Maybe you’re feeling blue because the American Council on Teaching of Foreign Languages conference starts Thursday and you just couldn’t make it happen this year. Or maybe you’ve done it… maybe you’ve signed up to attend the national conference for the first, second, or 30th time. If you’re headed to New Orleans, you’re probably very excited (and maybe a little overwhelmed) about how to make the most of your conference dollars.
We want to give you a few helpful hints to maximize your conference experience and help you come home ready to put your learning into practice.
- Don’t miss the opening session. The opening session is a BIG deal. It is electric being in the same room with thousands of like minded educators! Plus, the ACTFL Keynote is always able to open my eyes to a new way of thinking!
- Don’t skip the exhibit hall! There are so many exhibits you could spend a whole day wandering around! You will not want to miss the Fluency Matters booth #1119 for a few reasons:
- We have numerous new readers making their debut at ACTFL and tons of fun giveaways!
- The Fluency Matters Team will be on hand at booth #1119 to answer questions (about teaching and/or materials). Our team is made up of knowledgeable experienced colleagues, who can guide you to stories that will pique your interest.
- You can walk out with armloads of Fluency Matters comprehension-based readers at awesome conference prices! What I love about the Fluency Matters conference special is that you can buy a lot of different readers and get a feel for the stories you and your students will enjoy– at unbelievably affordable prices.
- Pay attention to Fluency Matters ACTFL giveaways! We are giving away loads of free materials, and ACTFL participants will have 7 opportunities to play throughout the conference. You’ll find details here. You can even play from home so you don’t have to have FOMO! To play at home, check details here:
- Pick out 2-3 can’t miss sessions per day! If you get caught up chatting with a like-minded colleague after a session, you may end up missing one time slot but identify at least 2-3 a day that you will go to to keep yourself in a learning mindset! Sometimes that nap or that stroll around New Orleans can be tempting but there is just too much great information available in these 3 days to skip out! If you’re not sure where to begin, check out our list of CI-friendly sessions here.
- Don’t be afraid to leave a session. You’ve paid good money for this! If you come to my session (or anyone’s) and don’t feel like you’re in the right place, go to the next one on your list! But be careful as you do this… are you leaving because you don’t want to be challenged? Are you leaving because the presenter’s ideas would mean you would have to change things that you’re scared to change? I encourage you to go to ACTFL with eyes and heart wide open for best practice wherever you may find it. If you do decide to leave a session, keep in mind that the presenters are teachers just like you. They are volunteers, donating their time and expertise to help the profession. Presenting takes courage, so please be respectful and kind should you decide to move on to another session.
- Have a dinner with a group of people you met at the conference! Some of my closest friends and collaboration pals live in Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania! You never know which session your new conference bestie might be hiding in! I have so many impactful collaborations with teachers in other states… and it is because I met them at conferences.
- Send a thank you tweet! ACTFL and particularly Julia Richardson spend a LONG time making this so awesome! How great would it be on Sunday to see a ton of shout outs for all the hard work!
- Tweet. For as many people as there are at ACTFL there are 10 times that many who couldn’t come. When you’re in a session, tweet out your notes using the hashtag #actfl18 and the presenter’s Twitter handle. For more information about being a thoughtful tweeter, read this post by Martina Bex.
- Start saving. If you’re watching from home, look ahead. In 2019 ACTFL is in Washington DC, 2020 ACTFL is in San Antonio, and in 2021 it is in San Diego . If you make a conscious plan to save a little every month, you can make the journey too! Make it your new year’s resolution!
- Ask. If you don’t know something, ask. Ask someone at the convention center where to find your room. Ask someone at the registration table where you go for the opening session. Ask us at the Fluency Matters booth #1119 what sessions we are going to that day. Stay a minute and ask your presenters for clarification when you’re not sure you understand. Ask someone what they’re doing for lunch. Never be afraid to ask questions. It will make your conference experience the best it can be.
We hope to see you at ACTFL and if we can’t see you face to face, we hope you’ll follow our Twitter contest (#FluencyMatters) and the #actfl18 hashtag from home.