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After attending professional learning events, educators often want to spread their newly acquired knowledge. Vanessa Zurita tells us how she gets the most out of her conference experiences. As an English language development technology coach for the Cartwright School District, I often have opportun

May 10, 2016

After attending professional learning events, educators often want to spread their newly acquired knowledge. Vanessa Zurita tells us how she gets the most out of her conference experiences.


As an English language development technology coach for the Cartwright School District, I often have opportunities to attend conferences. Because of my role, I keep my colleagues in mind when choosing which sessions to attend. While being a coach is similar to being a teacher — I, too, need to know the strengths, needs, and interests of the students — I must also know how to support educators so they can take their teaching to the next level. Here are some general things to keep in mind when prepping to attend a professional learning event.

  1. Plan the sessions you attend. Whenever a conference provides me with a schedule of sessions, I go through the descriptions, selecting first-, second- and third-choice options. In making my selections, I strive to keep my own needs in mind, while also managing the needs of my colleagues who are unable to attend.

  2. Take notes in cloud-based applications. I prefer to use Google Docs because it’s available on all my devices and it’s searchable. I’m able to upload and organize the resources mentioned as I take notes, and include all links shared by the presenters. I often will remember a key idea, but not all the details. Fortunately, the search feature in Google Drive always saves the day.

  3. Start a “Share ASAP” list. Another reason I choose Google Docs is the comment section. As I take notes and think of how it relates to one of the teachers I support, I quickly make a comment so I can share that idea with a particular person.

  4. Know when to share. As a coach, it’s critical to listen to your teachers. Also, you need to understand a teacher’s state of mind before introducing new learning — don’t overload someone that’s finding it hard to stay afloat. Often, I keep my conference notes open for a few weeks so that as I can share tips with teachers when it’s most appropriate. (Here’s a trick: Because I am a hoarder of open tabs a great Chrome Extension is One Tab.)

  5. Stay connected. When I attend a dynamite session, I make sure to follow the presenter on Twitter and all other social media outlets they mention. I basically become a groupie!


Now, keep those tips in mind and head over to the Arizona K12 Center events page to register for your next professional learning venture. Don’t miss the chance to improve your craft this summer, while also finding ways to benefit your entire educational community by planning ahead.

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