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Mini-Conferences and 1-Day Workshops

By Jen Greene

Professional organizations like NCTE, ILA, PCTELA, and KSLA offer a yearly conference that takes place over several days and is usually packed with inspiring presentations and amazing authors. These conferences are tremendous opportunities to grow and learn in your teaching. I have attended many of these conferences and have been so awestruck by the presentations I’ve seen and people I’ve met.

There’s just one slight problem…..

They are expensive. And many districts cannot or will not provide funding to attend a national or state conference (particularly if it involves airfare).

Fear not! There is a solution…

Mini-conferences and 1-Day workshops!

This is a fantastic way to learn without breaking the bank. Local literacy councils and writing project sites often host Saturday workshops. They are typically a half-day in length, cost under $50 to attend, and you still get the chance to learn from inspiring presenters and meet amazing authors, just like at a larger conference.

Our very own PAWLP hosts a professional learning day each March. It’s about four hours of your Saturday and for that you get to learn about a variety of topics- mentor texts, literary analysis, writing workshops, etc. You get the chance to meet and chat with local authors such as Frank Murphy or Adam Lehrhaupt. Keynote speakers like Janet Wong, or Lynne Dorfrman and Rose Cappelli elevate your teaching by sharing their wisdom and experiences with you.

Local literacy councils, like the Chester County Reading Association or Philadelphia Reading Council offer program meetings periodically throughout the year. Some take place on a Saturday morning, others on a weekday after school. Topics like poetry, social justice, professional reading book discussions, and author panels provide yet another way to increase your professional learning.

While I do not discount the numerous benefits of attending a national or state conference, I’m also realistic. Sometimes it’s just not that easy to take days off work, travel away from family, or find funds in the budget. A mini-conference or workshop is a practical solution that does not require sacrificing quality of learning. It is an excellent and accessible tool to enhance your learning.

Jen Greene

Jen Greene is a 2015 PAWLP Fellow who currently teaches 2nd graders in the West Chester Area School District as well as doctoral student at Widener University. Follow Jen on Twitter @GreeneMachine82.

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