Teachers in most states are required to take courses, attend conferences, or sit through professional development workshops to keep their certification. However, teachers often find these opportunities long and tedious, either irrelevant to their classes or too repetitive.
Some conferences and institutes, however, go above and beyond the usual humdrum professional development workshops. These conferences provide opportunities for teachers to hear from high-profile educators and authors, participate in hands-on activities, and meet like-minded educators from all over the United States.
Many of these conferences take place in large cities, which allows participants the freedom to explore cultural and educational institutions on their own as well.
1. Empower Conference
One such conference is Empower, which is sponsored by the educational organization ASCD. Every year, the conference brings together thousands of teachers from all over the U.S. This year, Empower will take place from March 13-16 in Los Angeles, California. One exciting feature of this conference is the featured speakers, which include LeVar Burton, the host of “Reading Rainbow,” an actor and children’s author Henry Winkler. This conference also offers a bookstore and an exhibit hall full of teaching aids for purchase.
2. Digital Learning Annual Conference (DLAC)
Another compelling conference is DLAC, which brings together educators, researchers, and policymakers who work in online or blended educational settings. This conference is held in Austin, Texas, in February of each year. Highlights of this conference include plenty of opportunities to converse with other like-minded educators about the challenges of teaching in an online setting and plenty of relevant workshops that cover everything from culturally teaching pertinent to how to use Google tools in the classroom.
3. Habla Teacher Institute-Annual Conference
This is another specialty conference, takes place at the Hablo Spanish Language School and Education Center in Mexico every winter. This institute is for all language teachers, particularly those who work in international settings. The program focuses foremost on how to create a friendly and engaging community in which students can learn best. They also offer many hands-on art and writing activities as a means of exploring cultural artifacts.
4. The Boost Conference
The Boost Conference in Palm Springs, Florida, is another destination conference in a warm-weather setting. Boost provides over 175 workshops in a retreat-like environment, as well as masterclasses, a film festival, and many other fun activities. Boost Collaborative is an organization that provides support for anyone supporting youth in the classroom, at after school programs, and in summer camps, making this one of the most inclusive conferences on the list.
5. The National Charter Schools Conference
Held every summer in different locations, brings together teachers and administrators from charter schools everywhere. This year’s conference features three keynote speakers, including Charles Best, the CEO of donorschoose.org. The conference also includes a unique networking structure that incorporates homerooms every morning and networking lounges set up for further conversation throughout the day. This year’s National Charter School Conference will take place in Orlando, Florida.
6. NCTE National Convention
The NCTE National Convention is one of the largest conventions just for teachers of English Language Arts. This year’s conference will take place in Denver, Colorado, from November 19 through November 22. Highlights of the convention include various workshops and sessions that allow teachers to practice their writing skills, book signings within the exhibit hall, and even free books and materials!
7. OCC GATE-Annual Conference
The Orange County Council for Gifted and Talented Education holds an annual conference for K-12 teachers, counselors, and parents of gifted children. Past presentations have included things such as designing independent study units, Socratic seminars, and engaging math strategies.
8. The National Conference of Science Education
Science teachers can attend this Conference in Boston April 2-5 at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center. This conference includes workshops for teachers of all sciences, including earth science, engineering, biology, and chemistry. Camille Shrier, Miss America 2020, will appear to talk about her love of science and the importance of women in the STEM fields.
9. The National Association of Bilingual Education (NABE)
English as a Second Language (ESL) and dual-language teachers might benefit from this conference in Las Vegas, Nevada. The conference offers pre-conference institutes in specialized areas, such as early childhood education and cultivating family engagement. Features speakers include educators, principals, and other professionals that work with ESL and ESOL students.
10. The Green Schools Conference
Finally, the Green Schools Conference may be of interest to educators and administrators who work to make green schools a reality in the United States. This year’s conference takes place March 2-4 in Portland, Oregon. Sessions include titles such as Designing Schools of the Future and Healthy School Environments.
According to Western Governors University, there are advantages to attending local and regional conferences. However, national conferences such as the ones listed here give teachers access to nationally-recognized experts in their fields and perspectives from other schools and communities.