping the memory alive. This is an excellent way to centre yourself as you start into exciting new directions.
That’s it. Congrats on being part of the learning, and now, more than ever, you can start being a leader in your class, school, board or world! Choose what you can do now, and leave the rest for later. Learning is about permanently changing your practice, and it isn’t easy.