First conference

Posted by: LadyChen

First conference - 10/19/12 01:38 PM

I'm going to my first music teachers conference this weekend and am very excited about networking with other teachers in my area! I've only been teaching a few years, so I feel like this is my debut party smile.

Anyone have any tips for getting the most out of these types of events? My teacher already advised me to bring my scores to mark up during the sessions.
Posted by: PianoStudent88

Re: First conference - 10/19/12 02:18 PM

Not a teachers' conference, but after my most recent conference I realized at the end that, although I'd gotten a lot from the talks, I hadn't talked very much to other people, and thereby missed a chance to learn a lot from my colleagues. I decided the next time I go to a conference, I'm going to have a list of questions that I can ask to start a conversation. I don't know what I'll learn, but I know I won't learn anything if the conversation doesn't start.

In my field (student systems and data warehousing in higher education), the questions might be:
  • Hi, how are you? Where are you from?
  • (Insert brief chit-chat like where I'm from, and whether or not we've ever been to the other person's town, and who we know there, and compare the sizes of our institutions.)
  • Which products do you use?
  • What do you find to be some of your biggest challenges?
  • What are some of the most useful tips and tricks you've found?
  • If they do use the product I'm most interested in, ask some questions about specific issues that I'm facing.
  • What are some of the most useful talks you've been to at this conference?
  • ...and so on...

Those kinds of questions, or similar questions more tailored to your own teaching interests, could be useful for teaching too.

This is an idea I learned from the Dale Carnegie training.
Posted by: PianoStudent88

Re: First conference - 10/19/12 03:28 PM

I should add, if you're a natural at talking to strangers, you don't necessarily need a list of questions. I like the questions because I can be shy about introducing myself to strangers and striking up a conversation. The questions give me a reliable way to know how to do it.

When Dale Carnegie introduces this, they introduce it for use in a social setting (with a different list of questions), but the idea can be used just as well in a business setting. I think one of the things that makes it work is that people like talking about themselves, so you're just pre-priming the conversation with topics that the other person will likely find interesting. And it's perfectly OK to go off-script; the goal is not necessarily to answer these questions, but to get some exchange going.
Posted by: ten left thumbs

Re: First conference - 10/19/12 03:47 PM

Have you been teaching for long?
Posted by: Minniemay

Re: First conference - 10/19/12 05:08 PM

Take a sweater. Conference rooms can be chilly!

Don't write down everything -- you're likely to miss something really important if you're busy writing.

Take money. You'll want to purchase music with the discounts they give you. Make a list of music you want to make sure to buy. Don't get sucked into all the package offers, though. They're not always worth it.

Wear comfy shoes. You often have to do a fair amount of walking.
Posted by: PianoStudent88

Re: First conference - 10/19/12 05:14 PM

Originally Posted By: ten left thumbs
Have you been teaching for long?

ten left thumbs, were you asking me or Lady Chen?
Posted by: LadyChen

Re: First conference - 10/19/12 07:56 PM

This is my third year teaching. I went to the first few sessions this afternoon -- it was great. I connected with some other young teachers -- many just coming out of university. Also, my own teachers and mentors were attending, so they introduced me to lots of the 'movers and shakers' smile.
Posted by: Peter K. Mose

Re: First conference - 10/19/12 08:11 PM

Why don't you tell us what the conference is, and describe it a bit?

Alongside minniemay's practical advice, I'd say: don't feel you need to attend everything. And if you meet someone interesting and have a stimulating conversation, that's worth more than a session you might miss because of it.

Piano teaching is an isolated business.
Posted by: LadyChen

Re: First conference - 10/19/12 08:40 PM

This is a small conference -- it's the registered music teachers association conference for my province (Saskatchewan) -- so there isn't an overwhelming amount of sessions offered. The annoying part for me is that I'm interested in the piano stream and the voice stream, which happen concurrently, so I have to pick and choose what interests me more.
Posted by: Peter K. Mose

Re: First conference - 10/20/12 10:47 AM

The business of having to choose between simultaneous sessions is something we should have mentioned. There's no good answer to how to select. Sometimes I'll just try a session I know nothing about, and with a presenter I'm not familiar with.
Other times I go to something out of obligation.

Flashback: I suddenly remember the first piano teacher congress I ever attended, long ago. In Wichita, Kansas. An elderly US teacher took me under her wing, and told me over and over that the most important thing was to gather all the freebies offered. She meant fridge magnets, pens, note pads, etc. Every time I would run into her between sessions, she would ask with a big smile, "Are you gettin' your freebies, Peter? That's what these conventions are all about, freebies!" I had never even heard the term before.

For her a music teacher convention was like Halloween for adults.
Posted by: LadyChen

Re: First conference - 10/20/12 11:01 AM

Originally Posted By: Peter K. Mose

Flashback: I suddenly remember the first piano teacher congress I ever attended, long ago. In Wichita, Kansas. An elderly US teacher took me under her wing, and told me over and over that the most important thing was to gather all the freebies offered. She meant fridge magnets, pens, note pads, etc. Every time I would run into her between sessions, she would ask with a big smile, "Are you gettin' your freebies, Peter? That's what these conventions are all about, freebies!" I had never even heard the term before.


That's hilarious! I did notice some elderly teachers collecting 'freebies' at the trade show smile.