goals · teachin' school · travel

so you want to go to SXSWedu…

i’ve only been once to SXSWedu, and it was truly one of the best experiences of my life.  it was unlike any education conference i’ve ever been to.  but i have some advice:

  • Do NOT lose your badge. it has a chip in it that they scan whenever you enter any room. if you lose it, you can’t get into anything and you have to pay the full price of the conference to get another one.  DONOTLOSEIT!


  • use the app – i probably checked it 20 times a day. it’s so helpful and the maps are very clear.  you can even add sessions to your own phone calendar through the app.  i did this and set reminders.
  • plan out your schedule ahead of time – everything overlaps so you really have to look at the schedule and pick and choose.  i logged everything in the app to make it easiest.
  • prioritize your sessions -there’s so many cool sessions. you just can’t make it to them all. pick and choose wisely.
  • have choices and back-up sessions – sometimes they’re too crowded or uninteresting or not what you thought. find another session! people are constantly moving in and out so don’t feel bad.
temple grandin’s keynote was great!
  • talk to people around you – i tend to be socially awkward and shy but i pushed myself to talk to people around me. i first met a teacher from a medium sized district in Texas who also happened to be on the advisory board. i talked to her for 30 minutes and got her info so I can contact her.  apparently, that’s called networking, something the conference encourages you to do.  🙂  i also talked to teachers from Seattle, Brazil, the Netherlands, and Chicago who had the same issues i did, which is oddly comforting.
  • wear your walking shoes – it’s held in three different places: 2 hotels and 1 conference center. there’s one hotel that is much farther than the other two places. it was a bitch to get over there, but the sessions were worth it. also, Austin is cool and you’ll want to explore.  just sayin’…i had blisters on the bottom of my feet by the end of the week.
explore the city! luckily i had my sister there with me for the week.


  • bring some tech with you – i used my phone because i didn’t want to bring my iPad or laptop.  if i were to do it again, i think i’d bring my iPad though.  every session required some kind of tech so get ready.
  • take notes – whatever platform you choose doesn’t matter. i take notes on paper to pay attention and review later. some people prefer their phones or laptops.
  • take pictures – the presenters are used to people taking pictures of them and whatever visuals they provide. it is helpful to take a pic instead of struggling to get the notes down sometimes.
this was from a session called “can we replicate the Finnish success?” it was by far one of the best sessions i went to.
  • bring snacks – since the sessions tend to overlap, bring some food with you. i found myself more than once sitting on the ground in a hallway or in a session eating a sandwich or other food. nobody minds. we’re all doing it.
  • bring a water bottle – in literally every room, there is cold water available…and tiny, tiny cups. i would stand and drink 3 cups quickly while other people would just fill up their own big bottles. i was jealous and kicked myself for not bringing a bottle.
  • hang out in the Playground – it was my favorite place. there were booths set up from different and innovative companies with room for you to try thing out and really experience the products. i spent the most time here each day. in addition to the booths, there are also small presentations set up in 15-30 minute increments.  by the afternoon, that’s about how long my attention span was. i just had fun in this space, trying out new things and interacting with other excited educators.
the Playground!
  • go to the expo. for some weird reason, it’s only available for one day. i didn’t realized this until it was already over and i had only spent about fifteen minutes in there. schedule the time to go because there are so many interesting companies represented and even schools looking for teachers.
  • push yourself out of your comfort zone – it can be a little intimidating.  it’s thousands of people.  but try something new and different whether that’s going to a session you’re weirded out by or talking to someone beside you.  i wish i had pushed myself a little more.  i regret not trying a mentor session or meet-up.
all the panels i went to were very interesting. this one was on the future of assessments. i’m not lying when i said it was actually interesting!
  • be open-minded – i went into the experience as a sponge.  i wanted to see and do everything.  maybe that’s why i was so tired by the end of the week.  but it was worth it.  you never know what you might learn.  i thought going into jane mcgonagal’s keynote that i would get nothing out of it and i left with so many exciting questions about the future.
jane mcgonagal’s keynote was awesome!!!
also from jane’s keynote
  • put yourself in your kids’ shoes – what would appeal to them? what would work for them? what do they need?  i asked myself these questions every day in the Playground.
  • dress casually – you can dress up, but you’ll probably feel out of place.
  • have fun.  there are so many things to choose from.  do the things that interest and excite you and don’t waste your time on the fun-suckers.

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