By: Jamellah Reid
Attending last year’s Annual Conference in Atlanta, GA was one of my best memories as a professional in the field of Early Childhood Education. I anticipated meeting other professionals in the field from all over the nation, and I did. But I also gained a wealth of knowledge from sessions and brief conversations with conference attendees. This was all very valuable information that I was able to share with my peers who could not attend the conference.
While it was my first national conference, I managed to participate fully and comfortably by keeping some of the following tips in mind:
Plan ahead: There is SO much going on during all 4 days; the best way to maximize your experience is to plan out in advance (the date, time, location) of the events you would like to partake in.
Dress Appropriately: Wear comfortable shoes. It’s a big conference and there’s lot of walking.
Recharge: I carried light snacks and a drink to keep my energy up throughout the day. Finding time for larger meals was a challenge for me. I attended 2-3 sessions per day so I refueled with snacks and then ate one meal at the end of the day.
Organize: I used the final conference program to help me find my way around, by using the maps and layouts of the halls and rooms.
Bring a journal or notebook that has a pocket folder for note taking. The folders will give you room to collect informational brochures, business cards, pamphlets, and everything else you may pick up at the conference. I still have the journal I used last year, which I currently use as a resource.
Lastly, make sure you find time to reflect on your experiences from the conference events. There is usually so much educational information flying around from attendees, presenters, and displays in the exhibit hall. We forget that our primary reason for participating in the conference is for the early learning of young children and their families. The exhibit hall is always a great way to end a busy day of sessions and presentations!
I am looking forward to attending the 2013 NAEYC Annual Conference in my hometown of Washington DC, and learning even more this year!
Jamellah Reid is one of the 2012 NAEYC Legacy Annual Conference Scholarship recipients. She is currently the Center Director for the Georgetown Hill Early School and NRC in Rockville, MD.