It’s convention time! While it can be exciting to hear the speakers and see all of the fabulous books, curricula, and fun things to add to your classroom, it can also be hugely overwhelming. As a speaker, as well as an attendee at past conventions, here are a few things I have learned and you may want to remember before you go.
Study the map of the convention building and speakers. Look at the list of vendors and where they are located. I look at the list of vendors and locate some of my favorite shops such as Rainbow Resource and Homeschool in the Woods. I star those on the map and anything else that looks interesting so I am sure to visit them. I also read through the topics that are being offered and plan the time and the room where I need to go. Otherwise, I will happily spend the entire time looking at curricula, talking to people, or looking at other booths and miss great speakers I wanted to hear. Or, miss my own speaking engagement! 🙂
Make a list of curricula in which you are interested. There is nothing better than getting to peruse a book after you have read reviews about it. What seems like a great idea for your student may not be what you envisioned once you actually get to see it yourself. However, if you don’t make a list before you head into the vendor hall, all of your thoughts will go out your head once you see how many exhibits there are in the gargantuan room!
Pack drinks and snacks. Convention food can add up quickly, so pack a snack or a lunch, and be sure to take a couple bottles of water with you. You think you will stop for lunch, but time gets away from you and before you know it, the line for lunch is way too long and you run the risk of being hangy (hungry and angry combo- NOT good!)
Take a rolling cart or a rolling suitcase. If you plan on purchasing more than a couple of items, this is a back saver! The first year I went to a convention, my shoulders and back were so sore because I bought all kinds of goodies and then had to haul them around all day! the next year I took a rolling cart, and it was great. Don’t take something too large because there are lots of people to maneuver your way through and you don’t want your cart to be too unwieldy.
Ask a friend or spouse to attend. I have really appreciated it when I have taken a friend with me to bounce ideas off of them. It also saves money because you can split the cost of parking if you take a friend. Consider getting a hotel room for a fun Girls Weekend. After all, you have worked really hard this year and it’s time to treat yourself! A couple of years I have asked my husband attend and that was extremely beneficial in helping me make decisions about our school. One time we went away and I forgot my bag! My hubby and I had to go and buy an outfit and some toiletries for me! Ooops! 🙂
We are all in this together. There may be someone who you have enjoyed using their curricula or have read one of their books, don’t be shy speaking to them. You can receive encouragement and at the same time, encourage them to continue. You may have a question about using a product or just want to say thanks, please take the time to do this. You will be glad you did and it will help as you go through the school year if you have spoken to the author or someone who has used the curriculum.
Have a great time!