November 16, 2014

10 Art Ed Conference Tips and Tricks!

It's my most favorite time of the year! No, it isn't Thanksgiving, the holidays or snow days, it's our annual NYS Art Teacher Association Conference! Next week, I will be heading to Albany to meet old friends, make new ones, teach three workshops, sell my wares, win some freebies and receive the NYSATA Region Art Educator of the Year Award! And I am beyond excited!

As you know, I am a nerd. I love learning and sharing, which is why I started this blog. Once a year sharing just wasn't enough! But at conferences I can win stuff. I am what some call a 'wizard' at
winning things at conferences. I have ridiculously good luck at winning raffles.  Last year I raked in Xacto pencil sharpener (I was the first name drawn), class pack of watercolors, and a $50 gift card to (it was the first workshop I went to) and and plus a suitcase full of freebies. This is the only time I ever win anything, so the luck stops here!
I decided to share my top tips and tricks for attending  and being a conference wizard!  I can't guarantee you will win a raffle, but this list could just change your luck.

10 Tips and Tricks for Making the Most of Your Conference!

  1.  Bring luggage or save yourself room in your luggage for the goodies you will get. I am getting pretty good at getting swag. Visit your favorite booths, ask for samples and definitely stop by before they pack up and head home-lots of giveaways!I have also been known to travel with a suitcase inside of a suitcase for this purpose.
  2.  Pre -print some address labels with your name, address, email, phone number, school and grade level to quickly fill out the give-a-ways at each booth. Keep these in your badge holder for quick access!
  3. Wait until the last day to buy things from vendors. They will discount everything because they don’t want to haul it back. If they don’t you can always ask for one. If they sell out you can always buy it online. (I snap pics with my phone of books and things I like to add to my wishlist.)
  4. Bring business cards to share with people you meet. Conferences are all about connections! (I use Vistaprint for cheap business cards. Don't pay extra for rush shipping, I got mine in 5 days with the slowest and cheapest shipping option. Click here for a $10 off coupon to get started!)
  5. As much as I love technology, I still need to doodle my notes. Go old school and bring a binder/clipboard, folder, highlighter for all your notetaking and handouts. Use a highlighter to mark the sessions you want to attend in your workshop packet.
  6. A large canvas bag- to carry with you during the day to stash everything (freebies, posters, handouts) especially if you aren’t staying at the conference hotel. 
  7. Digital Camera- To snap pictures or take videos of student artwork or samples or presentations.  Presenters will often share email addresses so you can get digital copies of things. Don't rely on your phone, the flash doesn't always work well and the pictures can be grainy.
  8. Sit near the presenter so you don’t miss out on handouts or freebies. People in the back never get handouts. Sorry =/
  9. Comfy shoes-this is not a fashion show(ok well maybe) and you will do lots of standing and walking. Be practical. 
  10. Dress in layers. You never know how warm or cold the rooms will be, or how far you have to walk to get to a presentation! Elevators are usually packed and busy, be prepared to take the stairs. See #9. 
BONUS Tip!! If you don’t like the presentation you are at, its okay to walk out to go to another one! As a presenter, I won't get upset, or barely notice. Now, if you leave your phone on or loudly discuss dinner plans, I won't forget that! 
I hope this fantastic list of tips and tricks will help make your conference experience awesome!  What would you add to my list?

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