Leadership Blog

Approaching Forum Like a Seasoned Pro 

It’s hard to believe after all the planning, scheduling, and coordinating, the 2023 Education Forum is almost here. Throughout the planning process, our team gets to preview all the speaker applications, event proposals, and innovative ideas that will be shared throughout the Forum. This conference was planned with your unique interests, roles, and challenges in mind, and we are so excited to share all this hard work with you! We couldn’t do it without our members’ partnership and contributions. 

This Forum will be my second as the official CEO of PAEA, but I’ve attended many Forum events and learned a lot from all of them. Now, I want to share all this experience by providing some tips on how to make the best of a professional conference like the Forum.  

  • Carry a notebook everywhere you go. I like to bring a fresh notebook with me to events like this because I know everything I learned and want to remember is contained in one place. I also usually end up filling the whole thing up!  
  • Set goals for yourself before you get on site. For example, I’m an introvert who, fortunately, can fake being an extrovert when necessary. Therefore, I have set a personal challenge to introduce myself to at least three new people. I’ve found that doing so helps to increase my focus and leaves me with a sense of accomplishment when I achieve my goals.  
  • Bring at least two pairs of shoes. I would say bring comfy shoes, but if you’re like me and fashion is important, I must have my dressy shoes (my heels) and a good pair of flats to change into for walking in between sessions.  
  • Turn off notifications on your devices. This is probably the most difficult to do! As an educator, I will shamefully admit that it took a long time for me to believe that I couldn’t truly multitask. In fact, it wasn’t until the 2017 Forum in Denver, Colorado, when Dee O’Neill Warren lead a session on the brain science behind learning, that I became a believer. Dee had us try to memorize a poem while listening to another attendee tell us facts about their lives that we were also supposed to be able to recall. That exercise opened my eyes! Ever since then, I have become more aware of where my attention is and needs to be. I no longer respond to messages during meetings unless it’s an emergency.  
  • Have fun! We hope you will leave Forum with many useful tools, but you will be surrounded by people who love your profession as much as you do. Celebrate this important work with people who understand. See some of New Orleans and try a local restaurant while you’re there. 

I hope you’ll find some or all these tips useful. You may want to put your own personal spin on them. I encourage you to find what works for you and make the most of this special time that was created for you and your community of fellow PA educators.