goals · teachin' school · travel

so you want to go to SXSWedu… {updated}

this was my second time going to SXSWedu, and again, it was truly one of the best experiences of my life.  it was unlike any education conference i’ve ever been to.  here’s the main keynote from 2017 below.


if you’re planning to go, i have some advice:

  • if you can, bring someone with you!  the librarian at my school was able to go and we debriefed each evening.  it helped me narrow down what was important and what to prioritize back at school.

  • 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!
this is from last year, but it looks the exact same.
  • 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.
this session was so interesting. it was about the michael brown case and how the media and regular people shaped it. an on the ground reporter was there along with some others involved in the case.

  • 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.
being open didn’t stop me from thinking this…
  • 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.
yum! food trucks are my favorite.
ain’t she pretty! i’m always up for a quick walk around the capitol.
  • bring some tech with you – i used my phone mainly because it was easiest.  but i also brought my surface tablet to take notes on and to see things on a bigger screen when necessary.  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.

  • 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 actually did bring a water bottle, but it broke the first day.  grrr…
  • 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.

  • go to the expo. for some weird reason, it’s only available for two day. (i think it’s because they tear down and build the regular SXSW expo.)  the first time i went, i didn’t realized that it was limited 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 did go to a meet-up but didn’t stay too long (too crowded), but i regret not trying a mentor session.
i thought the “social sensory lounge” was going to be totally weird. but i had to try it out. i ended up staying there for 30 minutes playing with it and picking the brain of the guy who put it together.
  • 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.  a lot of the keynote topics applied to teaching in the way we relate to the kids.  they all had a different and interesting message.
chris ending
sara goldrick-rab
tim ferriss
brene brown
  • 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.
some sessions even serve beer and wine toward the end of the day! 🙂

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