Monday, February 3, 2014

Surviving TCEA (or any conference) as an Introvert

So, here I am (again) at a very large #edtech conference, wondering how I am going to survive a week of learning with thousands of people.  Yes, friends, I am an introvert.

Last summer I attended ISTE13 and learned a whole lot about navigating large conferences as an introvert.  You see, I get reenergized by being alone.  I need considerable amounts of downtime to recharge and reflect.  It's not that I don't like being around people, I just need lots of time alone.  So, I wanted to give my fellow introverts a few tips for staying sane and getting the most out of these conferences.

So, here we go...

Tip #1:
Do not take a roommate.
Number 1 rule for having time to reflect and recharge.  If your school requires you to take a roommate to save money, this could be a problem.  Try, at least, to take another introvert.  If not, maybe your extrovert roommate will be out socializing so you can get some time by yourself.

Tip #2:
Don't attend a session during every time slot.
Give yourself time between sessions to think about what you learned.  Chat with a few people or pull out your laptop and blog about it.  There will plenty of learning going on all week.  Take time to reflect on it.

Tip #3:
Meet new people!
As an introvert, I prefer to talk to small groups or one-on-one.  Make connections and network with new friends.  When do you have a chance to meet so many like-minded people in one place?  Take advantage of it!

Tip #4:
Sign up for evening "activities", but don't feel obligated to attend all of them.
After a few days of all this edtech fun, I know I will need an evening to myself.  So, I usually bow out one night near the end of the conference.  Sometimes I feel like I am missing out on all the fun, but I always feel better the next day!

Tip #5:
Have fun!
A large part of attending conferences, for me, is seeing my friends.  I spend a considerable amount of time hanging out at the Digital Square or the Lounges chatting with my colleagues.  Some of the best learning happens while sharing our experiences on an informal basis.  Take advantage of those times!

Follow these 5 tips and you are sure to have a great time!

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