To Conference or Not to Conference

To Conference or Not To Conference–that’s not even a question! Of course you want to conference. I am of course referring to the annual CSTA Conference. This year we were in St. Charles, Illinois, at the wonderful Pheasant Run Resort. The attendance was larger this year than in the past and the energy and networking that occurred was great.

So why should you be here? Let me give a few examples of things I experienced and heard:

– At lunch several tables had people sitting and meeting for the first time. I heard people sharing what they had attended in the morning, what they learned, and how they could use it. This benefited the whole table since several were in different workshops. Beyond the workshops they also began sharing experiences from their own classrooms and districts and were able to find commonalities and share ideas.

– In an afternoon workshop the presenter referenced a workshop he had attending that morning and mentioned how something from it fit well with what he was doing. Wow, a presenter learning something in morning and applying that to his information! This allowed for a few comments and discussion among the attendees and it showed how learning connections can be made.

– There was a fantastic Monday night reception at one of the locations of Universal Technical Institute (UTI) with a tour of the facility, great food, and a special 10 Year CSTA Anniversary presentation.

– Tuesday had two fantastic keynotes, with thought provoking presentations that left attendees with conversation topics throughout the remainder of the day. There were also a host of sessions as well as new mini sessions where three small presentations were presented in one time slot. Also new was a vendor specific area that allowed for conversations about new curriculum options, technology to support teaching, and organizations that had resources to support computer science education.

– Lunch on Tuesday again brought a different mix of people to the tables to talk about different topics. The table I was at was comparing and contrasting different programming environments, how different teachers used them, and the age appropriateness of the environments. It was a great sharing of teaching experiences.

– I also saw many different people introducing colleagues to other attendees they met and felt could benefit from talking together. I was introduced as well to someone new from my state that I am going to be able to share information with and hopefully add to our Ohio Chapter. Meeting new people and making connections is one of the best benefits of the conference.

These are just some of the tidbits from the conference and I am sure there are many more. So if you are looking for ideas, connections, pedagogy, curriculum talks, and much much more, grab your boots and your ten gallon hat and mosey on down to next years conference. (Can you guess where?)

Stephanie Hoeppner
9-12 Representative, CSTA Board of Directors